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The Life & Times of Thomas Kane McClintock Bunbury, 2nd Baron Rathdonnell of Lisnavagh, County Carlow – Part 3 (1914-1929)

Tom Bunbury, 2nd Baron Rathdonnell  with his wife, Kate (née Bruen), courtesy of Hugh Dalgety.


1. THE FORMATIVE YEARS (1848-1878)
2. TRIUMPH & TRAGEDY (1879-1913)
3. WAR & PEACE (1914-1929)


2. War & Peace (1914-1929)




January 16: In the latter stages of the Strike and Lock-Out, Maxwell Arnott’s stables at Greenmount, Clonsilla, County Dublin, are attacked and burned. Lord Dudley’s Swallow Hawk, a prize horse, is lost to the fire.

January 17: Carlow Foxhounds meet at Lisnavagh.

Jan 18: The Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union strike ends.

January 30: Foot and mouth disease returns with outbreaks in Kildare, Dublin, Cork and Tipperary. There would be 76 outbreaks with 957 animals being affected and 4180 slaughtered.

February: Sir Francis Denys-Burton, Baronet, of Pollacton, Carlow, plants 300 larch trees in a field called “The Slang” at Kernanstown in the Parish of Urglin ‘by request and on behalf of my Wife Lady Grace E. Denys-Burton’. Tom Rathdonnell (aka Thomas Kane McClintock Bunbury, 2nd Baron Rathdonnell) of Lisnavagh, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, and William Rochfort Esq. of Cahir Abbey, Cahir, Co. Tipperary are appointed “Trustees of the Estate”.

Feb 20: Fethard Lifeboat Disaster. Nine crewmen of the Fethard-on-Sea based Helen Blake lifeboat die trying to rescue the crew of the Mexico that had gone aground at the treacherous Keeragh Island.

February 26: Tom and Kate Rathdonnell celebrate their Ruby Wedding after forty years of marriage. On the same day, the Britannic, a sister ship of Titanic, was launched, even though it is not yet complete.

March 16: Henriette Caillaux (1874–1943), Parisian socialite and second wife of the former Prime Minister of France, Joseph Caillaux, shoots and kills Gaston Calmette, editor of Le Figaro. The newspaper was about to expose Callieux’s adultery with Henriette before they were married.

March 20: Curragh Mutiny involving Tom Rathdonnell’s cousins George McClintock and Hubert Gough, along with other officers from the 5th Royal Lancers. They are among 57 of 70 officers consulted who elected for dismissal rather than go into possible action against the Ulster Unionists. Sir Arthur Paget, Commander-in-Chief of troops in Ireland at the time, was a kinsman of Charles Paget who sailed with Tom’s father on Samarang in the 1830s.

April 2: Cumann na mBan, Irish women’s Republican movement, founded.

April 7: House of Commons passes Home Rule Bill.

April 12: George Bernard Shaw’s play ‘Pygmalion’ opens in London with Mrs. Patrick Campbell as Eliza Doolittle and Sir Herbert Tree as Professor Higgins.

April 16: Tom Rathdonnell co-organizes Bull Show with Waterford Agricultural Society.

April 25: Tom and Kate Rathdonnell are amongst the huge number of aristos and landed gentry who attend the gloriously sunny Punchestown Races, for which the Great Southern and Western Railway provide excellent railway facilities and special trains that arrived on time. [1]

April 24: Carlow Urban Council rename Carlow’s Hay Market ‘by the old name of ‘Templecroney Square and rename Wellington Square ‘Governey Square’ after the Council Chairman, Michael Governey. A wealthy boot factory owner, Mr. Governey was an ardent supporter of Parnell and had been favoured as Parliamentary representative of County Carlow, but withdrew in favour of Walter McMurrough Kavanagh. With Monsignor Ryan of Tipperary, he was appointed co-trustee of the National Volunteers at the time of their formation in 1915. He later supported John Redmond, particularly during the Convention of 1917 of which he was a member. His second wife was a daughter of Colonel Brodie and sister of Rev. Wilfrid Brodie, C.P., St Paul’s Retreat, Ilkley, Yorkshire. Mr Governey, who died in 1924, said he would rather they did not call any street in Carlow after him but was told by J. Brennan, with much laughter, ‘You have no call to interfere‘. [2]

May 1: Sir Francis Denys-Burton, Baronet, of Pollacton, Carlow, desires to have the trees registered in the office of Jocelyn Thomas, Justice of the Peace for Carlow as the property of the Trustees (Thomas Kane Mc Clintlock Bunbury , Baron Rathdonnell of Lisnavagh, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow and William Rochfort Esq. of Cahir Abbey , Cahir, Co. Tipperary) of the Estate.

May 9: Tom Rathdonnell presides over a meeting of the RDS’s Committee of Agriculture at Leinster House and commends everyone on the successful bull show in Waterford in April. The committee then thanked Tom, as President, ‘especially’ for both his ‘untiring assistance to the project from its inception’ and for entertaining the officials of the Department of Agriculture, the representatives [and] the herds in charge of the cattle, and practically the whole of the public attending the inspection and sale.’ There was also a reading of a letter from the Irish Goat Society. [3]

May 29: Sinking of The Empress of Ireland, the worst peacetime maritime disaster in Canadian history. It was worse tragedy than the Titanic, but few of us know about it. Built in 1906, the ship was owned by Canadian Pacific and offered fast service to Canada – “four days open sea”. The ship was on route from Quebec to London when caught in fog near Rimouski in the St Lawrence, and rammed by an unwitting Norwegian ship that cut into her. The Empress rolled over and sank in 15 minutes. Over 1000 people died –  217 survivors. The skipper was Captain Henry Kendall, who famously busted Dr Crippen when he came onto his vessel. He was thrown from the bridge when the ship keeled over but managed to survive and lived until 1965.

June 3: Lord Rathdonnell of Lisnavagh registers a dark blue, 20 horse-power Ford motorcar, probably a Model T, weighing 14 cwt, which has the registration number IC 198.

June 28: Ireland seems almost certain to head into a war between the Ulster Volunteers and the Irish Volunteers when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo. Back in 1888, Otto von Bismarck predicted: “One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans.” Gavrilo Princip, the Archduke’s assassin, was simply the guy with the loaded gun in the Russian roulette of the period … The impact of that gunshot is responsible for everything ever since, including the First and Second World Wars, the creation of Donald Trump, the Brexit debacle and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On the other hand, the assassination of the Archduke prevented Ireland from plunging into Civil War, so some must have (initially) seen the war as a positive thing from an Irish perspective.

July: It would appear that Tammy Lindsay (aka George Humphrey Maurice Lindsay) of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers had rented the shooting rights on the Rathdonnell estate for the autumn of 1914, for which he remarked in a letter to Isabel Lindsay: ‘I don’t think I shall be out of pocket over the shooting as I will get someone to take it off me.’ [‘The Correspondence of G. H. M. Lindsay, The King’s Own Scottish Borderers (1910-1919),’ transcribed by Joan D. Mann, The John Gray Centre, Haddington (2022), see here.]

July 4: Olive Pakenham Mahon of Strokestown House, Co Roscommon, marries Edward Stafford King Harmon of Rockingham (Lough Key Forest Park), Co. Roscommon, at the Guards Chapel, Wellington Barracks, London. Elizabeth Bowen describes a wedding in July 1914 in ‘The Last September’ during which the war broke out. Guests at the wedding included the Anstruther Greys and Viscount Gough and his wife. Edward is killed four months later.

July 12: A huge rally of the Irish Volunteers meets in the Grove Field in Castlebellingham, with Padraig Pearse in attendance. Pearse’s father erected the grave for the Bellingham family.

July 18 (Saturday): ‘Lord Rathdonnell has returned to Lisnavagh, Count Carlow, from London. Lady Rathdonnell is now nearly recovered from her recent operation.’ [4]

July 20: Murder trial of Henriette Caillaux open at the Paris Cour d’assises, overshadowing the July Crisis in the press.

July 26: Massacre on Bachelor’s Walk follows safe return of Erskine Childers’ Asgard expedition; death of Pierce Gun Mahony of Grangecon.

July 28: Russia declares war on the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

July 28: Henriette Caillaux sensationally acquitted of the murder of Gaston Calmette.

July 31: Jean Jaurès, the French socialist leader and hero of the ‘left’, is assassinated by a French nationalist at the Café du Croissant on Paris’s Rue Montmartre.

Kaiser Bill

August 3: Germany invades Belgium in an attempt to break its encirclement complex and defeat France. The problem for the Germans was that they couldn’t easily attack France along the 120-mile Franco-German border as that was probably the best equipped and most technologically advanced border in world history. They might have bashed through it if time was on their side, but the whole point of the Schlieffen Plan was that they had to crush France within 950 hours, in order to be able to about turn their army and confront Russia in the East. This was in line with the dictum of the US Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest that wars are won by those who “Get there the firstest with the mostest”. And to get through the border would have taken longer than 950 hours. So, instead they had to go over the top into neutral Luxembourg and neutral Belgium, which is what brings Britain into the war. Thus, the Germans advance through the neutral states of Belgium and smash them aside with a view to breaking into France across the unprotected Franco-Belgian border.

The invasion of Belgium was the greatest mistake the Germans ever made because it meant they were going to lose the war. Just two days before the invasion, Britain was actually leaning towards a position of neutrality. All Britain had was a handshake deal with France, not a signed contract, nor a treaty pledge, just the Dual Entente which was a loose agreement. The Germans hoped that the British would ignore the treaty that protected Belgium; the German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Holweg had dismissed the Treaty of London of 1839 that protected it as “just a scrap of paper.” This was Germany’s opportunity to keep Britain out. Instead, the invasion hardened British public and political opinion against Germany overnight.

If Britain had stood aside, there was a very strong chance that Germany would have won the war, and won it quickly. The Germans were not worried about the tiny British army – Bismarck once famously said that if the British Army arrived in Germany, he would have them arrested! But they were worried about the Royal Navy. As the fabulous Dan Carlin pointed out, Britain had a giant moat all around the country and the world’s best navy to protect it. Not to mention Britain’s immense financial clout and its control over such a vast amount of the world. Between them, Britain and France laid claim to approximately 70% of the world at this point, providing access to a massive resource.

But Britain did come to Belgium is defence, just as Belgium resisted the Germans when they began to barge their way into their country. Britain was also determined to prevent the Kaiser getting hold of the channel ports in Belgium; Belgium realizing it is screwed whatever happens, mobilizes its army and prepares for a fight. Conversely, the French Government, determined not to be the first to enter neutral Belgium, take the dramatic and ill-advised step of pulling their troops back by a huge distance of 6 miles!

Sir Edward Grey, the foreign secretary, a kinsman of my maternal grandfather, told parliament that war with Germany was inevitable. He then went to chat with his friend John Spender, the editor of the Westminster Gazette. As they observed the lamplighters snuffing streetlights below, Sir Edward remarked: ‘The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.’

The invasion destroyed Germany’s reputation in public opinion and made them the villain in the plot. HG Wells once called them ‘the best and the wickedest in the world’, wrestling with the dark side like Gollum or Anakin Skywalker. But their portrayal as rapists and looters and pillagers did not require too much exaggeration. At least the Austro-Hungarian attack on Belgrade had some basis in that the Serbian government may have been behind the murder of the Archduke. Belgium was an innocent bystander when Germany came in with all guns blazing. (Thanks again, Dan Carlin.)

The deployment of the 1.5 million strong German army was the biggest military action in history. Once started, it could not be stopped, could never stop until the Germans had conquered Paris once again. To do that the Germans were going to invade neutral Belgium in a flanking manoeuvre with an army twice the size of that which Napoleon brought to Russia … and yet Belgium was a minor diversion, while they prepared to focus on France and Russia also! The French needed to defend their entire line from Switzerland in the south to Belgium in the north. Their commander, Joffre, was an enormous Frenchman, renowned for his calm, whom Second World War France would have loved to have had on its team.

France was a republic at this time and England sort of was. The leaders of both countries had to concern themselves with their political status within their own realms, whereas the autocratic “Caesars” of Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary had much more flexibility because of what Dan Carlin calls the “chance roll of the monarchy dice”.

August 4: British declaration of war on Germany in response to their invasion of Belgium, just as Britain would do following Hitler’s invasion of Poland. The war came at a particularly tense time in Irish history with the Ulster Unionists and Irish Volunteers – or Nationalists – on the cusp of civil war over Home Rule. The declaration of war on Germany changed the focus and, to an extent, united both against a common enemy. The following day, John Redmond, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party and much the most influential nationalist, effectively vowed to Westminster that the Irish would stand firm and defend their shores.

48 men from the Castledermot district went to the Great War and never made it home.

August 5: The German attack through Little Belgium was not completely unexpected, but the sheer magnitude of the forces involved left French jaws on the ground. The German army that marched onto Belgium’s tiny road and rail network was at least as large as big as the entire Roman army at its height, possibly twice its size. The Belgians had never fought a war before. Surrounded by superpowers they realised there wasn’t much point. However, they were determined not to go down without a big fight. They blew up all the bridges, which infuriated the Germans because it screwed their whole transport system and put them under pressure to get the job done in 950 hours. Then the Belgian started shooting at the Germans. Germany had 30,000 men who had been training for many years for just this situation – taking out the main Belgian forts, the cutting edge forts at Namur, Liège and elsewhere, was absolutely pivotal to the success of their operation. When the 30,000 Germans attack, the Belgians open fire and slaughter them in such immense quantities that the other Germans use these mountains of bodies to hide behind and shoot back. And then the Germans regroup and charge again … only this time a huge number of them are led by a brazen Pomeranian officer, Erich Ludendorff, who had been planning the attack on the fortress city of Liège for many long years. He audaciously strolled into the city of Liège and took its surrender.

Meanwhile, on came the Big Guns. When these Belgian forts were constructed in the 1880s and 1890s, they were guaranteed to be invulnerable to any known cannon in the world. But cannons had moved on, not least the German ones. At Liège, they unveiled their secret weapon – a series of unbelievably powerful guns, made by Krupp, the heaviest weighing 300,000 lb, which could fire 2000lb shells. In Napoleon’s day, the heavy guns were 1200 lb firing 12 lb shells. Prior to firing at the walls of Liège, the German gunners had to retreat three football fields away and stuff their eyes, ears and nose with cotton before they fired it electronically. They also had to keep their mouths open or their ears drums would have blown. It took a full minute for the 2000lb shell to land. It took eight shots to get their range right and then it was game over. There were also a lot of smaller guns made by Skoda. [Even with smaller shells, a single one could kill 70 or more people in one blast; it wasn’t just the guns but also the technique and the quality of the shells that had come on so much.]

August 7: Start of a series of battles, collectively known as the Battle of the Frontiers. It’s a wildly unpredictable contest, full of haymakers, dropped punches and surprise jabs, concluding with a German victory on 6 September. The French are wearing almost the same uniform that their grandfathers wore in 1870 –red trousers and blue jackets with tails, while their officers strut about peacock-like with “shoot me” white hats and white gloves. It’s the old world, the 19th century, heading into a war with the brutal new century. The British were at least wearing khaki. In one of these battles, the French lost 27,000 dead in a single day.

August 8: The Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) is passed in the United Kingdom.

August 9: The BEF heads for France, under General Sir John French: 70,000 men, in five divisions. It’s not a lot compared to Germany’s 85 divisions but the British Army are professional unlike others, with immense experience in the ranks of these ‘Old Contemptibles’, and too many battle honours to memorise. Sir John French did not like the French.

August 15-19: 180,000 ferocious Serbs attack the 200,000-strong Austro-Hungarian army camped along their border and take them unawares. Huge numbers drown in the river. It’s the first Allied victory over the Central Powers in the First World War. This defeat of the Austro-Hungarians adds considerable stress to Von Moltke, the German commander struggling to get through Belgium; it increases the likelihood of Russia scoring victories along the Eastern Front.

August 17: The Russian army arrives on the Eastern Front ahead of schedule, causing further collywobbles to von Moltke, the German commander.

August 20: For many days, Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria had lead a deliberate retreat of German troops through Alsace-Lorraine back into Germany, luring the French army after them … and away from the main action zone in Belgium. This continued until the Crown Prince persuaded von Moltke that the time was ripe for a counter-attack; he did just that on August 20 and utterly crushed the French 2nd Army in southern Lorraine. This created a gap in the line that enabled the Germans to march through and potentially launch attacks on the 1st Army’s flanks and, a deeper thrust on the logistics and supply lines at the very heart of the French force. So the 1st Army had to retreat alongside the 2nd. Joffre then made the mistaken assumption that if there was a major German attack in Belgium and another major German attack in Lorraine, the German centre must be weak… He underestimated just how many German soldiers there were. Nor did he realize that the Germans integrated reserve troops with veteran troops, unlike the French who kept them separately.

August 18-28: The Rape of Belgium, in which over nearly 30,000 Belgian and French civilians perished. No matter how exaggerated the tales of bayoneted babies, raped teenagers and mass atrocity, it was founded on a truth of shocking barbarity from which Germany’s reputation was deeply harmed.

August 23: Battle of Dinant in Belgium concludes when 674 inhabitants were summarily executed by Saxon troops of the German Army — the biggest massacre committed by the Germans in 1914. Within a month, some five thousand Belgian and French civilians were killed by the Germans in what became known as the Rape of Belgium. Oddly, the massacre does not feature in Max Hasting’s book ‘Catastrophe’. I visited Dinant in 2016 with my brother, R. Boyle and M. Forde and we found this story very moving, not least as the 674 dead included a baby and a grandmother. How was it that the Saxons became so fierce within less than 3 weeks of the outbreak of the war that they were able to conduct such a massacre? The concept behind the German severity was that the war must be quick, and if needs be brutal, in order to bring it to a speedy conclusion, and therefore save lives in the long run. That justified, for instance, the collective execution of villagers for the random acts of snipers and bridge saboteurs. Germany did not learn how desperately bad this was for their PR; they did exactly the same in Poland in 1939.

August 24: Jack Colvin, Tom Rathdonnell’s grandson, leads his war-horse Hopit and the 9th Royal Lancers in a cavalry charge into the German lines. Their mission was to buy some time for the British Expeditionary Force to continue its hasty retreat. Such tactics bore a heavy cost; three of Jack’s comrades were killed and eight wounded, including their commanding officer. Indeed, it quickly became apparent that the cavalry traditions of previous centuries were redundant in the face of intense German shelling and machine guns.

Aug 26-30: The Germans under Ludendorff and Hindenburg smash Russia’s 1st and 2nd Armies as they advance towards Berlin, completely outwitting them in the battle of Tannenberg. It takes 60 trains to carry all 92,000 Russian prisoners from the 2nd Army alone back into Germany. Suddenly, Britain and France’s key ally on the eastern front is looking very weak. The Retreat from Mons is well underway, and the Germans, having abandoned the Schlieffen Plan, are closing in on Paris when they suddenly change tack and attack the heavily fortified Franco-German border. It is at this point that General Joffre takes control, sacking a huge number of his top brass generals (men who were good trainers in peacetime but found wanting in war) and starts whizzing up and down the front line, inspecting his troops, in a car driven by Georges Boillot, a former Grand Prix winner. This is Joffre’s moment where, like Churchill in the next war, he puts the French back on track. Some say, what a pity, as if he had not done this, France would have submitted and the war would have been a very short, albeit bloody, one, rather than the global holocaust it was to become.

Arthur Conan Doyle referred to August 1914 as the most terrible August in the history of the world.

September 5 (Saturday): ‘A meeting of the Council of the Royal Dublin Society was held in the Council Chamber, Leinster House, on Thursday last – the Right Hon. Lord Rathdonnell, H.M.L., President, in the chair. On the report of the Committee of Agriculture, it was decided that, owing to the continued occupation of the Society’s agricultural premises at Ballsbridge by the military authorities, the Winter Show of fat cattle, poultry, and farm produce, etc., announced to be held on December 9th and 10th must be abandoned.’ [5]

Sept 6-10: In winning the battle of the Marne, it could be argued that the Anglo-French forces prolonged the war by four long years as the Germans abandon the Schlieffen Plan and dig in. Both sides were now left punch drunk, without a plan; their only option was to slug it out trench to trench. In the first four weeks of the Great War, there had been as many fatalities as the entire US Civil War.

September 9: Trade restrictions brought about by foot and mouth disease are removed. The origin of the disease was not determined.

September 19: ‘A meeting of the Council of the Royal Dublin Society was held in the Council Chamber, Leinster House, on Thursday last – the Right Hon. Lord Rathdonnell, H.M.L., President, in the chair. The following resolution was passed: – Resolved- “That any official or workman in the employment of the Royal Dublin Society who volunteers for the war will have his full salary, less the amount paid by the War Office, and his position kept for him. A letter was read from the Irish Cattle Trader’s Association with reference to the abandoned Winter Show, and other routine business transacted.’ [6]

Oct: The Rathdonnell’s neighbour Louis Murray Phillpotts, DSO (1870-1916), husband of Amy Duckett, is gazetted Lieutenant Colonel.

Oct 22: With his army unable to hold off the Germans anymore, King Albert of Belgium gave the go-ahead to open the sluices along the Yser River, thus flooding the most fertile part of his kingdom with salty sea water. It created a 5-mile wide, shoulder-high lake that separated the advancing Germans from the Belgian force, thus ending the so-called Race to the Sea. On the downside, these Germans now changed course and hurled themselves into a new battle, Ypres.

Oct 19 – Nov 22: Among those killed in the first battle of Ypres are 20,000 German students who had been drafted in from fraternities across the Kaiser’s empire to fight the good fight, only to come up against the elite forces of the British Army, or what was left of them. The event becomes known in Germany as the ‘Massacre of the Innocents’ (Der Kin­dermord bei Ypern). Meanwhile, trench warfare moved on to a new level with the onset of the battle of the Aisne.

Oct 27: The British lose their first battleship of World War I when the super-dreadnought HMS Audacious (23,400 tons) is sunk off Tory Island, north-west coast of Co Donegal, by a German minefield. The sinking was witnessed and photographed by passengers on RMS Olympic, yet kept as an official secret in Britain until just after the end of the war.

Oct 27: Prince Maurice of Battenberg, youngest grandchild of Queen Victoria, killed in action at Zonnebeke in the Ypres Salient, while serving as a lieutenant in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps.

Oct 29: Two former German warships, the Ottoman Yavûz Sultân Selîm and Midilli, conduct the Black Sea raid, bombard the Russian port of Odessa and sink several ships

November 6: Edward Stafford King Harmon killed at Ypres. His remains were never recovered and confirmation of his death takes some time to filter home. His wife Olive had become a wife, widow and mother in 12 months. She last saw him in Liverpool Street Station in London when he hesitated, looked at her and walked on again. Had they had a son, the boy would have inherited both Strokestown and Rockingham; their daughter Lettice (pronounced Lettuce) did not succeed as she was a girl, but Edward’s brother Cecil King Harman did. The story is told in Anne Morrow’s ‘Picnic in a Foreign Land.’

November 23: Birth of William Robert McClintock Bunbury, 4th Baron Rathdonnell, Tom’s grandson and future heir, the only son of Captain Tim McClintock Bunbury and his wife Ethel.

November 24: Birth of Anne Bruen, daughter of (Admiral) EF Bruen and his wife Constance.

November 26: Death of Tom’s uncle Colonel George McClintock, aged 88, at Fellows Hall.

Christmas: Jack Colvin and Hopit dealing with bitter wet weather and cold, knee-deep mud of Meteren. The men have now been trained in infantry warfare – digging trenches, practicing dismounted attacks, sniping, bombing – with occasional breaks for football, point-to-points and even the occasional pheasant shoot. In fact, things went one better when Hubert Hartigan, one of Jack’s fellow officers, returned from leave to Ireland with a pack of Harriers. Hubert went on to co-found the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association and was the leading trainer in Ireland from 1946 to 1948, saddling 13 Irish classic winners.

Amongst those wounded in the war was Major Bramwell. Bill Burgess recalled him as ‘a big man who was very badly wounded in the 1914-1918 War’ and recuperated at Lisnavagh. He bought a horse from Bill’s brother Harry Burgess which he hunted with the Carlow Hunt.

Lennon Wylie’s record of Car & Bicycle ownership in Carlow, 1914-1915, includes Rathdonnell’s car, registration IC 49.

New waterworks opens in Carlow [?].

County Carlow avoids the Compulsory Tillage Order imposed on other counties.




Arthur Thomas Bruen, Kate’s brother and former agent at Lisnavagh, was too old to fight in the Great War but that didn’t stop him from participating. In 1915, Arthur drove his Clement car (perhaps IC 73, registered to Germaine’s in 1914) from his home in Invernesshire to Dover, where he put it on a cross-Channel ferry and embarked for France. Enrolling in the Red Cross, he used it as an ambulance on the front lines for the next six months. Inducted as Second Lieutenant in the Royal Army Service Corps, he remained at the Front until 1919, being used as ‘trouble shooter’ wherever there were supply problems. This information comes from the entry for his grandson, the Falklands War poet Bernie Bruen, on

Tom Rathdonnell subscribes £50 to St Mary’s Church Sustentation; most prominent parishioners put up £1 and the remainder, including Abraham Watchorn, whose son was to be killed during the Easter Rising of 1916, subscribed either 5 or 10 shillings.

Captain Charles Vernon Leslie Poe, son of Capt. George L. Poe, R.N., and Mary Caldecott Poe, of Santry Court, Santry, Co. Dublin, who was killed in 1915. His brother Leonard Poe was the estate manager at Lisnavagh.

March 4: Lady Rathdonnell listed as a patron of the French Wounded Emergency Fund, London (co-opted with the Special War Committee of Ladies the Order of Bt. John Jerusalem) alongside the Countess of Arran, the Countess of Bandon, the Viscountess Powerscourt, the Lady Farnham, the Lady Talbot, the Lady Holmpatrick, the Hon. Mrs. Ernest Guinness, Lady Arnott, Mdme. Des Longchamps, Mrs. Greer. They make an appeal for monetary aid, together with blankets, towels, sheets, vests, pants, flannel shirts, etc., all to be sent to Mrs. Barker, of Diswellstown House, Castleknock, Co. Dublin. [7]

March 8: Captain Charles Vernon Leslie Poe, KRRC, brother of Lisnavagh’s manager Leonard Poe, missing in action.

March 18: The Entente fleet, commanded by Jack de Robeck, comprising 18 battleships with an array of cruisers and destroyers, begins the main attack against the narrowest point of the Dardanelles.

April 14: (Wednesday) Tom Rathdonnell wins 1st prize in the auction sale class at the Spring Show with Norman Baron, a shorthorn bull calved at Lisnavagh in 1913, out of Royal Pearl (s) and Dunmore Farewell. According to The Agricultural Gazette and Modern Farming he was a Scotch top crossed roan.[8]

April 17: Death of Steuart James Charles Duckett, D.L. (1847-1915) of Russellstown Park, County Carlow. He and Tom Rathdonnell were exact contemporaries, as well as old Etonians. Steuart was also Hon Secretary of the Carlow Hunt. In his will, which he made on 3 June, 1903, he bequeathed the residue of his property to his daughter Amy Philpotts, to the detriment of his only son John Steuart Duckett … a court case ensued.

April 25-26: Disastrous landing of Allied troops at Sedd el Bahr, Cape Helles, Gallipoli.

May 7: The Cunard Liner Lusitania bound for Liverpool sunk off the Irish coast by a German submarine with the loss of almost 1,200 lives. Sir Bache Cunard, head of the Cunard Line company, was an old friend of Tom Rathdonnell and had stayed at Lisnavagh.

May 14: Lt. Col. Walter Lorenzo Alexander, 42-year-old commander of the 2nd Battalion of the Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire) Regiment, killed by a shell while inspecting troops at Festubert, just south of Neuve Chapelle. His father George had been land agent to both Milford and Oak Park, and lived at Rathvinden, County Carlow, during the 1860s and 1870s.

May 18:  Percy French, just back from his successful American tour, gives a ‘Humorous Song and Art Recital’ at Naas Town Hall, including many new war songs, stories, and an exhibition of his paintings.

May 25: In H. H. Asquith’s new wartime coalition, Tom Rathdonnell’s old Eton school colleague and former Prime Minister Arthur Balfour becomes First Lord of the Admiralty until 1916, when succeeded by Winston Churchill, son of another of their classmates.

May 31: As the long hot summer of 1915 begins, German Zeppelins launch the First Blitz on London, killing seven and injuring 34.

June: “Lord and Lady Rathdonnell have returned to Ireland from London.” [9]

June 18: Centenary of Battle of Waterloo.

July 12:  Acting Serjeant Thomas Walked is killed in Gallipoli, aged 21yrs. He is the eldest son of Peter Walker, the butcher on Dublin Street, Dublin, and older brother of Edward (Ned) Walker (the father of Philly Walker of Graigue). Peter was a brother of Edward “Dutch” Walker who fought in the Boer War and World War One, and married a sister to ‘The Riordans’ actress Annie D’Alton (née Mullhall). Dutch and Peter were the sons of Thomas Walker and Mary Haughney who lived in Bridwell Lane.

TAKE NOTICE that the final schedule of Incumbrances affecting the proceeds of the sale of the lands of Moyle Big (part of) containing 106a 0r 3p, situated in the Barony and County of Carlow, which has been sold under the above Acts (ie: Land Purchase Act), in fee simple, has been lodged in the Registrar’s Office of this Court at 24 Upper Merrion Street, Dublin; and any persons having any claim not therein inserted, or objecting thereto, either on account of the amount or the priority of any charge therein reported as due to him, or any other person, or for any other reason, is required to lodge an object in thereto, stating the particulars of his demand and duly verified, with the Registrar of this Court on or before the seventh day of July, 1915, and to appear on Thursday, the 15th day of July, 1915, at 11 o’clock before the Judicial Commission are at his Court at the Four Courts, Dublin, when he will adjudicate upon the several claims appearing on such schedule and upon any objections lodged there too.
And Take Notice that any demand reported by such Schedule is liable to be objected to within the time aforesaid.
And further take notice that I have fixed Monday the 12th day of July 1915, at my chamber, at 26 Upper Merrion Street, Dublin, at 12 o’clock, noon, for the vouching of the several claims appearing on the said Schedule, and all parties interested should attend before me on that day with the necessary proofs to vouch their respective claims with a view to the funds being distributed on the said 15th day of July, 1915.
Dated this 21st day of June, 1915.
Henry J Monahan, examiner
SS and E Reeves and Sons,
Solicitors for Vendors, 51 Merrion Square Dublin. [10]

Aug 6:  Start of the disastrous landing at Suvla Bay to try and break the deadlock of the Battle of Gallipoli.

Aug 15: Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Stopford, the British commander at Suvla, is dismissed.

Aug 21: Lord Longford killed by shrapnel at Gallipoli. His last words before his death were reputedly: “Don’t bother ducking, Fred. The men don’t like it and it doesn’t do any good….”  As darkness fell, Sir John Milbanke, Colonel of the Sherwood Rangers, dryly informed his junior officers that he had received his orders from brigade headquarters. ‘We are to take a redoubt but I don’t know where it is and don’t think anyone else knows either, but in any case we are to go ahead and attack any Turks we meet.’ Sir John was married to Amelia Crichton, a niece of the Earl of Erne, and spent much of his time at Mullaboden near Naas, County Kildare, from where he regularly hunted with the Kildare and Meath Hounds. He had won a Victoria Cross in the Anglo-Boer War when, under heavy fire, he about turned his horse, scooped a fallen comrade onto his mount and galloped to safety. In the battle of Scimitar Hill, he advanced into the night, as ordered, and died at the head of his men. Lady Milbanke, Sir John’s widow, would marry Sir Bryan Mahon after the war.

September 13: ‘Lord and Lady Rathdonnell travelled by E.M.S. Pointer from Glasgow to Belfast last night.’[11] (RMS?)

September 27: Captain Eustace Mansfield shot in the neck following an attack in which several senior officers, including General Thesiger, were killed by a shell. Invalided home, he brings his wife’s hunter, Lisnavagh, back with him to Morristown Latten, County Kildare. See ‘Lisnavagh the War Horse.

Oct 9 (Saturday): The Carlow Sentinel reports the death of CAPTAIN J. R. F. LECKY: ‘We learn with regret that Mrs Lecky, Ballykealy, Carlow, has received a telegram announcing that her only son, Captain John Rupert Lecky, Royal Fusiliers, attached to the 2nd Norfolks, has been killed in the Persian Gulf Campaign. Captain Lecky, who was in his 31st year, was only son of late Mr Rupert Lecky, and some months since was home slightly wounded. He served as High Sheriff of Carlow in 1914, and represented one of the oldest county families, deriving originally from Stirlingshire, and being in possession of [their] Carlow estate for over 300 years He was highly popular, and his death will be specially mourned in the Ballon and adjoining districts, when deep sympathy is felt with his bereaved mother, and other relatives.’

Oct 29: Rt Rev Maurice Day, Bishop of Clogher, writes to Lord Rathdonnell from Bishopscourt, Clones, Co. Monaghan, to thank him for contributing £700 to the various Monaghan parishes. In today’s currency, that £700 would equate to £30,000 or €34,000. This letter is now framed at Bishopscourt.

Dec: Evacuation of Gallipoli commences.




Jan 19: ‘Liberty was granted by Mr. Justice Boyd in the King’s Bench to Lord Rathdonnell to issue execution against Michael Kevany, a National teacher, for £25, rent of a house at Celbridge. The defendant said his son had contracted scarlatina from soldiers in a training camp near Bangor, where he was employed in a house frequented by soldiers. He was in Newtownards Hospital for 50 days, and then his employer suggested he should go home. He was at home only a week when two other children took the fever and had to be removed to hospital. Subsequently three others were infected. The doctor suggested he should go into lodgings or get a fresh house. Mr. E. S. Murphy, for the plaintiff, said there was no suggestion of these matters in the correspondence, and the defendant knew that any reasonable offer would be accepted.’ (Irish Independent, 20 January 1916).

Jan 27: The Military Service Act introduces conscription is introduced for all single men aged between 18 and 41 on 15 August 1915. The act prompts a three-fold increase in marriages by the end of the year.

February: Sir Francis Denys-Burton registered the following as the property of the ‘aforementioned’ Trustees, Rathdonnell and Rochfort, 6350 larch and 70 Abies (Douglas Glauea) in a field called “The Slang”. He also proposes “planting in the same field other trees to the number of three hundred or four hundred”.

March 3rd: Lord Desmond FitzGerald, son of the Duke of Leinster, killed during a grenade-throwing exercise in Calais.

April 21: (Good Friday) The Irish Times ‘Fashionable Intelligence’ reports that Lord and Lady Rathdonnell are staying at the Marine Hotel in Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire). On the same day, Sir Roger Casement and the German boat Aud are captured in Kerry prompting Eoin MacNeill to call off a planned rising on Easter Sunday. The organisers of the Rising opt to override MacNeill and reschedule the Rising for Easter Monday.

April 24 (Monday): Outbreak of Easter Rising in Dublin leaves over 450 dead, including 180 civilians and 116 soldiers, RN, RIC, Dublin Metropolitan Police and loyalist volunteers, plus at least 350 wounded. The first British officer killed in Guy Vickery Pinfield from Bishops’ Stortford. A further 614 civilians are injured. Of the ‘rebels’, 15 were executed, 100 were sent to Penal Servitude, 6 were imprisoned and 1700 deported. I don’t yet know how many rebels were killed in action. (This from contemporary accounts of the Unionist newspaper).

As a wise soul by name of GK remarked, the Easter Rising came out of nowhere:

“Three great pillars of a democratic society were in the course of being consolidated in the first decade and a half of the twentieth century. These were the establishment of local government from 1898. Democratically elected representatives were responsible for most aspects of citizens lives. Secondly, the ownership of Irish land was reverting back to the occupiers. Thirdly, there was vast progress being made in the field of education where the brightest were encouraged to achieve ever better educational standards. The justification for revolution was never at a lower ebb. This is displayed in the immediate response of urban and district councils in the aftermath of the rising. How things changed in a few short months.”




The Notebook of 122a Stephen’s Green


Not so long ago a clever woman of my acquaintance reached deep into a bookcase and to our mutual surprise, plucked out a notebook of considerable interest. It was an Eason’s “Terracotta” Reporters Notebook and on the front cover was written:

“Left behind by Sinn Fein occupiers of 122a Stephen’s Green, April 30th 1916”.

Sunday 30 April 1916 was the day that the Easter Rising formally concluded.

Upon investigation, I discovered that 122a Stephen’s Green was the seat of the School of Irish Learning with which Hyde, Moore and others were much involved. A floor in the building was occupied by Mary Susan Bruen and her sister Eleanor Margaret Bruen. Born at Oak Park, Carlow, these were the younger sisters of Lady Rathdonnell (Kate) and daughters of the Rt. Hon Henry Bruen, sometime MP for Carlow. At the age of 58, Mary was perhaps unlikely to be batting eyelids with any of the young revolutionaries. However, the 1911 Census gives her career as a ‘Writer for the Press’, which leads one to wonder what newspaper or magazine she was writing for. I think she and Eleanor were Christian Scientists so I wonder if she wrote for the Christian Science Monitor in Dublin or one of its offshoots. (It is notable that the ‘1916’ notebook is a Reporter’s notebook.) On 26 April 1916, the Christian Science Monitor carried front page reports on the Easter Rising and the arrest of Sir Roger Casement.

The Times of London noted Mary Bruen’s death, at her residence, 122A St Stephen’s Green, on 5 June 1920, following a short illness. Eleanor – described as a ‘Secretary of an Institution’ in 1911 – also never married and died in Boston in 1938.

I don’t yet know whose words are penned on the pages of this notebook but I suspect it was members of Commandant Michael Mallin‘s garrison. On Easter Monday, Commandant Mallin led a small force of 36 soldiers from the Irish Citizen Army, supported by members of the Fianna Eireann and Cumann na mBan, through the large gate at the Fusiliers Arch into St. Stephen’s Green, the 22-acre public park on the south-side of Dublin City. Their primary objective was to occupy and hold the green which would give them control over a large section of traffic in the city centre. The ‘Green’ was also earmarked to serve as the rebels’ principal base should they successfully capture the city. Among those killed in the area of the Green on Easter Monday was James Connor, the manager of Clogrennane Limeworks near Milford in County Carlow, who was shot in his car by the rebels and died subsequently from his wounds.

The notebook refers to two men called ‘Shannon’ and ‘O’B’ which could refer to Martin Shannon and either Liam or Frank O’Briain who served under Mallin at Stephen’s Green. I’m not yet sure what became of them. There is also a reference to a man called ‘Sullivan’.

Tom Rathdonnell was staying at the Marine Hotel in Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire) when the Rising began as it was also the week of the Spring Show at the Royal Dublin Society, of which he was president. John Evelyn Wrench recalls meeting Tom in his memoirs, ‘Struggles, 1914-1920‘, and talks of how Lord Rathdonnell and Mr Doyne were the only two officials who were physically able to reach the show when it began on the Tuesday. They attempted to keep the show in motion while Wrench nipped up Killiney Hill with some binoculars and watched Dublin ‘and notably the Post Office in Sackville Street, which was occupied by the Rebels, being shelled with wonderful accuracy by the gun boats in Kingstown‘.





Private Abraham Watchorn (1894-1916)


Abraham’s gravestone at Grangegorman.

Abraham Watchorn (1894-1916)

The flames of the Easter Rebellion fanned right into Lisnavagh with the death of a 21-year-old local boy who was serving in the British Army that week. Private Abraham Watchorn of the 5th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers was killed in action on Easter Wednesday (26 April 1916). He was a son of Abraham Watchorn, of Williamstown, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, by his Carlow-born wife Jane, daughter of George James. [12]

Born in Dundrum, Co. Dublin, on 20 October 1894, Abraham had been educated in the Lisnavagh Schoolhouse and was working as a farmer when the First World War broke out. He enlisted with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers on 22 November 1915. Official reports say the regiment was brought to Dublin from The Curragh, arriving in Dublin at 3.45am on Tuesday 25 April. They appear to have gone straight into action around Dublin Castle.

Abraham was probably involved in a major assault on the Volunteer occupied offices of the Daily Express on Dame Street when a detachment of the 5th Battalion under 2nd Lieutenant F O’Neill charged the building with bayonets. It required five assaults over the next hour or so before the building was taken; 22 Irish Volunteers were killed. Private Watchorn is assumed to have been mortally injured in the action. He died at the Red Cross Hospital at Dublin Castle the following day and was buried in Grangegorman Military Cemetery. He is amongst those named on the Great War memorial on the organ in St. Mary’s Church in Rathvilly.

Photos courtesy of Paul Horan and Paul Maguire, Curator of the Carlow County Military Museum.

That same Easter Wednesday, a detachment of 2,000 Sherwood Forresters arrived at Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire). As the late Alex Findlater wrote, they were:

‘… inexperienced troops and somewhat confused. Some even thought they were in France. Food was short because the kitchens and rations had not arrived, though the officers enjoyed the hospitality of the very unionist Royal St George Yacht Club, where members were able to pass on the latest rumours about the fighting, with no doubt generous doses of paranoid talk about Irish treachery. As a result, the officers became extremely suspicious and forbade the ordinary soldiers to accept the gifts of tea, chocolate, oranges, bananas, sandwiches and sweets that the loyal residents of Kingstown and Blackrock showered on them. Big Billy Vaughan, manager of the Blackrock Findlater’s, solved the problem by rolling apples and oranges down the street for the young soldiers to pick up’.

Alex Findlater also told a particularly poignant story about one of his grandfather’s in-laws, a barrister from Nottingham called Frederick Christian Dietrichsen  who was an officer in the Sherwoods. Unbeknownst to Christian, his two young daughters had been sent to Dublin for safety to escape the danger of zeppelin raids. They were actually in Blackrock waving flags on the pavement when Christian marched the Sherwoods through.

His fellow officers saw him drop out of the column and fling his arms around the children. It was a joyful scene with no hint of the tragedy to come’. [13]

The Forresters were en route to oust the rebel leaders from the General Post Office on O’Connell Street. They paused at the Royal Dublin Society’s premises in Ballsbridge where Lord Rathdonnell was attempting to host the Spring Show. J. E. Wrench, who recalls it as ‘a very hot day’ remembers how:

‘... the English troops marched up from Kingstown and generally made a halt when they reached Ballsbridge before they got into the line of fire. One British regiment consisted of young recruits, such a nice lot of boys. We brought them lemonade, for which they were most grateful. Only six or eight hundred yards on they had to pass houses that were occupied by rebel snipers, and nearly two hundred of them were killed and many wounded. It always seemed to me such a wanton waste of life, though we tried to explain to them as well as we could the geography of the streets in that part of Dublin and what they might expect’.

As the two battalions of Sherwood Foresters approached Mount Street Bridge, they came in for a big surprise. De Valera had surveyed the Westland Row and Grand Canal district in the weeks preceding the Rising. He had considered the military possibilities and now his planning was to pay off. The Volunteers at Mount Street Bridge secured perfect positioning for a crossfire ambush. The Forresters walked into a death trap. Their attempts to charge the rebels were utterly suicidal. In a battle that ultimately lasted from noon to 8pm, 234 British officers and men were killed or wounded, marking almost half of the total British Military losses for the whole week of the Rising. Only four Volunteers were killed in the same battle. During the early part of the action, Mick Malone slipped down to the battalion HQ in the Bakery and warned de Valera that they needed a fast firing weapon urgently. The bespectacled Commandant unbuckled his own Mauser, handed it over with 400 rounds of ammo and said, ‘Sorry I cannot do more for you’.

When the superior British firepower eventually overwhelmed the Volunteers, Malone was among the four killed in the final assault. Amongst the Forresters slain in the Battle of Mount Street Bridge was Nottingham barrister Frederick Christian Dietrichsen. A Memorial to the Volunteers stands by the bridge today. There is no such record of the unfortunate Forresters who perished, although a number of them seem to have been buried in the military cemetery at Grangegorman.

Mick Purcell drew my attention to another of Wrench’s remarks where he says: ‘Perhaps my upbringing in Fermanagh has enabled me to see “the other fellow’s standpoint” so wholeheartedly that sometimes I find that I am almost taking sides against myself. It is an uncomfortable state of affairs!’

I sometimes wonder whether, for all his Unionism, Tom Rathdonnell might not have thought a bit like that.

On the Sunday, Nurse O’Farrell delivered Pearse’s order to surrender to de Valera. At first, Dev thought that this was a British ploy but when he was finally convinced that it was genuine, he instructed his men to ensure all arms were put out of action lest they be of use to the enemy. None of his men were prepared to carry the white flag of surrender, so it fell to a Red Cross worker to hold it while de Valera’s vice-commandant, Joseph O’Connor, marched the men out onto Grattan Street where they were ordered to ‘ground arms’. It galled de Valera to see the local people coming out from their homes to offer cups of tea to the British soldiers while ridiculing the Volunteers for their actions. ‘If only you had come out to help us,’ he chided, ‘even with knives, you would not behold us like this.’[14]

After their surrender, de Valera was taken to the Pembroke Town Hall in Ballsbridge where he was locked up in the weights and measures room. Meanwhile his men were placed in bull stalls at the nearby showgrounds of the Royal Dublin Society. [15] These included Tom Traynor, a bootmaker from Tullow who had been shot across the cheek while clearing Westland Row train station. As Volunteer Seamus Murphy recalled:

‘A Bull Show had been arranged for the Show Grounds and some animals had arrived. The bulls were taken out of the stalls and we were put in their place. We were packed in tightly and remained there until Tuesday morning. During the time there we had two meals a day, consisting of billy beef, hard biscuits and tea’.

They remained at the RDS for two nights before their transferral on Tuesday morning to Richmond Barracks, where there was already a queue of prisoners waiting to be tried. The delay was to save de Valera’s life. De Valera appears to have been court martialled on Wednesday 3 May and, like all battalion commandants, he was sentenced to death. A letter he wrote on the evening of the 3rd indicates that he fully expected to die the following morning. However, the executions of the other ringleaders had generated such a negative effect on public opinion that his death sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life. His US citizenship was not used in his favour and he himself made no claims on that basis.

The Rathdonnells appear to have had an extraordinary interest in what they called ‘The Sinn Fein Rebellion’, gathering various postcards and clippings from the period into an album, as well as a handwritten copy of the Proclamation of Independence and a notebook. This may stem from Kate Rathdonnell’s sister, Miss Mary Susan Bruen, who lived at 122A St Stephen’s Green at this time, as per my earlier remarks on the notebook. The building was also the seat of the School of Irish Learning with which Hyde, Moore and others were much involved.

The bombardment of Dublin left it looking very much like a wartime European city. The British response was also akin to the wartime response – bomb the city and execute the leaders – rather than the moderate reaction it merited.

Among those working at Lisnavagh at this time were John Abbey, a former British Army man who worked with horses, and his son, Thomas, known as Tommy. They lived on Phelan Street, Rathvilly, at the time of the 1911 census. They were kinsmen of Nellie O’Toole, who I interviewed for the Vanishing Ireland project. Tommy left Lisnavagh to join the Dublin Metropolitan Police, and then the Garda in 1922. His descendant Patricia Rafferty has a written reference for him from Lord Rathdonnell.




April 24: Ernest Shackleton and five men of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition launch a lifeboat from uninhabited Elephant Island in the Southern Ocean to organise a rescue for the crew of the ice-trapped ship Endurance.

April 26: The killing of Sheehy Skeffington by Bowen-Colthurst prompts Monk Gibbon to resign his commission in the British Army, although no records of this have yet been traced.

May 19: French air ace Georges Boillot, winner of the 1912 and 1913 French Grand Prix, and chauffeur to General Joffre in the early part of the war, is killed in a dogfight with five German Fokkers, having shot one down.

31 May – 1 June: Just over a month after Tom is caught up in the Easter Rebellion, Kate Rathdonnell’s brother (later Admiral) E.F. Bruen commands HMS Bellerophon (aka the Billy Ruffian) at the Battle of Jutland. She fired sixty-two 12-inch rounds and received no damage. After the battle she swept with the other vessels of the Grand Fleet regularly. ‘Eddo’, as he was apparently known, commanded HMS Resolution throughout the rest of the First World War, ending up as an Admiral. In April 2019 my brother William and I visited HMS Caroline in Belfast; known to her crew as Carry, she is the sole survivor of Jutland today.

June 5: Lord Kitchener killed when HMS Hampshire hit a German laid mine and sank off the west coast of Orkney. Kitchener had been appointed Secretary of State for War in 1914 by Asquith but was relieved by Lloyd George following his lack of success in Flanders and the Pas de Calais.  He had been sent to advise the Czar on how to deal with the Bolsheviks. He was on his way to Russia when the Hampshire was sunk; all his medals and regalia went down with him. There is an enormous granite monument on the cliff at Orkney overlooking the spot where the ship sank.

June 12: The Ulster Unionist Council agrees to the immediate implementation of Home Rule if six Ulster counties are temporarily excluded.

July 1Massacre on the Somme, leaves 20,000 British dead and 40,000 wounded on first day. Among those who fought in this dreadful battle were Norman Stronge, Alan Cameron, Ted Brown (of Alcock & Brown), Eric Dorman-Smith (Chink), JRR Tolkein, Hubert Gough, William Allgood, Captain Maurice Collis-Sandes (killed) and Kingsley Doyle (son of Sir Arthur). Over 5,500 Ulstermen were killed or disabled going over the top for King and Empire.

War Update

1) DORA limits pub opening hours and ups prices on spirits. Serving soldiers are also barred from drinking and nobody is allowed to shout rounds. The distilling industry is also virtually closed down. After the war, wives were so petrified by their husbands’ severe penchant for drinking that they urged the government to restrict their access to alcohol.
2) Irish farmers have a huge role in feeding the largest British Army in history and the demand for agricultural produce is the greatest since the Napoleonic Wars, not least with so many ships being sunk and German U-boats effectively blocking imports to England and Ireland. DORA orders farers to convert land to tillage so that where 12% of Ireland was in tillage in 1914, it was upped to 39% at the peak of the war. Labourers wages rose in tandem with the profits and, while recruitment posters urged southern famers and labourers to ‘Join Up and Defend’, relatively few of them actually did.
3) The government was obliged to conceded to the unions during the war in order to avoid conflict at home; it was the Unions who would leap opposition to conscription while women were increasingly to the fore.
4) The VAD nurses needed sphagnum moss for cotton wool and this was washed, sorted and graded by a team of 6,000 volunteers – creating 300,000 dressings in 1917 alone which were sent to field hospitals in every theatre of war.
5) There were 23 auxiliary War Hospitals in Ireland with wounded amputees wearing pale blue colours everywhere reminding the nurses of the fate that might befall their loved ones on the frontlines.

July 6 (Thursday): The Court Circular of The Times informed its readers that “Lord Rathdonnell has returned to Lisnavagh“. It was the King and Queen’s 23rd wedding anniversary.

August 3Sir Roger Casement is hanged for treason.

September 4: ‘Lord Rathdonnell has been adding to his promising Shorthorn herd at Lisnavagh, Rathvilly, and has secured with other selections from Scotland one or two members of the Groat family from the herd of Colonel Johnston of Linksfield, Elgin, including the dam of Red Baron, the stud bull in the herd of the Hon. Frederick Wrench, Killaooona, Ballybrack, that has proved such a veritable gold mine him.’ (Aberdeen Journal). When I alerted my father to this reference in June 2016, he responded, “Why yes! One of the magnificent ladies I inherited forty something years later was named Muriel Groat XVI; I was not previously aware of the reason.”

Sept 8: Death in action of Brigadier General Louis Murray Phillpotts, DSO (1870-1916), husband to Amy Duckett.

Sept 9: Death in action of Tom Kettle and Captain Bill Murphy of Kill House, County Carlow, at battle of at Ginchy on the Somme; Emmet Dalton, who was with them survives. On the 102nd anniversary of their death, I chanced to stop at Kill House and talk with Tom Bolger whose grandfather bought the property after Captain Murphy’s death.

November 10: Corporal Francis Salter, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment, died of wounds in Flanders. He may have grown up beside Lisnavagh at Knocknagan. He was the son of Peter [?] Salter and Mary Benniger who married in 1898; he appears to have been born in 1895 and thus out of wedlock.

November 13: End of battle of Somme.

November 21: Britannic hits a naval mine of the Imperial German Navy near the Greek island of Kea and sinks 55 minutes later, killing 30 people. Violet Jesspo is among the survivors; she brings her toothbrush. A sister ship of Titanic, it had been completed as a hospital ship before being sent to Gallipoli.

Dec 5: Asquith resigns.

Dec 7: Lloyd George forms a new Coalition ministry with the backing of the Tories. Tom’s former school colleague (and former Prime Minister) Arthur Balfour becomes Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, 1916–1919.

December 18: End of battle of Verdun.

December 30: Assassination of Rasputin. For the Tsar, Rasputin had been like a cigarette habit you can’t kick, says Dan Carlin. His rise to power had been as outrageous as Nick Nolte’s character from ‘Down and Out in Beverley Hills’ taking control of Queen Elizabeth – except she has little power and the Tsar has absolute power.




When Ireland’s revolution erupted between 1916 and 1923, the 2nd Baron Rathdonnell became one of the key players in deciding the fate of the 32 counties.

Dr Joseph John Nolan, MD, from Tullow, Co Carlow, lost two sons, Edward and James, aged 32 and 21, killed within eight months of each other in 1917.

January: Heaviest snowfall recorded in Ireland.

January 11: RDS Council meet to recommend that the Society calls on George Noble Count Plunket to resign his membership of the society because of his involvement in the Easter Rising. The society accepts the council’s recommendations by 236 votes to 56.

January 16, (Tuesday) – ‘Lord and Lady Rathdonnell are at present staying in Dublin’ – The Irish Times.

January 25: Sinking of the SS Laurentic, a White Star liner, off Lough Swilly, with the loss of 354 died lives. There was also 43 tons of gold stowed on board, most of which has since been recovered.

Feb 1: Germany resumes unrestricted submarine warfare.

February 3: ‘The Noble Count Plunkett’, a colleague of Tom Rathdonnell’s from the RDS, is elected as the first Sinn Fein T.D. for North Roscommon during a bye-election that contemporaries called the ‘Election of the Snows’ when a blizzard similar to that of February 1947 struck Ireland. There were snow drifts of up to six feet high at the time.

Feb 24: Private M. Byrne, Royal Dublin Fusiliers, of Rathvilly, killed in France.

March 3: RMS Connaught, a sister ship of RMS Leinster and originally part of the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company line, is torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-48 while returning to Southampton from Le Havre. Three crewmen were killed; the rest of the crew took to lifeboats. Connaught sank within four minutes of the second torpedo striking.

By 1917 there was a panic that the Republicans in Ireland would free the German prisoners and the Germans were thus transferred to the UK.

Kate Rathdonnell’s brother (Admiral) Eddo Bruen commanding HMS Resolution.

May 9: Ballintemple, the last Butler seat in County Carlow, was destroyed by what most believe to have been a straightforward accident, a fire started when a plumbers blow-lamp set the dry-rot filled roof rafters alight. Sir Richard Butler is believed to have been serving with the 60th Rifles (now the Green Jackets) in France.

In 1917, Monsignor Delaney returned to Rathvilly after a serious operation and found himself unable to sleep on account of the racket from the village green which had been a camping ground for circuses, traveling shows and itinerants ever since the Rathvilly fairs ceased in the late 1880s. They presented their shows right beside the church. The Monsignor asked Edward O’Toole, ‘was it not possible to compel the itinerants to take up their stands in a position less disturbing?’ Ultimately this meant that the green was enclosed and planted with ornamental shrubs. [16]

March 8: Russian Revolution kicks off. Many in UK and US felt the ‘February Revolution’ was a Good Thing! The initial aims were simply the toppling of a military dictator and his replacement by a constitutional government.

AprilWilliam Orpen heads to Ypres as official war artist. German submarines sink 433 British and neutral ships; UK under major pressure; Russia still in turmoil. The ports along east coast of the US are clogged up with boats that won’t sail because of the submarines, many laden with perishables. President Wilson is under immense pressure.

April 6: USA joins Allies and declares war on Germany. The U.S. Army is only ranked 17th in the world at the time. After the declaration of war, the U.S. Navy is immediately deployed to take on the German submarines. The USA also lowers its interest rates for its Allies and begins pumping in major financial assistance, while rapidly modernising its army and artillery supplies.

April 10: Ludendorff let’s Lenin back into Russia, which Dan Carlin likens to starting a fire in your next-door neighbour’s apartment, knowing that the consequences may be that your own apartment catches fire.

May 16: Lloyd-George announces that he wants immediate Home Rule for the 26 counties of Ireland. Six north-eastern counties are to be excluded for a period of 5 years.

June: German aeroplanes drop bombs on London, killing 18 five-year-olds at a school in Poplar in the East End, and injuring 37 more.

June 19: The British royal family renounce the German names and titles of Saxe-Coburg, (responding to anti-German sentiment) and become Windsor; Private Alfred Corrigan, South Irish Horse, the 22-year-old son of William and Susan Corrigan, of Garretstown, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, killed at Loos.

June 21: Irish suffrage campaigners expressed their delight – and surprise – at the electoral reform that passed through parliament in London with an enormous majority. [17]

June 27: Lt Christopher Prior Wandesforde of Castlecomer House in County Kilkenny is fatally gassed in battle of Arras, aged just 20 years.

June 29: Death from injuries of Brevet Colonel Sir AnthonyWeldon, aged 54. He had been commanding officer of the military forces stationed in Limerick during the Easter Rising. Michael Colivet, Commander of the Limerick Volunteers, later observed: ‘Weldon was a very considerate man and Limerick was the only district where severe measures were not taken after Easter week’.  In 1917 he went to France in command of the 4th Bn of the Leinster Regiment but suffered a stroke after being injured. He was admitted to Dr. Wheeler’s Hospital for Officers in Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin, where he died. He was buried in Athy, Co Kildare.

June 30: The Carlow Sentinel records that Lord Rathdonnell has subscribed £50 to a ward of 26 beds allocated to the British Red Cross Society’s Irish Counties Hospital in Carlow. His subscription was topped by two others – the Carlow Town and District Red Cross Branch itself with £150, and the County Carlow Red Cross Branch at £100, so his personal donation was a big deal. All the other gentry &c. donated €20, €10, or less.

July 10: Sir James Stronge’s only son, James Matthew Stronge married Winnifred Alexander of Carrickmoyle. He was killed five weeks later, causing a succession crisis at Tynan Abbey.

July 17: RMS Carpathia, the ship that rescued the 705 survivors from the RMS Titanic, is sunk off Ireland by the German SM U-55; five lives are lost.

July 25: At the first meeting of the Irish Convention, it becomes clear to Rathdonnell and the Southern Unionists that the Ulster Unionists are so opposed to Home Rule that they are prepared to break away. Hence, the concept of a Six-County (originally Nine-County) Ulster is born. The British government seem to have little interest in the south, its war-torn eyes focused still on the great ship-building industry in Belfast. The government was also preoccupied by one of the most disastrous years in the war. Ireland was a low priority. Sinn Fein was correct when they sceptically suggested Lloyd-George’s interest in resolving the Irish crisis was so he could appease Irish-American interests in Washington and get the USA on side for the war effort.

July 31: Francis Ledwidge, poet, killed by a stray shell near Pilkem Wood on first day of the Third Battle of Ypres.

Aug 13: W.T. Cosgrave elected as the new MP for Kilkenny City. A member of Sinn Féin, Cosgrave’s victory in the by-election delivered another boost to the party. He received over 66% of the vote, defeating the Irish Parliamentary Party’s John Magennis, former mayor of the city.

Aug 16James Matthew Stronge, the 26-year-old Tynan heir, was killed while serving as a Lieutenant with the Royal Irish Fusiliers at the battle of Langemarck (Ypres) in France; his name heads the war memorial at the church in Tynan. He had been married just five weeks earlier to Winnifred Alexander of Carrickmoyle. The celebrated Military Chaplin Father Willie Doyle was killed in the same action that very day.

August: Royal Navy adopts dazzle painting as per the artist Norman Wilkinson.

Sept 21: Henry Bruen paints a watercolour of Lisnavagh.

Sept 25: Death on hunger strike of Thomas Ashe.

October 2HMS Drake, the armoured cruiser and former flagship of the Australia Station, formerly commanded by both Admiral Jellicoe and Edward Bruen, is torpedoed near Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim. Eighteen men in Boiler Room No. 2 are killed.

Oct 20: 52-year-old W. B. Yeats marries 25-year-old Georgie Hyde-Lees (1892–1968), mother of his two children. Mrs Yeats would later survive a bout of Spanish Flu, while I once slept in the bedroom she where passed away.

Oct 25: 1,700 Sinn Féin delegates attend a convention in the Mansion House; De Valera replaces Arthur Griffith as the president of Sinn Féin,

Nov 2: The Balfour Declaration proclaims British support for the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” with the clear understanding “that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities”. And lo, the Jewish people were offered a new homeland in Palestine.

Nov 6: Battle of Passchendaele: After 3 months of fierce fighting, Canadian forces take Passchendaele in Belgium.

Dec 11: General Allenby and the British army enter Jerusalem on foot, coming in the symbolic guise of pilgrims rather than conquerors. Lawrence of Arabia is amongst them but his broad smiles will fade when he learns the implications of the Balfour Declaration, which will utterly betray all the promises he made to the Arabs.

Dec 12 (circa): ‘Royal Dublin Society. A general meeting of the members was held last week in Leinster House (Lord Rathdonnell, president, presiding) for the purpose of electing honorary officers, members of sections of the Council, of the standing committees of the Council and of trustees of the National library, etc., and the approval of proposed amendments of certain by-laws. The honorary officers and members of sections of the Council were declared re-elected, the number of Candidates not exceeding the number of vacancies to filled. The other offices were filled by ballot. The various amendments to the by-laws—ten in number—were gone through and approved of.’ [18]

Dec 14: The SS Hare, a steamship operating out of Dublin Port, was on what would be her final voyage from Manchester to Dublin when she was struck by a torpedo by the German submarine U-62 around seven miles east of Kish lightship. 12 souls were lost in the attack.

Dec 15: The Waterford Steamships SS Formby and SS Coningbeg are struck down by German submarines. A total of 83 people were lost with 67 of them from Waterford and the surrounding areas. Both ships were operated by the Clyde Shipping Company and worked the route from Waterford to Liverpool carrying general cargo, livestock and foodstuffs.

Dec 27: SS Adela torpedoed while travelling to Liverpool carrying a cargo of Livestock and coal. She sank around 12 miles northwest of the Skerries off Anglesey, taking with her 24 lives.

Lord Rathdonnell presents Boyle Medal to Professor Henry Horatio Dixon (1869-1953).

Tom Rathdonnell on the Executive Committee of the Unionist Alliance when they met in 1917 shortly after the British government threatened to introduce conscription to Ireland.

Henry Bruen sells Castleboro House for £15,000 (a record price for a farm sale in Wexford at that time) to an industrious farmer called James R Dier, JP, of Clonroche, Co. Wexford. The house would be burned down six years later.




Jan 24: Woodrow Wilson, US President, denies reports that he sought to influence the British government regarding the Irish question.

Jan 28: The Stronges of Tynan Abbey would have been closely following the South Armagh by-election campaign begins with Dr Patrick McCartan as the Sinn Féin candidate. The election was held to fill the seat vacated by the death of Charles O’Neill, the Irish Parliamentary Party MP for South Armagh since 1885. In the January 1910 election, O’Neill was elected without opposition. The IPP unanimously selected Patrick Donnelly, a Newry-based solicitor, to halt Sinn Féin but McCartan was a formidable opponent – ‘the man known all over the world, the first Ambassador of Ireland to America, who has faced every sort of danger in order to bring the condition of Ireland before the nations of the world’. The Unionists also fielded a candidate, Thomas W. Richardson, but in this land of small farmers and nationalist mindsets, he hadn’t a hope. It was a fiercely contested and bitter affair, punctuated not only by allegations and counter allegations, but by physical disturbances. The seat was won on 1 February by Patrick Donnelly.

Feb 5: The Representation of the People Act passed by the British Parliament receives the Royal Assent, extending the right to vote to all men over 21 and women over the age of 30 who met certain property requirements or had a university education. (Only in 1928 did women finally achieve equal voting rights with men.) The franchise is also extended to include men over the age of 19 who had served in the armed forces. Eligible men and women still serving overseas were placed on Absent Voters Lists to vote by proxy or post. Their first opportunity to use it comes at the General Election on 14 December 1918.

For Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, co-founder of the Irish Women’s Franchise League, there was a strange irony that on this same day, Captain Bowen-Colthurst – responsible for the murder of her husband Francis Sheehy Skeffington and two other civilians during the Easter Rising – was released from Broadmoor Asylum.

Feb 5: The SS Tuscania, a Cunard passenger liner converted for troop use is torpedoed off Rathlin Island, north of Ireland by U-boat 77. The ship was carrying over 2,000 troops heading for the war in Europe. Over 200 people lost their lives.

Feb 14: Commander F. McCrary, United States Navy, assumed command of the United States naval air stations, Ireland, and remained in command throughout the war with headquarters at Queenstown.

March 3: Russia abandons the war effort, freeing up a million Germans to launch a counter-offensive along the Western Front.

March 6: Death of John Redmond, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party.

March 8: SS Kenmare, a merchant ship with the Cork Steampacket Company, is torpedoed, killing 29 of the 35 men on board.

March 11: At a military base in Kansas, there are outbreaks of an unusually severe form of influenza, which are later understood to be amongst first recorded cases of the Spanish Flu. Over the coming year, this strain of flu kills an estimated 50,000,000 people.

March 21 – 18 July: The German Spring offensive is the German military machine’s last gamble to win the war before the Allies, reinforced by American troops, became too strong. The Germans threw everything into the first punch, including huge numbers of their best troops. It was enormously successful, at first, but when the rocket fuel ran out – as Dan Carlin would put it – the attack fatally petered out. Despite making major gains, the German army failed to pierce the Allied line. Weakened by the loss of their best troops and hampered by over-extended supply lines, the German army becomes vulnerable to Allied counter-offensives.

March 29: Pennsylvania-born Private James Doyle (1895-1918), son of Thomas Doyle and Anne Doyle, of Knocklisheen More, near Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, killed while serving with 1st Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers. He is buried at Epehy Wood Farm Cemetery by the Somme.

March 30: ‘Lady Rathdonnell, Lisnavagh House, Co. Carlow, has forwarded £35 11s to the Leinster Regiment Prisoners of War Fund, being money collected in Co. Carlow.’[19]

April 5: The Irish Convention finally winds up after over eight months of largely irrelevant wrangling, following its 51st and final meeting at Trinity College Dublin. It ends with votes of thanks to its chairman, Sir Horace Plunkett, and to its host, the Provost and Fellows of Trinity College who placed Regent House and its accommodation at the disposal of the Convention.

Its conclusion coincided with the arrival of 42 fresh German divisions on the Western Front, and the Allied realisation that the solution to their acute manpower shortage could be to accede to Unionist demands for the extension of Compulsory Military Service to Ireland.

April 9: Despite warnings of a nationwide insurrection in protest against conscription, Lloyd George’s cabinet go ahead and enact the bill. Britain was soon faced with a powerful anti-conscription alliance of 100,000 Irish Volunteers, the Irish Parliamentary Party, Sinn Fein, the Irish Labour Party, the Trade Unions and, crucially, the Catholic hierarchy. Together they persuaded the vast majority of Irish people to take a pledge against conscription.

April 13: Joseph Dowling, a British soldier and Connaught Ranger, was arrested shortly after he had been landed by canvas canoe from a German submarine off the coast of Clare. The British government then overplayed its hand by seizing upon unfounded rumours that this was part of a Sinn Fein plot to unite with Germany.

April 19: Death of William de Vismes Kane of Drumreaske, County Monaghan.

April 21: Anti-conscription pledge by nationalists – In response to the passing of the Military Service Bill by the House of Commons, which empowers the British Government to enforce conscription on all Irish men of military age, an anti-conscription pledge is signed throughout the country. The pledge is brought about by Irish Anti-Conscription Committee, an alliance of leading Irish nationalists, including Eamon de Valera, John Dillon and Arthur Griffith. The move, which is supported by the Catholic Church in Ireland, reflects the mood amongst the Irish public towards what has become an increasingly unpopular war. Although the Irish Parliamentary Party spearheads opposition to the Military Service Bill at Westminster, Sinn Féin are the most vocal proponent of the anti-conscription movement and claim a large degree of support throughout the country.

April 23: General strike across Ireland in protest against proposals to introduce conscription.

May 16-17: Lord French, the new Viceroy, announces “German Plot”. Over 150 leading Irish nationalists are arrested under DORA and interned in prisons across the UK. Whether due to false intelligence or an ill-advised black propaganda campaign, Dublin Castle alleged that Sinn Féin was plotting with the German Empire to start an armed insurrection in Ireland to divert the British war effort. This was used to justify the internment of many anti-conscription leaders. Some escaped capture while others chose to be taken in order to secure a propaganda victory. Ultimately it was the more moderate Sinn Feiners they captured while those aligned with the Irish Republican Brotherhood (and thus more committed to physical force republicanism) remainder at large and very angry. This allowed Michael Collins to consolidate his control of the organisation and put it on a more focused military footing. [The moderation of the immediate post Rising period had been challenged internally by the GAA since at least March 1918, presumably when it became apparent the Convention was going to fail.] As doubts mounted over the credibility of the so-called German Plot, the incarcerated Irish nationalists could at least enjoy the growing support their cause was now getting not just in Ireland but also among the Irish in both the UK and the USA.

May 17: Death in action of Kane Bunbury’s great-grandson, James Kane-Smith:

ROLL OF HONOUR. LIEUT. JAMES KANE-SMITH, M.C. We regret to find amongst the official causality list this week the death of this gallant young Carlow soldier, who was eldest son of Mr and Mrs Kane-Smith, Little Moyle. He was attached to the R.F.A., and some months back was reported wounded and missing, but hopes of recovery were entertained up to the last. He was awarded the M.C. for distinguished services, while his kind and genial disposition made him a fast favourite amongst his many friends, who mourn his loss, and sympathise deeply with his bereaved parents.’ (Carlow Sentinel)

July 4: Morale boosting victory at Hamel.

July 8: First armed attack on Royal Irish Constabulary at Beal a Ghleanna, West Cork.

July 16-17: The Russian Imperial Romanov family (Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Tsarina Alexandra and their five children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei), and all those who chose to accompany them into imprisonment, are savagely and incompetently massacred, shot, bayoneted and clubbed to death in Yekaterinburg. The town was about to fall to White Russians, which is one reason why they were slain. The Romanovs are now saints in the Russian Orthodox calendar. Helen Rappaport gave an excellent account of it all to mark the centenary on Dan Snow’s History Hit.

July 26-31: Leading Irish Air Aces Mick Mannock and George ‘McIrish’ McElory are killed within 5 days of one another.

August 8-12: General Charles Kavanagh commands the British Cavalry Divisions at Battle of Amiens – his father was Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh, the limbless Carlow MP, while his brother Walter served on Carlow County Council from 1910-1918.

August 8: The Hundred Days Offensive begins with what would become known to Germans as the Black Day. The battle of Amiens transpired to be the long-awaited breakthrough moment for the Allies. It was an inspired early example of a deception operation, bringing the Canadians and Australians to stand shoulder to shoulder, while simultaneously fooling the Germans that was not the basis of another major attack, that the Canadians were elsewhere. This followed the uplifting conquest of Hamel on 4 July, as well as the fact that the German Spring Offensive had failed, albeit at a huge cost to the Allies. On 8 August, the Canadians and Australians advanced between six and 8 miles, a huge distance relative to that gained over the previous years.

Sept 30: Horace de Vere Cole marries Denise Daly (who later marries my uncle, Anthony Drew). Horace’s sister Anne is married to Neville Chamberlain.

October 1: Sir Richard Butler, 60th Rifles (now the Green Jackets), is one of the first men to reach Damascus in the wake of the city’s fall to General Allenby. It is sometimes said that this was when he heard the news of the Ballintemple fire but that had taken place 17 months earlier.

Oct 7: A ‘mammoth’ auction in support of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Prisoners of War fund was held in the Mansion House. In attendance were the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Chief Justice and Viscount Powerscourt.

Oct 8: Widespread flooding takes place after a battering of storms across Ireland.

October 10: RMS Leinster sunk by two torpedoes, leaving 529 dead in Ireland’s worst maritime disaster. Among the dead is Tom Rathdonnell’s cousin Jocelyn Alexander, known to his family as Joe, son of the Primate of Ireland his wife CF Alexander, the hymn writer. Born in 1852 and educated at Winchester and Brasenose College, Oxford, alongside Jack Bunbury, he was awarded the Newdigate Prize for Poetry (which Oscar Wilde also won) in 1874. He married his cousin Anne Humphries in 1876, lived in London and worked as one of was HM Inspectors of Schools. He was survived by his wife and daughter Betty; their only son died aged 8 months. Joe Alexander was buried in Derry.

October 23: Birth of the Rathdonnell’s nephew (Lt Col) Francis Bruen (DSC), only son of (Admiral) Edward Francis Bruen and his wife Constance. The boy’s father, who was then commanding 2nd Cruiser Squadron, was awarded the order of Companion of the Bath and also received high decorations from France, Russia and Japan.

To The Editor of the Nationalist. October 23rd 1918.
Dear Mr. Editor – In connection with the letter appearing in your issue of last week under the name “Fisherman” , I would like to emphasise that the matter referred to by your anonymous correspondent is a fishery question and I would also ask all the licensed fishermen interested to inquire who “Fisherman” is, as I think that an anonymous letter-writer is not only a public danger but also a coward – Yours truly, Kane J. Smith.’[20]

October:  The Spanish Flu, an unprecedented, strange new phantom disease, which seems to have originated in China arrived at Etaples, a staging post on Western Front, in January 1918, at a similar time to its emergence in Kansas. There was a second outbreak in June-July 1918 but much the worst came in the Fall of 1918. Those afflicted likened it to fighting with a ghost. There was a certain degree of press censorship about the subject among the Allied powers in order not to cause further alarm to the already war-weary people of the world. Spain had been a neutral country during the war so that was one reason why they took the rap! The pandemic was characterised by blood coming out of one’s nostrils and anus, like an old-fashioned horror story, and put those suffering from bronchitis or pneumonia in a particularly perilous condition. The mortality rate for those infected was a whopping 20%; normally it is 1/20 of 1%. An estimated 50,000,000 people are said to have died, marking nearly 4% of the world’s population. That included 23,000 in Ireland (from over 800,000 affected; there were 20,057 certified deaths plus an excess of pneumonia fatalities compared to the average for the previous ten years. On a single day in November 1918 there were 50 burials before noon in Glasnevin. [See ‘Stacking the Coffins’ by Ida Milne (Manchester University Press, 2018).] Over half a million Americans died while prominent victims included Sir Mark Sykes, Donald Trump’s grandfather and Olympic athlete Martin Sheridan (hugely fit, the greatest athlete this country has ever known, according to the New York Times), while David Lloyd George and FD Roosevelt both had narrow escapes. The Spanish Flu would become a much discussed topic when Covid 19 appeared in 2020.

October 19: The Nationalist and Leinster Times wrote ‘Carlow is suffering severely from the influenza epidemic, which appears to be almost world-wide. Things are serious in Carlow. Over sixty asylum patients have been stricken, and eighteen of the attendants, two of whom have died. All the hospitals are filled and an assistant has been appointed to help the Carlow Dispensary Medical Officer, Dr. L. Doyle. Last week a thousand died in Ireland. Most of the country schools are now closed. In some places the entire postal staffs have collapsed. Throughout Ireland generally, the fearful scourge commonly known as the “Spanish Flu” is taking a toll of the population.’

I have been told about – but not yet seen – the beautifully presented roll books from Rathvilly school, dated July 1918 and Oct-Nov 1918. It shows how badly the community was hit by the Spanish Flu influenza. At least three people died in Tobinstown – Bill Burgess’s brother, Atty Dowling’s mother and one of Betty Scott’s cousins. Children were protected from this information. Nellie O’Toole, who grew up in Rathvilly, recalled how all thirteen houses on Phelan Street were hit. ‘My mother said it was so bad my brother Jimmy was beating his head against the wall with it.’ The only redemption came from ‘the big house up above’ at Lisnavagh. ‘At midday every day the Rathdonnells sent down a big phaeton [an old-fashioned pony and trap] with two men driving and two big churns of soup. Everyone would be out with their tubes and their cans and that. Boiling hot soup! Only for that, we were all gone.’

A letter from the Board of Guardians of the Baltinglass Union, dated 25 November 1918, thanked Lady Rathdonnell ‘for the kindly and considerable help which she has given to the people of Rathvilly and the neighbourhood during the present, serious epidemic’. Such good deeds would stand the family in good stead when the War of Independence broke out two months later.

October: ‘News has reached Carlow of the death in Palestine of Private Thomas Sunderland, Royal Irish Rifles. He was from Castle Hill in Carlow. He was killed in action on September 21st during the advance on Palestine.’

Oct 28: Kingsley Doyle (1892-1918), the Eton-educated son of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, dies in London from pneumonia during the pan-European influenza. Sir Arthur later attended a seance in London where the medium Evan Powell said he had met Kingsley and kissed his brow, after which Sir Arthur never mourned his son again.

November 9: Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicates and flees to Holland. Power in Germany passes to a left wing government led by Social Democratic Party, Friedrich Ebert.

November 10: Paul von Hindenburg telegraphs Matthias Erzberger that the armistice should be signed, with or without modifications, as featured in the 2022 film, ‘All Quiet on the Western Front.’

November 11: End of the Great War in Western Europe. At least 36,000 Irish had died. The monarchies had been toppled in Russia, Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and elsewhere. The tide was turning in favour of ‘small nations’ but, for Irish republicans, the fight was not yet won.

November 21: Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 entitles women to be elected to House of Commons

December 14-28: Sinn Fein sweeps to victory in General Election, winning 73 of the 105 Irish seats in the British Parliament. De Valera and many other Sinn Fein candidates were in prison, “under lock and key of the foreigner” in Lincoln, as he put it (in Irish), but this did not prevent them from hearing the victorious results… Most of those who voted for Sinn Fein were former voters for the IPP (Home Rule) so Sinn Fein was not entirely new; its mantras carried the weight of many decades of well thought out IPP policy. With that election, the Irish people ratified the ambitions and goals of the 1916 rising. What had hitherto been considered an insurrection was now clearly a movement of massive proportions. Moreover, it had moved from the purely military sphere into the democratic political sphere although another two wars would be fought yet … Sinn Fein decided to establish an Irish Parliament known as Dáil Éireann. The Ulster Unionists also emerge as big winners, winning 23 of the 38 seats in Ulster (with Sinn Féin gaining ten and the Irish Parliamentary Party five) so the divides that were so apparent in Irish politics in 1912, the time of the last election, have merely deepened …

December 30: The first meeting of the Comrades of the Great War Society, called by Lieut-Colonel Browne-Clayton, is held in the Deighton Memorial Hall, Burrin Street, Carlow. Many of the 67 attendees are ex-soldiers of the British Army, wearing the Discharge Silver Badge, while there are a number of men wearing Khaki, home on leave or invalided out. There were also a number of civilians present who had relatives in service. The meeting was addressed by Sapper B. W. Bagenal, 10th Field Company, Australian Engineers. It was decided to establish a “Post” in Carlow town. (Posts had already been established in Rathvilly, Tullow and Bagenalstown). Sapper Bagenal stated:

“… that it was imperative that rooms or a building should be procured in order to establish a meeting and recreation place for members. Other desirable arrangements in the interests of members would include a Library and Reading Room with a plentiful supply of quality newspapers, a Licence to sell Beer would be sought and a canteen established where members who have stood “shoulder to shoulder” in the Great War on the Sea, Land and in the Air, would be able to spend leisure time among old comrades and friends”. [21]



Lord and Lady Carew sell much of the furniture at Castleboro and move to England; some rooms remain furnished for short visits.

January 6: Teddy Roosevelt, the former president, dies in his sleep at the age of sixty.

January 18: Paris Peace Conference begins. The five Allied Powers (France, Britain, Italy, Japan and USA) meet to agree the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey).

January 21: Dan Breen and eight others shoot two policemen at Soloheadberg and Irish War of Independence begins. They ambushed a party of armed Royal Irish Constabulary who were escorting a cart load of gelignite (used for quarrying) at Soloheadbeg, an event which is regarded as the commencement of the Irish “War of Independence” (Anglo-Irish War).

January 21: Dáil Éireann hold its first meeting, which lasts two hours, in the Mansion House, Dublin. Henceforth, the Irish Volunteers is to be known as the Irish Republican Army. As the Sinn Fein President Eamon de Valera was interred in a British prison, Cathal Brugha presided. Addressing the Dáil he stated, “Deputies you understand from what we are about to declare that we are now done with England.” This was considered by many as a declaration of war against England, although “War” was not officially declared by the Dáil until March 1921.[22]

Feb 4: Harry Boland and Michael Collins engineer de Valera’s escape from Lincoln Jail in England. He is dressed as a woman.

February 7: In the King’s Bench Division on Tuesday before Mr Justice Madden and Mr Justice Kenny, in the case of the King vs Michael Walshe of Sinn Fein from Tullow, Carlow, who was ordered six months imprisonment by a court martial for being in possession of certain explosives at Tullow, application was made for a conditional order to bring up, for the purpose of being quashed, the proceedings before the court martial.’ [23]

February 7: Letter to the Editor of the Carlow Sentinel.

Moyle, Carlow. February 4th 1919.
Sir —Having read with much interest letters from Mr. Bell, Mr. Burke, and Colonel Moore, perhaps you can spare me space, as one of the oldest active Masters of Hounds in Ireland, to have my say, and, perhaps, throw some light on matters which are imperfectly understood.
This month of February is the most important one in the whole year to a Master of Hounds, because in it he contracts either to carry on the sport for another year or give over his country to other hands on May 1st.
He also either contracts to keep on his servants for the following season or engages new ones for a like period.
About now also he is looking out to replenish his stud, and also breeding his hounds. Masters of Hounds, I may safely say, are a non-political body of men. Personally I have never taken any interest in politics, and during the fourteen years I have hunted the Carlow Hounds I have been most careful never to attend any meeting, subscribe to any organisation, or sign any document that in the remotest way could be connected with politics, and I am sure the same applies to other Masters in Ireland.
Therefore I say that the Sinn Fein Executive cannot have any quarrel with us.
We spend a great deal of money on the sport we manage. The most moderate two day a week country cannot be worked in present times under an annual cost of £1,500, while many four day a week countries cost more then double that amount.
The sum spent and the employment given, directly and indirectly, on the sport are vast, especially if you take into consideration the number of people who live in Ireland and spend their money, and who would not otherwise do so, were it not for the sport they enjoy.
Take the Dublin Horse Show alone—the amount of money it brings into Dublin is very great. Again, the trade in hunters is one of Ireland’s most successful industries, to say nothing of local shows, point-to-point races, and a hundred and one other functions more or less connected with the chase.
Fox-hunting can only exist on two broad principles, the first of which is that you must have good-will and welcome of the owners and occupiers of land over which you hunt. The second is that it must be open to all, both rich and poor alike , to enjoy, and must be absolutely non-political.
Nationalist, Unionist, and Sinn Feiners are all equally welcome at the covert side, and are expected for the time being to leave their politics at home.
Now, sir, I come to the point of this letter, which is that we Masters of Hounds should be told now, at this important time of the year, once and for all, if we are to be allowed to hunt or not. The Sinn Fein Executive have no quarrel with us. Let them play the game, and say at once what they mean to do , if they wish to abolish fox-hunting in Ireland and are backed up in that desire by the majority of their supporters, there is no doubt that it cannot go on.
In that case let them declare themselves, and let us make our arrangements accordingly. There are at present a number of English hunting countries vacant, and some of us , at any rate, would be anxious to take over one of them, if we are liable to be stopped in this country, at a moment’s notice should any political difficulty arise over which we have not the smallest control.
No man in his senses would contract to hunt a country for another year on such terms.
Let the Sinn Fein Executive take immediate steps to find out if the majority of their supporters wish fox-hunting abolished in Ireland or not.
If they do, I feel sure that Masters of Hounds will bow to that decision, and no further attempt will be made to carry it on.
If, on the other hand, the majority are in favour of the sport and industry of fox-hunting still continuing, let them also bow to that decision, and cease to mix up politics with the chase. You might as well try to mix oil and water as politics and fox-hunting—-Yours, etc,
W. E. Grogan,
Master of the Carlow Hounds.

March 1: (NationalistHunt Stopped in South Kildare. ‘On Thursday the Kildare Hounds met at Davidstown, Castledermot, but were called off by the Master on the arrival of a body of men belonging to the Baltinglass, Castledermot and Moone Sinn Fein Clubs, who came for the purpose of stopping the hunt. No interview took place between any member of the Hunt Club and the Sinn Feiners. The members of the hunt then proceeded to —?— , where it was discovered the fox earths had been opened during the night to prevent the hunt being held. It has been reported that the Kildare Hunt will not hunt again this season.’

March 8: SINN FEIN AND HUNTING. Today’s “Irish Times” says :— “The first real account of Sinn Fein policy is announced today. Doubtless, it will give much satisfaction to the half-million Irishmen and Irishwomen who supported Mr de Valera’s party at the General Elections. The Stewards of the Irish National Hunt Club have decided to cancel for the present year, the famous race-meeting at Punchestown and the promoters of the Ward Union have cancelled the Easter Monthly meeting at Fairyhouse. These decisions have not been taken in any spirit of spite or revenge, but only out of sheer necessity. Hitherto , with hardly an exception, Irishmen of all parties have agreed to keep politics out of Sport. In the worst crisis of our national history extreme Nationalists and crusted Tory have ridden neck-to-neck in the hunting field. Each was for the other a good fellow and a loyal sportsman, although on the next day the Tory might be dining with the Lord Lieutenant and the Nationalist might be going to jail.” [24]

At a meeting held in the Deighton Hall Burrin-street, Colonel Browne-Clayton presided. On the proposition of Mr J. Connolly, seconded by Mr P. Begley, Colonel Browne-Clayton was unanimously selected as a candidate to represent the Comrades at the coming elections. Mr McCarthy, Clerk of the Crown and Peace, delivered a very instructive address regarding the voting under proportional representation, and conducted a model election to enlighten those present. Great credit is due to the “Comrades” whose efforts extinguished the would-be disastrous fire in the Labour Exchange on Tuesday night.’ [25]
Women’s National Health Association.
Meetings were held in the Town Hall in February and March. Present—Miss Alexander, in the chair; Mrs Paul Brown, Mrs Kane Smith, Mrs J. Mc Donnell, Nurse Mrs Valentine, and Miss Gough. Bills were paid for one pound, two shillings and three pence for two months for clothing and nourishment for the sick poor.

March 15: At Monday’s Carlow Petty Sessions before Mr. J.C. Ryan, Resident Magistrate and Sir Deny’s-Burton, a licence was granted to the recently formed “Comrades of the Great War” Club in Carlow. The club, which has a large membership is now in full working order in their well-equipped rooms, in Burrin Street.[26]

March 20: “One of the most daring early raids for arms during the War of Independence period happened at Collinstown Aerodrome in Dublin, now the location of Dublin Airport. As Charles Townshend has noted, “the haul of seventy-five rifles (with seventy-two bayonets) and 4,000 rounds of ammunition was simply enormous in relation to the stocks held by Volunteer units, and would never be exceeded in the whole course of the struggle.” The raid involved poisoning guard dogs, arranging getaway cars and more besides.” [27]

MarchMichael Farrell, a medical student from Carlow, was charged with possessing anti-conscription documents. He was tried by Court Martial under the terms of the Defence of the Realm Acts (DORA) which empowered the military to hold trials by court martial in the event of a “special Military emergency” such as the issuing of seditious literature; the 1916 leaders were executed under DORA. His family ran a Hardware shop in Tullow Street (present-day Dempsey’s Hardware). His autobiographical novel “Thy Tears Might Cease“, unpublished during his lifetime, was edited and published, following his death, by his friend and neighbour, Monk Gibbon. In 1983 Carlow Heritage Society erected a Plaque in memory of Michael Farrell, unveiled by Monk Gibbon. Monk advised M. Purcell that he had “edited out” 100,000 words from the novel to make it readable. [28]

April 11: Letter addressed to Lord Rathdonnell, Lisnavagh. Brigadier-General Robert Browne-Clayton,

Browne’s Hill. Mr. W. E. Grogan, Moyle House.:—-
Carlow, April 11th 1919.
Owing to the treatment of political prisoners in Belfast and other jails, we the undersigned, will not permit the Carlow Hunt Races to be run over the land unless the accompanying resolution be signed by the Carlow Hunt Race
Committee. — Signed by, Peter Doyle, Clonmelsh. Richard Doyle, Clonmelsh. Laurence Connell.

Letter addressed to, H. Herring Cooper, Esq. :—–
Graiguecullen Sinn Fein Club, 11th April 1919.
At a meeting of the above Club held today, I was directed to get into communication with the owners of the lands of Milford, over which the Hunt Races are to be run on Easter Monday, with a view to preventing same unless a resolution as attached was adopted by your Hunt Races Committee, and copies of same sent to the Press and Mr. Ian McPearson. —
Yours truly, P. Whitney, P. Gaffney, Hon. Secs.
RESOLVED —That we the members of the Hunt Races Committee, strongly protest against the callous and harsh treatment meted out to our fellow-countrymen in Belfast and other Irish and British Prisons, and also condemn the breach of faith of the Castle Authorities in their compact with Most Rev. Dr. McRory, L.O’ Neill, Lord Mayor of Dublin; and Austin Stack, T.D.E.
Signed :

April 12: Despite the fact that Fox- Hunting and Race Meetings were abandoned all over Ireland, the organisers having yielded to pressure from Sinn Fein, the Carlow Hunt Club advertised a Race Meeting for 31 April 1919, which was to be the first of many encounters during the War of Independence between the Gentry of the county and Sinn Fein. But there is no 31 April!!? [29] In any event, the following ran in the Carlow Sentinel on 12 April 1919:

MONDAY APRIL 31st 1919.
STEWARDS. W.H. Grogan, Master Fox Hounds, Lord Rathdonnell, Michael Governey, Henry Bruen, Capt. W.F. Forbes, Resident Magistrate, R.F. Bagenal, Colonel H. Eustace-Duckett, Major Alexander, J. Fenton, Denis R. Pack-Beresford, H. Alexander, R.L. Pike, R.W. Hall-Dare, Col. R. Browne-Clayton, D.S.O., General B. Lewis, D.S.O., C.B.
Judge — General R. Lewis D.S.O., C.B. ; Starter — Richard Fenton.
Clerk of the Scales and Course — H. Herring-Cooper.
Hon. Sec.– H. Herring-Cooper.
Riders to wear hunting costume.

April 13: The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, also known as the Amritsar massacre, took place when troops of the British Indian Army under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer fired rifles into a crowd of Punjabis, who had gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, Punjab. The casualty number estimated by the Indian National Congress was more than 1,500 injured, with approximately 1,000 dead. Michael O’Dwyer, the Tipperary-born Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab, was unrepentant about the event. He was assassinated on 13 March 1940 by Udham Singh, possibly a survivor of Amritsar, the jury’s out – who was himself hanged on 31 July 1940.

April 19:  ‘CARLOW HUNT RACES ABANDONED. The Committee of the Carlow Hunt Sportsman’s Races have been forced to abandon the fixture for Easter Monday [20 April]. The popularity of this sporting event has not lessened, but unfortunately the efforts of a section of the community to force politics into the hunting field have been sufficiently successful to compel the Stewards of the Hunt Club to cancel many fixtures, including amongst others such favourites meets as those of Punchestown and Fairyhouse, patronised by sporting men all the country over, while for the same reason, minor events have had to follow suit. All the preliminaries for the Carlow races, which were looked forward to by the Easter holiday makers, were completed when the obstructionists intervened, making it a condition that the Stewards should sign a petition in connection with the treatment of political prisoners. This condition, needless to say could not under the rules of the National Hunt Club be complied with, and consequently they had no alternative but that of abandoning the races — a decision which will necessarily prove a great disappointment to the community at large.’ [30]

April 25 (Friday): Lisnavagh is plunged into a sorry saga when John Bramble (aka  Bremble), a man who “held a responsible position as herd in the employment of Lord Rathdonnell of Lisnavagh, aged about 66″ attempted to murder his wife’s niece Isabella Cole at Ballyoliver. In a 2003 interview, Bill Burgess remembered the days when ‘Old Johnny’ Bramble was the herd who rode on a white cob that had previously belonged to Lady Rathdonnell. He lived in Paddy Morrissey’s house at Ballyoliver, home to Jacqui Doyle in more recent times. Ballyoliver was part of the Whitty estate but it was all rented at that time. In 1901, 47-year-old, Carlow-born John Bremble was recorded as the herdsman at Lisnavagh, living with his Galway-born wife Margaret Jane (who was ten years his senior and worked as a housekeeper, perhaps at Lisnavagh) and their 24-year-old, Carlow-born niece Susan Mary Cole, who worked as a seamstress. All three were Church of Ireland. John was a widower by 1911 and had no children. He could read but not write. Susan Mary was still living with him, now 35, and was presumably Isabella’s sister. According to The Nationalist report, Bramble had been ‘acting in a very irritable disposition and for some time past his manner was peculiar.[31] His wife’s niece was Isabella Cole, the 30-year-old daughter of Thomas (b. c. 1847) and Mary Anne (b. c. 1849) Cole, a Church of Ireland farming couple from Powerstown, Nurney, Co. Carlow. [32] Miss Cole worked as Lord Rathdonnell’s accountant.

On the morning of the assault, she had arisen at about 5am, dressed herself and was passing by Bramble’s bedroom door when he attacked her. He ‘picked up an Iron Tongs and dealt her several blows on the head …he accompanied each blow with the exclamation “Are you dead yet?” … he then procured a razor and attempted to cut her throat, inflicting a severe wound on the side of her neck’.

A neighbour, Edward James [b. 1865, son of William James of Ballyoliver] found Miss. Cole at 10am. Sergeant Finnegan, Constable Farrelly, Dr Donohoe and Dr Humphreys were on the scene by 10.30am. Mr. Bramble was remanded to Kilkenny Jail for 8 days. It was noted that his brother “suffered from insanity“. He appeared before Mr. Justice Kenny at the Carlow Assizes on Saturday 26 July 1919. In his opening address to the Grand Jury, Justice Kenny explained that Bramble’s was the only case to go before them as ‘the general condition of the county was peaceable and orderly’. [33] (The Irish Republican Courts were hearing most of the court actions at this time). Bramble was charged with the attempted murder of his niece. He was ‘found insane and ordered to be detained during the pleasure of the Lord Lieutenant’. It is believed he went to the Mental Hospital in Carlow.

April 30: The Carlow and Wicklow gentry assemble in ‘brilliant sunshine’ at St Mary’s, Baltinglass, for the wedding of Lisnavagh’s general manager Leonard Hutcheson Poe (1888-1929) and (Kathleen) Gladys Grogan, younger daughter of the Carlow Hunt master William Grogan of Moyle House, Carlow, and, later (?), of Slaney Park, Co Wicklow.  Lord Rathdonnell presents the couple with a cheque. [Carlow Sentinel, 10 May 1919, p. 3.] One presumes the wedding talk focused on the arrest of John Bramble and the cancellation of the Carlow races. Leonard died in 1929, shortly before the 2nd Baron. Gladys had an address at Pipers Lane in Bunclody in 1959.

Leonard was a grandson of the Tipperary solicitor William Thomas Poe. Leonard’s father was Captain George Leslie Poe (1846-1934), JP, DL, Royal Navy, of Santry Court, Dublin, and Glen Ban, Abbeyleix. His mother was Mary Caldecott (d. 28 Nov 1934), eldest daughter of Edward Charley of Conway House, Dunmurry, Co. Antrim. Captain G. L. Poe survived his son and died on 8 May 1934.

Leonard’s older brother Captain Charles Vernon Leslie Poe, KRRC, was born in 1880 and served in the Boer War and the Great War but was killed in action with the Expeditionary Force in March 1915. (Reported missing March 8th).

Leonard’s older sister Violet Mary Poe (1878-1940) was married in 1902 to Gerald Edward Campbell Maconchy, youngest son of George Maconchy of Rathmore, Co. Longford, and had issue.

Leonard’s youngest sister Muriel Gladys Poe was born in 1882, won the MBE in 1920 and died unmarried on 30 August 1942.

Leonard’s uncle Sir Hutcheson Poe-Domville lived at Heywood Gardens and entertained Empress Sisi of the Austro-Hungarian Empire when she visited. It is worth looking at the profiles of both Sir Hutchison Poe and his brother Admiral Sir Edmund Salmon Poe (1849 – 1921) again, as they were considerable achievers in the military, naval and art worlds of late Victorian and early Edwardian era. Sir Edmond was, amongst other things, CIC of the Mediterranean Fleet 1910-1912. They are also kinsmen of Rita Craigie (née Kinahan) and her children Arthur, Jenny and Angus.

Bill Burgess of Tobinstown, who died aged 105 in 2007, hunted a grey horse for Tom Rathdonnell in Mr Grogan’s time as master. Bill recalled the order of the agents at Lisnavagh as Mr Bruen, then Leonard Poe, then Mr Binnions (maybe this man) who didn’t stay long, then Mr Giff who lived in the Laundry and was Hand Steward, but it was Mr. White of Dunlavin who bought all the cattle … Bill also told me some of the local boys raided Lisnavagh during the troubled times but I have no further details.

April 30: Tom Rathdonnell’s grandson Jack Colvin steps down as ADC to Sir Hebert Plummer.

April 31: Proposed date for Carlow Hunt Races at Ballybar, which were abandoned on April 19.

May 8: The Comrades of the Great War Club hold their first General Meeting held in Deighton Hall, Burrin Street, Carlow, chaired by the Rev Ridgeway. The meeting was addressed by the President of the Comrades Club, Lieut-Colonel Robert Browne-Clayton, D.S.O. He stated that since the last meeting in January, 249 ex-servicemen had enrolled in the club, with ‘membership coming along in leaps and bounds … the cry is “still they come, still they come” and all are welcome.’

May 10: Death of Lieutenant Michael Alphonsus Foley, while serving with the Leinster Regiment in Egypt, at the age of 22. He was a son of Mr. Michael Foley, J.P., of Leighlin House, and a nephew of both the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, and Rev. Dr. Foley, President of Carlow College. [34]

May 12: Seán Hogan, one of the ‘Big Four’ members of the Irish Republican Army in County Tipperary, is captured by the Royal Irish Constabulary and arrested for his role in the Soloheadbeg Ambush that triggered the War of Independence in Ireland. The following day, he was put on a train to Cork City where he was to be incarcerated in Cork Gaol. His fellow members of the IRA staged a successful rescue operation of him as the train arrived into Knocklong Station in County Limerick, during which two RIC men were killed. Hogan survived to return to a farmer’s life after the Civil War, dying aged sixty-seven on Christmas Eve 1968.

May 24: Letter from Tom Rathdonnell published in the Carlow Sentinel, seeking to raise money for those wounded in the Great War.

To the Editor Carlow Sentinel. Lisnavagh, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, May, 1919.
Dear Sir—
I have received, as His Majesty’s Lieutenant of the County, an urgent appeal from the Minister of Pensions, Chairman of the Trustees of the King’s Fund for the re-establishing of disabled officers and men in civil life.
Having regard to the strong claims which the disabled have on the support of every one of us, I have decided to open a County Subscription.
The amount asked for is £3,000,000, and His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to head the list of subscribers with the magnificent sum of £78,000.
The fund will in no way interfere with State Grants, but will touch those cases which cannot be dealt with by any hard and fast rule which of necessity must be laid down when dealing with public money.
No particular part of the Fund is being allocated to a particular County or District. Every disabled man, in whatever part of the Kingdom he resides, has a right to a grant from the Fund on proving his case.
I would specially ask that intended subscriptions be sent to me, and not direct to the Fund, as I understand that there will be considerable rivalry among the Counties, and we shall naturally desire to stand high in the list of county subscriptions.
The Committee of the County Red Cross Branch has agreed to allocate the sum of £180 out of their surplus funds to the above object, and I propose myself to contribute £25.
I hope all subscriptions may be sent to me before the 15th of June. —-
Yours faithfully, RATHDONNELL, H.M.L., Co. Carlow.
P.S.—Already a considerable sum from the King’s Fund has been expended in this County through the War Pensions Committee.

June 15 (Sunday): Alcock and Brown crash-land their Vimy biplane in Connemara.

June: The RDS’s Agricultural Show concludes with final prizes, including T. Halligan of Lisnavagh who won the Farrier’s Silver Medal for shoeing light horses.

June 21: £501, twelve shillings and eleven pence is collected for the British Red Cross in the Rathvilly / Hacketstown area during May and June 1919. The President and main fund-raiser was Kate Rathdonnell of Lisnavagh. [Note added 2010 by M. Purcell. About this time a new directive was issued from Sinn Fein in Carlow requesting that fund raising activities for veterans of the Great War were not to be approved or supported. It was further requested that dances or events organised by the “Comrades of the Great War” were not to be approved or supported.] The following collections were recorded in the Carlow Sentinel.

Part proceeds Rathvilly R.C. Church Collection per Rev. J. O’ Callaghan —– £2.8 shillings.
Hacketstown Church Collection per Rev. C.S. Ellison——————– £1.17 shillings.
Part proceeds Fete at Lisnavagh————————————£50 ———
Part proceeds Concert at D’Israeli School per Mrs Anderson————–£11.6 shillings.
L. H. Poe ———————————————————£1.1 shilling.
Miss Green, ——————————————————-12 shillings.
Rev. Ellison and Mrs. Ellison…………………………………………………………………..5 shillings.
Mrs. Earl……………………………………………………………………………..2 shillings & six pence.
Under 2/6 (two shillings and six pence) Mrs. Taylor, Parkin Recipe.
Part proceeds of Fete at Lisnavagh Autograph Quilt————————£18–one shilling.
Hacketstown Church, per Rev. Ellison————————————-£3 -eleven shillings.
Hacketstown School, per Rev. Ellison————————————–£1-three shillings.
Li ——————————————————————£7–twelve shillings.
Lord Rathdonnell, £50.
Lady Rathdonnell, £10.
H. Poe £5.
Hon. T.L. McClintock-Bunbury £1.

Very Rev. J. Delaney, P.P., V.F. Etc.
Leinster Regiment, £56.
Royal Dublin Fusiliers, £72.
South Irish Horse, £25.
Nation’s tribute to Nurses, £10.
Belgian Relief Fund, £5.
Instructional Workshops, Military Orthopaedic Hospital, Blackrock, £36.
National Egg Collection, 2,712 Eggs.
Men’s Work, Lisnavagh — 18 Bed-rests, 6 Bed Tables, 20 Crutches.
K.A, RATHDONNELL, President County Carlow Branch.

[An “autograph quilt” at Lisnavagh includes the names of Ethel McClintock-Bunbury, Emily McClintock and many Burgess, Woods and other familiars. It is made when the patches are sewn as unique intricately pieced or appliquéd ‘blocks’ (ie: small squares) enabling a different person to sign each block (or perhaps place a short piece of poetry). The blocks/patches are then assembled into a quilt top. The concept first became popular when indelible ink became available after 1840. It was popular with the Red Cross at the time of the Great War; their blocks were red ‘crosses’ on white background. They ‘sold’ the opportunity to sign the block to persons from the area, perhaps at a church fair, garden fete or another public events. The quilt was then assembled and perhaps auctioned or raffled off to some lucky person. [35]

June 25 (Wednesday): The Court Circular of The Times informs its readers that “Lord and Lady Rathdonnell have arrived in London from Lisnavagh, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow”.  The previous October, the nighttime mail service from Kingstown to Holyhead had been replaced by a daylight service.

July 13: 28-year-old Patrick O’Toole writes to the Presiding Chairman, Carlow Urban Council, on behalf of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, Carlow Branch, protesting against a request to the CUC by Captain Johnson, B. Company, Norfolk Yeomanry, based in Carlow Military Barracks, to use of Carlow Town Hall in order to give a “complimentary concert ” to celebrate “Peace Day 1919”. His letter was published in the Carlow Sentinel on July 14, and claimed to be ‘representative of over fourteen hundred male adults of Carlow’. It was followed by similar letters from Sinn Fein (Michael Behan) and Cumann na mBan (Ann Murphy) asking the CUS be to ‘mindful of the fact that Irishmen have been and are being, arrested and imprisoned by this same army of occupation, and that James Lennon, T.D. for the County of Carlow, is at present in solitary confinement in Belfast jail. And further mindful of the fact that in the words of the Irish Hierarchy, “we have the evils of military rule exhibited at our doors. In this ancient civilising nation the people are not permitted to rule themselves through men of their own choice. The work is done for them by some stranger without any knowledge of the country “.
The CUC ultimately agreed and turned down Captain Johnson’s request. Patrick O’Toole was arrested by the British a few months later and interned in Ballykinlar Camp where he died in 1920. The action by the British Military at his funeral was a turning point for many Carlow people, following which it was said “every man, woman and child in the whole of Carlow” supported Sinn Fein – MP.

July 19: Peace Day.

July 26: John Bramble, herd of Lisnavagh, appeared before Justice Kenny at the Carlow Assizes, charged with the attempted murder of his niece on April 25th. He was ‘found insane and ordered to be detained during the pleasure of the Lord Lieutenant’.

August 11: (The Nationalist). Letter to the Editor.

Dear Sir—-
We have all heard of the proposed Irish War Memorial to be erected at a Soldiers’ Club in Dublin in memory of those brave Irishmen who fought and fell in the recent war : in this club there is to be kept a complete roll of honour of all these giving the name and regiment of each man. I am anxious to obtain from the Queen’s County at least £1.000 for this excellent object. The population of our county taken at the last census amounted to 54,000. If 20,000 of these gave one shilling each , we would have our £1,000. If more were given, of course a larger sum would be obtained. I should be glad to have the names of any friends who would be willing to collect in their own districts and to send me the total amounts.
I am Dear Sir, Yours Faihfully,
Algernon Coote, His Majesty’s Lieutenant in the Queen’s County. [36]

Algernon Coote later resigned his position as “His Majesty’s Lieutenant of Queen’s County” in protest at the “unconstitutional manner of government being administered in Ireland by the British Parliament”.

August 23 (Saturday): A Garden Party is held at Lisnavagh, “by invitation of Lord Rathdonnell, HML, and Lady Rathdonnell, president of the [Carlow] County Red Cross. Those invited included the vice-presidents of the Red Cross districts, war workers of all classes, and the county magistrates. There were many other guests. A message of thanks from the King to all the soldiers, sailors, airmen and war workers from the county was read by Lord Rathdonnell, and hearty cheers was given for his Majesty. The proceedings closed with the playing of the National Anthem“.

September 12: Lloyd George declares Dáil illegal. British government sends over a police reserve made up of British ex-service men to support the R.I.C. – they became known as “Auxiliaries“.

September 16: ‘His Majesty’s Lieutenants of Counties have received the following, copies of which, for County Carlow, have been circulated by Right Hon. Lord Rathdonnell, H.M.L. :———

I desire you to express my admiration of the courage and endurance displayed by the Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen of your County during the past five years of war.
I am grateful to all the brave men and women of the County of Carlow for their devoted and patriotic service.
I once more express my sympathy and that of the Queen with the relatives of the gallant men who have given their lives in their Country’s cause, and our earnest hope that the sick and wounded may be restored to health.
I rejoice with you to-day at the restoration of Peace, which I trust will bring to us all unity, contentment and prosperity.
George R.I.
Buckingham Palace.’ [37]

Michael Purcell suggests that such as association was ‘a brave if foolhardy gesture from Rathdonnell, as by this time Sinn Fein / Irish Republican Army volunteers were burning R.I.C. barracks, stopping Hunt and Race Meetings and targeting “Comrades of the Great War Clubs” across the country, and of course shooting any Crown Forces, spies or known sympathisers who strayed into their sights.’

Oct 7: A cabinet committee is appointed to consider Irish self-government. Partition is by now inevitable, much to the chagrin of Brexit negotiators a century later

October 31: The R.I.C barracks in Ballivor, Co. Meath, is attacked by two IRA Active Service Units, numbering about fourteen Volunteers, from Trim and Longwood, leading to the killing of the barrack orderly Constable William Agar, aged 35. He was the son of William Agar and his wife Mary Harper who lived at Chapelstown, outside Carlow, at the time of the 1901 and 1911 census. [38] He received compensation for the loss of a farm in Coonakisha by his father Thomas Agar. He then bought a farm in Rathvilly where he died in 1922, which explains why the unfortunate policeman was buried at St. Mary’s, Rathvilly. In the 1901 Census, the future Constable William Agar is listed, with the wrong age, as a drapers assistant living in Carlow (but not with his parents). He appears to have been a new recruit to the RIC when posted to Galway in 1908. [39] By the time of the 1911 Census, he was stationed in RIC barracks in Galway. His future wife Florence Noblett lived with her parents Joseph (gardener) and Mary Jane; they were originally from Wicklow (1901 census). Constable William Agar’s brother was also in the RIC and lived in Chapelstown where the family still live today. [40]

The aim of the Ballivor operation was to take over the barracks and steal arms and ammunition from the barrack armoury. An old man, named William McKeown, said that at about 10 o’clock on the Friday night, he was going to the village pump to get water, when two men, who were standing near the police barracks, cried out, “Go back; if you come on you will be shot !” He ran back, and heard the fatal shot soon afterwards. Meanwhile, three Volunteers approached the barracks and knocked on the front door, they then gave a password used by those in good terms with the police. They also gave the name of a local farmer saying they were there to report the theft of cattle from their farm which was common in the area as cattle were being robbed on a regular basis. Constable Agar opened the door but, realising what was happening tried to close it again. In the struggle that ensued a firearm was discharged and Agar received a gunshot wound to the heart and subsequently died of his injuries. The three Volunteers entered the barracks through the front door and the remaining Volunteers entered at the back of the station. They gathered together a revolver, five rifles, holsters for revolvers and a large amount of ammunition. They also locked two other Constables who were in the barracks at the time of the raid in the armoury room before withdrawing safely from the area. Six men were arrested the next morning in Trim for questioning about the death of Constable Agar but were released without charge.

The Carlow Nationalist comprehensively covered the murder on 8 November 1919:

Carlow Policeman Killed.
On Friday of last week the R.I.C. Barracks in Ballivar, County Meath, was attacked by a number of masked men and a quantity of arms taken. The police defended, but the raid was short, sharp and decisive. The Sergeant was wounded, and one of the police, 
Constable W. Agar, was shot dead. Constable Agar belongs to a family well-known in Carlow. His father was evicted from a farm at Coolnakisha near the Kilkenny-Carlow border during the land war, and the family came to live in the town of Carlow. The dead constable was for a long time in the employment of Mr. E. Boake, Tullow Street, and was very popular. He joined the R.I.C. about 12 years ago. When the evicted tenants were being restored Mr. Agar, the deceased’s father was given a farm near Rathvilly. Since then he has purchased a larger holding.
On Monday the remains were conveyed by R.I.C. motor hearse to Rathvilly, and were met by a large number of County Carlow constabulary and contingents from the neighbouring districts of Wicklow and Kildare. The interment took place on Tuesday and the funeral was large. Amongst the chief mourners were the dead constable’s three brothers. Mr. Townsend, District Inspector and Mr. J.C. Ryan, Resident Magistrate were also in attendance. Rev. Mr. O’Callaghan officiated at the graveside
. [41]

Richard Abbott’s “Police Casualties in Ireland” lists 493 RIC officers killed between the start of the Troubles in 1919 and disbandment in 1922. Perhaps another 100 died as a result of accidents or non-political killings in that period. [42]

He left a widow Florence and a seven-year-old daughter Violet. On 1st March 1920, At Trim, Justice Pim awarded £1400 to Florence and £1000 to Violet. On 9 April 1923, Florence married James Brookes, club steward, of 166 Ainswoth Avenue, Springfield Road, Belfast, with whom she had two more children. Violet was awarded a further £288-18-8 towards her education in 1927. [43] Constable Agar’s headstone in Rathvilly was found toppled over and fragmented in three places in the autumn of 2012. It was subsequently restored by Halligan’s Monumental Sculpture, Rathvilly.

November: De Valera is in America where he befriends Chippewa Indian Tribe at Spooner, Wisconsin. He is adopted by them as a chieftain, “Nay Nay Ong Abe”, meaning “Dressing Feather”.

November: First printing of “The Second Coming”, a poem written by Irish poet W. B. Yeats in 1919, and afterwards included in his 1921 collection of verses ‘Michael Robartes and the Dancer.’ In it he records: ‘Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.’ It’s all autocrats and became pitch perfect relevant again with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

DecemberBlack and Tans formed when British ex-soldiers and sailors are recruited as a support force for the Royal Irish Constabulary. Their wage was 10 shillings per day and cigarettes.

December 19: Sir John French, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, narrowly avoids being assassinated by a group of IRA members on bicycles near Ashtown Cross. 22-year-old Martin Savage of Sligo, an Officer in the Dublin Brigade of the IRA, is killed in the gun battle that ensued




Jan 15: Lord Rathdonnell attends the wedding in Drummaul Church, Randalstown, County Antrim, of his cousin Captain Jack McClintock, C.B., D.S.O., R.N., and the Hon. Rose O’Neill, second daughter of Lord and Lady O’Neill. Captain McClintock was a son of the late Admiral Sir Leopold McClintock, K.C.B., the Arctic explorer, and had himself ‘won honours for his conspicuous bravery and gallant deeds in the recent terrible conflict.’ Archbishop D’Arcy (a former resident of Bishopscourt) heads up the officiating clergymen while Captain Harry McClintock, the bridegroom’s brother, was best man. The Hon. Mrs McClintock Bunbury – aka Ethel – may also have attended; she gave the newlyweds a salad bowl. [44]

Jan 24: Attempted killing of Constables Malynn and M’Partland in Baltinglass; death of the songwriter Percy French (1854-1920).

Feb 21:  ‘British Soldier poses as Sinn Feiner. Extraordinary Occurrence in County Carlow.’

At a special court in Tullow before Mr P.J. Griffin. J.P. Private Archibold who has a decided English accent, was charged with burglariously entering the house of Mrs Mary Deering, Knockaroo, Rathvilly, with intent to commit a felony. Mary Deering stated that on Wednesday the 11th February at 12 o’ clock, midnight, she was awakened by loud knocking at the door. She did not answer the knock and shortly after she heard a noise in a room. She got up and went to the hall, and on looking into the room saw a man standing in the centre with a lighted match in his hand. She said ” In the name of God what brought you here, or who are you?” at the same time approaching him. He replied “Do you know what Sinn Fein is?” and she told him she did. He then said “Well I am a Sinn Feiner from Carlow: your house is surrounded by Sinn Feiners: we neither rob or steal, but I want £7 from you”. She told him she had no money and that she gave the last she had in the house , one shilling and six pence to a workman that evening. He then went to the kitchen, she following him. When they arrived in the kitchen he asked her to light a light, but she told him there was no means of lighting. There was a lamp on the table and when he attempted to light it he failed.
She then lit the lamp and recognised him. He said he would go through the window, as he came in, but she opened the door and let him out. Archibold told the court that he was in a Rathvilly public house that night till 12 o’ clock, and was not in Deering’s at all. He was remanded for eight days, he was conveyed to Kilkenny Jail in the evening.’

Note added 2010 by Michael Purcell: An order was issued from the local Sinn Fein officer to the Irish Volunteer Army that Private Archibold was to be sought out and shot dead on sight for attempting to besmirch the good name of Sinn Fein and a warning was issued to all agents of the enemy occupier to take heed of this warning forthwith. [45]

March 17: Death of Kate Rathdonnell’s brother-in-law, Edward Ussher Roberts of Gaultier, Woodstown, County Waterford, husband to Elizabeth Bruen. He was the only son of Arthur Ussher Roberts and presumably a cousin of Lord Roberts. In 1900, addressed at Viewmount, Longford, he was appointed High Sheriff of County Longford. He may also have lived at Ballyowen, Lucan, at some point.

March 20: Murder in Cork of Tomas Mac Curtain, Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork. He was shot dead on his 36th birthday in front of his wife and son by a group of RIC men with blackened faces, RIC DI Oswald Ross Swanzy, well-known in Carlow, is implicated, and assassinated five months later.

March 25: On Winston Churchill’s orders, the Black & Tans start arriving in Ireland, eventually numbering some 7,000. Many participants in the ensuing struggle for independence referred to the period following their arrival as “the Tan war”. Typical of the ensuing occasion was the arrival of a party of Tans at Rathmore House (once home to Col. Kane Bunbury, but then the property of the Burgess or Corrigan family) who demanded provisions and information about enemy activity. The following night, the IRA arrived at Rathmore with the same two requests.

March 26: Resident Magistrate Alan Bell, from Banagher pulled from a tram in south Dublin and shot three times in the head. Having already managed to confiscate over £71,000 of Sinn Féin funds by investigating banks across Ireland, he was on the cusp of seizing considerably more.

March 28: Death in Marseilles of 44-year-old Major Arthur Ffolliott Garrett O.B.E. R.E. from malaria. A keen astronomer and engineer, he was the youngest son of W. Raymound Garrett of Kilgarron (Janeville), near Fenagh, County Carlow. [46]

March 31: The British parliament accepts Irish ‘Home Rule’ law.

April 6: On the night of 5-6 April, approximately 150 RIC barracks across Ireland are destroyed by the IRA. By the beginning of July 1920, 351 evacuated barracks had been destroyed, with a further 105 damaged.  Of the twenty-four RIC barracks in Co. Kildare at the start of 1920, only six were active at the end of August.

April 7: The original Kellistown Races are held at Graiguenaspideog, near Ballon, with four races on the card.  The course was deemed unsuitable and relocated to Kellistown in 1921, remaining there for the next 34 years during which time the races were staged annually with four exceptions.

Close up of Rathvilly on Ordnance Survey map. Originally drawn in 1839 by Captain Tucker & Lieutenant Rimington, this map was revised in 1873.

That same evening, the R.I.C. police barrack in Rathvilly is burned. These were presumably the barracks built by Tom’s great-uncle Kane Bunbury in the 1870s, which, according to a contemporary map, was down the hill from Brennan’s Centra.

One might have expected Lisnavagh to be burned down at this time, given that Tom was a Peer of the Realm, Chairman of the Leinster Unionists, President of the Royal Dublin Society, and the older brother of a man who became a lightning rod for criticism at the height of the Land Wars four decades earlier. That it was not torched by “Maguire and Patterson” may be connected to the assistance apparently provided by the Rathdonnells during the Spanish Flu, or to “good works” performed in the locality during the Great War, or the generous bequest of Colonel Kane Bunbury to the poor of the parish when he died in 1874.

Michael Bramwell, whose father Henry spent much of his youth at Lisnavagh, tells a story of a wire stretched across the Front Avenue seemingly at (pony trap) head height, which was luckily found beforehand … Bill Burgess also mentioned a raid on Lisnavagh by local lads but I have no further details … yet!

It has been said that certain ‘Old IRA’ members were sheltered at Lisnavagh and perhaps even paid to provide protection to the house at a time when many such houses were burned down. The only name we have to date is Paddy Ryan, a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood who sometimes went by the name of ‘Paddy Murphy’. He is believed to be ‘Paddy’, one of the ‘Dear Boys’ to whom Kevin Barry addressed the last letter he wrote before his execution. The letter was sold in 2010 to an unnamed buyer and is now on long-term loan to the National Library of Ireland. Paddy was a first-year medical student with Kevin Barry in UCD and shared his republican beliefs. He once told his daughter Betty Ryan O’Gorman that he had been among “the group of students who drew straws to go on the particular mission on which Kevin Barry was caught”. An email circulating about Paddy in 2010 said he did “not speak much about his involvement in the old IRA’ but lit up on the subject of the GAA’s ban on members playing “foreign games” because he, like Barry, was a passionate rugby man. It was only after his death in 1980 that Betty discovered he had been a dispatch rider for the IRA during the War of Independence. [47]

April 26: The Times (Court Circular) notes that “Lord Rathdonnell has returned to Lisnavagh … from London“.

May: Kate Rathdonnell’s brother (Admiral) Eddo Bruen is appointed Director of Naval Equipment at the Admiralty (until 1923).

May 4: R.I.C. police barrack at St. Mullins burned.

May 8: Saunder’s Grove House, between Dunlavin and Baltinglass, is burned out. The Tynte family, who owned it, were later awarded over £26,000 compensation to be levied off the county. There were also arson attacks on Ballitore, Donard, Stratford-on-Slaney and Dunlavin.

May 15:  ‘In May 1920 Lord Rathdonnell applied for £1,000 compensation for the malicious burning of Rathvilly police barracks, his property, on the night of the 7th April 1920. The building was described by W.P. Hade C.E. (County Engineer) as a substantial building of granite, two story house with two rooms downstairs. Mr L.H. Poe said he was general manager for Lord Rathdonnell and looked after his property.
Mr. Byrne – You collect the rents for Lord Rathdonnell ?
Witness – Yes.
Byrne – You do nothing else for him?
Witness – Oh, yes I do.
Byrne- By no stretch of the imagination you could not describe yourself as a caretaker of Rathvilly police barracks?
Witness- I look after the property. I had no recourse to the barracks since they became vacated last November.
In reply to Mr Hamilton, witness stated that Lisnavagh, Lord Rathdonnel’s residence, was 2 three/quarter miles from the barracks.
Mr Hamilton submitted that a general manager was competent to make the information, as was laid down in the case of Barnwall and Adolphus. Mr Poe was not a land agent but a general manager of the property.
His Honor held that Mr Poe was qualified to make the deposition. He would award £525 with £10 costs, to be levied off the county at large.
Same court. Sergeant Finnegan applied for £1,200 compensation for furniture and chattels lost on the night of the fire. (case dismissed).
Captain Frederick Beecham Lecky looked for £1,000 for burning on the 14th of April of Ballykealy Police Barracks.’

The Bureau of Military History includes an interesting account of IRA activity in the Lisnavagh neighbourhood during the war by John Magill of Palatine, who joined the Irish Volunteer’s Rathvilly Company in 1914 and went on to become Vice Commandant of the IRA’s 3rd Battalion (Carlow Brigade) – no mention of Lisnavagh or Rathdonnell that I could see, but Rathmore Bridge was trashed and Rathvilly / Tullow also …

Between January 1919 and June 1921, the estimated death toll (as compiled by the I.R.B.) was 400 policemen (possibly including “Black and Tans” and “Auxies”), 156 British military and approx. 700 members of the I.R.A. combined with civilians.

Between the War of Independence and the Civil War, it appears that only three of the 300 ‘big houses’ burned in Ireland were in County Carlow, which is certainly way below the national county average. My thanks to Chris McQuinn and Jimmy O’Toole for detailing these three properties as:

  • St Austin’s Abbey, Tullow, was unoccupied, the Doynes having left it before the outbreak of the War of Independence. It was taken over by the National Army (Free State) in 1922. Emmet Dalton may have been involved. He was in command when Tullow was captured. [49] The army left it following a plea from Bishop Foley. It was subsequently burned by the IRA to prevent its re-occupation. [50]
  • Kellistown House, home of the Beresford sisters, now the Brophy family home, see 23 March 1922.
  • Myshall Lodge, unoccupied at the time, having been the home of the Cornwall Brady family. Burned 1922.

Ballintemple, the home of Sir Richard Butler, is sometimes said to have burned in the Troubles but it was in fact destroyed by an accidental fire in 1917. ‘In 1921 members of Sinn Fein descended on [Ballintemple], in the family’s absence, seeking to extort money. The manager of the dairy, a man called Johnson, physically resisted and was shot for his pains in the chest. He ultimately made a full recovery.’ [51]

A group of Irish Republican Army activists also planned to burn Fenagh House in 1920, perhaps propelled by memories of Pack-Beresford’s machinations against Mrs Watters in 1890-1891. [52] However, they were ordered not to proceed by a directive issued by de Valera, stating that attacks by the IRA on the “Big Houses” of the gentry were to cease. It is believed that this directive from de Valera was issued because of his close friendship with Erskine Childers, Director of Propaganda for the IRA, who had intervened with him on behalf of the gentry of Ireland.

May 19: (Wednesday) At 10 o’clock in the morning, four days [? not right, burning was on 7 April, recheck] after the burning of Rathvilly Barracks, Colonel Chaplain of the Cameroonian Regiment and a platoon of soldiers arrived in Baltinglass in “motor-waggons” and “informed the Master of the Baltinglass Workhouse that he wanted accommodation for 100 soldiers. After going through the building, he decided upon taking possession of the male wing for the healthy classes and the front, which includes the boardroom”. [53] On the same day, half a company of the Berkshire Regiment moved into the Parnell’s house at Avondale, while other detachments were by now installed in Wicklow at Arklow, Rathdrum, Wicklow, Bray and Enniskerry. The Baltinglass Court House was also burned down in May, after which all Quarter Sessions meetings were to be held in Bray which must have been a bore for many, whether legal or accused.

May 21: (Friday) Lord Rathdonnell returned to Lisnavagh from London. [54]

June: Carlow Urban Council formally changes name of Wellington Square to Governey Place.

June: Auxiliaries formed in UK, primarily demobilized officers of the British army.

June 5: Death of Kate Rathdonnell’s unmarried younger sister, Mary Susan Bruen, at her residence, 122A St Stephen’s Green, following a short illness. Born at Oak Park on 27 July 1858 and baptised in Painestown on 26 August 1858, she was the second daughter of the Rt Hon Henry Bruen. Four years earlier, her home was a base for those planning the Easter Rebellion in Dublin. In the 1911 Census, she was described as a ‘Writer for the Press’ and all signs point to the Christian Science Monitor. Many of the Anglo-Irish gentry wives became Christian Scientists at this point, often with devastating consequences. Tom and Kate Rathdonnell’s daughter Pauline refused to allow doctors near her husband who duly died. Likewise, General Browne-Clayton’s died in considerable agony from cancer, while Hubert Butler has written the sorry tale of Mrs Tighe of Woodstock, County  Kilkenny, who earned the wrath of her neighbours when she blindly allowed her small boy to die.

June 9: Lieut-Col.  Gerald Bryce Ferguson Smyth, D.S.O. and Bar, delivers his infamous speech. A Great War veteran, who had lost an arm in the war and drank heavily, he appears to have been sent to Ireland with the Black & Tans, endeavouring to rally them with the sort of speeches he had made to his British troops in the trenches of the Western Front. On 9 June he delivered a woefully misguided and astoundingly psychotic speech to the ranks of the Royal Irish Constabulary in which he apparently stated:

‘Now, men, Sinn Fein have had all the sport up to the present, and we are going to have the sport now. The police are not in sufficient strength to do anything to hold their barracks. This is not enough for as long as we remain on the defensive, so long will Sinn Fein have the whip hand. We must take the offensive and beat Sinn Fein at its own tactics…If a police barracks is burned or if the barracks already occupied is not suitable, then the best house in the locality is to be commandeered, the occupants thrown into the gutter. Let them die there—the more the merrier. Should the order “Hands Up” not be immediately obeyed, shoot and shoot with effect. If the persons approaching a patrol carry their hands in their pockets, or are in any way suspicious looking, shoot them down. You may make mistakes occasionally and innocent persons may be shot, but that cannot be helped, and you are bound to get the right parties some time. The more you shoot, the better I will like you, and I assure you no policeman will get into trouble for shooting any man’ … hunger-strikers will be allowed to die in jail, the more the merrier. Some of them have died already and a damn bad job they were not all allowed to die. As a matter of fact some of them have already been dealt with in a manner their friends will never hear about. An emigrant ship left an Irish port for a foreign port lately with lots of Sinn Feiners on board, I assure you men it will never land. That is nearly all I have to say to you. General Tudor and myself , want your assistance in carrying out this scheme and wiping out Sinn Fein. Any man who is prepared to be a hindrance rather then a help to us, had better leave the job at once.” [55]

After his speech, Sligo-born Constable Jeremiah Mee stepped forward and addressed Smyth saying, ‘By your accent I take it you are an Englishman and in your ignorance forget that you are addressing Irishmen’. He then removed his cap, belt, bayonet and gun, laid them on a table and continued, ‘these too are English, take them as a present from me and to hell with you, you are a murderer’. Smyth ordered his arrest but many of the other constables present warned that “the room would run red with blood” if Mee was touched. The affair became known as the “Listowel Mutiny”. Mee returned to Sligo and joined the IRA, working closely with Michael Collins. General Tudor was reputedly horrified by Smyth’s remarks, published in the Irish Bulletin of 9 July, and placed the incident on report. Within 24 hours of the speech, a copy was also in the hands of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, delivered to Michael Collins by one of the R.I.C. men present. On it was written: “Now Men” justice should be swift and ruthless. (signed) L——-. (illegible scribble). By 24 June, a transcript had been sent to every I.R.B. unit in the country.

Four weeks after making this speech Lieut-Col. Smyth was shot dead by the I.R.A. in Cork. When his brother, Osbert Smyth, came to Ireland to avenge his brother’s death, he too was shot dead.

June 11: Mary Susan Bruen’s death announced in The Times of London.

June:  ‘CASTLEDERMOT COURTHOUSE AND BARRACKS BURNED. At about three a.m. on Tuesday morning last the courthouse and police barracks at Castledermot, Co. Carlow , were destroyed by fire. The Courthouse was a very substantial granite building, and was the property of the Duke of Leinster, and the barracks, which formed an annexe of the courthouse, had only been vacated by the police the previous day. [56]

June: ‘LOOTING COUNTERED. The R.I.C. Barracks at Wolfhill was evacuated on Thursday last, the men being transferred to Ballylinan district. A few hours after they left, the barrack building was in flames, having been set on fire by a party of men who visited the place on bicycles. On Saturday night a Company of Irish Volunteers visited the ruins and caught a number of people looting the few surviving articles that escaped the flames, such as slates and gutters, fire-grates etc. The looters were at once placed on trial, and a court-martial was held in the yard. A fine was imposed on each one, to be paid in a specified time. A Republican flag was flying from the remaining chimney of the barrack all day on Sunday.

An Irish Volunteer patrol visits the public houses in the colliery district nightly and a decided improvement in the way of putting an end to Sunday and all night drinking has been made.’ [57]

June 20: Carlow Sentinel – DESPATCH BY AEROPLANE. ‘On Monday morning at 10.30 o’ clock an aeroplane hovered over the town of Carlow and after a short time was seen to descend near the military barracks; it did not land, however, but dropped something in the shape of a small bag in the vicinity of the barracks and then went away. It is believed that it contained dispatches to the British military stationed in the town.’ [58]

June 21: ‘Little Moyle, Carlow. New Meadows for Sale. Robert Bell, Auctionerer , Carlow, has been instructed by Kane J. Smyth, Esq., to sell by Public Auction on Monday 21st June 1920. At 12 o’clock (summer time) 8 Acres of heavy 2nd crop meadows.’ (Carlow Nationalist).

July: Auxiliaries arrive in Ireland. The “Auxies”, whose numbers peaked at 1,400, were not under military discipline and they soon gained a reputation for brutality and ruthlessness. A distinctive feature of their dress was that they wore a belt with two holsters each containing a revolver. Their wage was £1 a day.

July 15: IRA Volunteers burn the courthouse at Athy, County Kildare with petrol and paraffin.

July 17Lieut-Col Smyth executed by the IRA after his June 9 speech was printed in the Irish Bulletin. He was shot dead in the Smoking Room of the Cork and County Club. His executioner Danny Donovan walked up to Smyth and said, “your orders were to shoot on sight, you are in sight now, so make ready”. Donovan later worked for the Irish Sugar Company and was a regular visitor to Carlow.

July 17FLAGS OVER CARLOW. During the past week the Sinn Fein flag which disappeared off the top of the Courthouse, Carlow, on the morning of the Quarter Sessions was re-hoisted. At a recent meeting of the Carlow Asylum Board a resolution was passed to the effect that the Sinn Fein flag be hoisted over the building on the days of meeting and whenever the committee desired. On the occasion of the first meeting of the Carlow Guardians, a Sinn Fein flag was flying from the highest point of the workhouse.’ [59]

July 20: The IRA launch an incendiary attack on Castledermot RIC Barracks and Courthouse. The vacated R.I.C. barrack at Nurney, Kildare district, was also set on fire and completely destroyed

July 21: Richard P. McDonald of Tinypark, Carlow, Coroner for County Carlow, tenders his resignation as a magistrate to the Lord Chancellor. His letter is published in the Nationalist and Leinster Times: ‘My Lord — As a protest against the brutal, stupid, and unconstitutional manner in which England is attempting to govern this country, I hereby resign my Commission of the Peace for the counties of Carlow and Wicklow –Yours faithfully, R. P. McDonald.’ [60]

July: At the Grand Jury sessions in Carlow, Walter Kavanagh claims £4,200 for the burning of the R.I.C. police barrack at St. Mullins. ‘The judge said he had been presented with a pair of white gloves to mark that there were no criminal cases occurring in Carlow to be tried and though he received them he could not accept them as an indication of the crimeless state of Carlow county. They were not a true indication of the peace of the county, they represented successive crime which had taken place. He believed the absence of cases to be tried was owing to people or victims being in sympathy with the present condition of things prevailing, or through intimidation. The gloves which the Sheriff gave him were white but he thought they should be of a more sombre hue.’ [Note added by Michael Purcell, 2011. The “illegal” Sinn Fein Courts were sitting at this time]

AugustLieut-Col Holmes Wilson, “Officers’ Friend” Ministry of Pensions, Ireland, South Region, will be present at the Royal Arms Hotel, Carlow, from 11.30 am to 4 pm on Friday, August 13th, for the purpose of interviewing naval and military officers, ex-officers, nurses, widows, or the dependents of deceased officers, with a view to assisting them in getting their claims to pensions and gratuities settled. Applicants in the possession of papers relating to their case should produce them. The Headquarters of the Officers’ Friend Branch Ireland, are 41 Upper Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin. [61]

August 3: ‘Brook House [County Laois], the property of Col. R. O. Cosby, V.L., Stradbally Hall, was burned to the ground on Tuesday night, or early on Wednesday morning. It is situated near the town of Stradbally. It was stated that soldiers would be in occupation of the building shortly.’ [62] Colonel Cosby would take his own life a month later.

August:  ‘On Saturday night a miscreant or miscreants broke into the Methodist church in Castledermot. The only word that can be applied to such an action is blackguardism of the worst type, because it is sacrilegious. The motive – as in all such cases – is obscure. The members of the Methodist community in the district are deservedly and justly popular.’ [63]

August 9: Restoration of Order in Ireland Act effectively gives the British Army absolute power over the law in Ireland.

August 14: According to the New York Times, Lord Rathdonnell was emerging as one of the leading Southern Unionists objecting to the proposed Partition of Ireland. See here for more.

August 22: Execution in Lisburn of RIC District Inspector Oswald Ross Swanzy by the IRA. He was stationed in Carlow RIC. barracks for close to five years; several of his handwritten R.I.C. report books are in the Pat Purcell Papers. The Co. Monaghan-born Swanzy was implicated in the murder of Tomas Mac Curtain, Lord Mayor of Cork and leader of Cork No. 1 Brigade of the IRA, on March 20. When Michael Collins learned of Swanzy’s involvement, the British authorities transferred him from Cork to Lisburn. Collins’s vast intelligence network tracked him down and he dispatched a special hit team comprised of members of the First Battalion, Cork No. 1 Brigade, to kill him. They achieved their objective on Sunday August 22, as Swanzy was leaving a church service. The killing led to reprisals against the Catholic population of Lisburn. The I.R.A. squad were in hiding for two days in Carlow on their way back to Cork following the assassination. [64]

August 25: In his capacity as His Majesty’s Lieutenant of County Carlow, Lord Rathdonnell writes the following letter to the magistrates and deputy lieutenants of the county:

Dear Sir,
I propose holding a meeting of Deputy Lieutenants and Magistrates of the County on Sept 3rd at 3 o’clock in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Carlow, to frame a Resolution urging the Government to introduce a Bill which, while preserving Ireland within the Empire and safeguarding the security of Great Britain, will give effect to the desire of the majority of the Irish people for self-government.
I trust you will find it convenient to attend.
Yours truly,

The Lisnavagh Archives contains the responses, which seem to be largely if not entirely in support of the motion, as passed on 11 September following.

August 28: ‘Sir Robert and Lady Lynch Blosse who have been living at Ballynoe, Carlow, have taken Gowran Castle for six months and will take up residence there during the week.’

August 31: Sir Richard Pierce Butler, 11th Baronet, of Ballintemple, replies to Rathdonnell’s invitation of 25 August as follows:

Grand Hotel Pauwels,
Wenduyne sur mer,
Aug 31st/20
Dear Lord Rathdonnell,
I have received your notice calling a meeting of Deputy Lieutenants & Magistrates of the county for Sept 3rd & much regret I shall not be able to attend as I shall still be abroad on that date.
I am entirely in sympathy with the object of the meeting & the urgency of some measure to restore law & order in Ireland as soon as possible must be recognised by everyone – as you have probably heard I am trying to sell some of my land at Garryhundon & now they have asked me to sell Ballin Temple. I am rather inclined to part with some of the land there I get a decent price as I see no prospect of being able to rebuild or even of having a small house that we could spend part of the year in & it is an anxiety having a farm of that size on hand when I cannot live there. I would be very glad if you would tell me if you think it would be a good thing to do & what you think the prospects are. My wife sends Lady Rathdonnell her love & hopes she is keeping well.
Yours sincerely,
RP Butler

Limited hours for Carlow pubs.
During the past week or more action has been taken by the Irish Volunteers in Carlow to enforce the closing of all public houses in Carlow at ten o’clock (new time).
It was found necessary in many cases to place a patrol on premises to have the order complied with.
(Note added 2011, M. Purcell: the Royal Irish Constabulary were the official police force but their role was being undermined by the Irish Volunteers who would later become better known as the Irish Republican Army – I.R.A. )
Carlow Petty Sessions.
As a result of a blank calendar there was no petty sessions in Carlow on Monday last.
(Note added 2011, M. Purcell: by this time Sinn Fein had established courts of law for the administration of justice, many people ignored the R.I.C. and did not seek justice or judgements via the ” official” petty sessions)
“Black and Tans” in Kilkenny.
On Tuesday a number of the new recruits known as the “Black and Tans” by reason of their being attired partially in khaki and partially in R.I.C. uniform were to be seen about the streets in Kilkenny. They were not on duty in the streets, but merely passing through and were strolling about for relaxation preparatory to resuming their journey. (PPP).

September 3: “Internal Government”. Demand of Co. Carlow Magistrates and D.L.’s. At a meeting of Deputy Lieutenants and magistrates of the County Carlow was held in the Town Hall, Carlow, [on Friday evening], Lord Rathdonnell presiding, for the purpose of urging on the Government the necessity of an immediate settlement of the Irish question. The following resolution, proposed by Mr. Henry Bruen, and seconded by Mr. D.R. Pack-Beresford, and warmly supported by Right Hon. W. Kavanagh, D.L., was unanimously passed:—– We, the Deputy Lieutenants and Magistrates of County Carlow, realising that the British Government has failed to secure the observance of law in Ireland, and has lost the confidence of all classes, urge upon His Majesty’s Government the desirability of immediately introducing a Bill, the provisions of which should, while preserving our country within the Empire, give the Irish people control of the internal Government of the country including taxation.” [65] Was it overshadowed by the news of Colonel Cosby’s suicide?

September 4: Death of Col. Robert G. Cosby, V.L. Stradbally Hall. Quite a sensation was caused when it became known on Sunday evening that Col. R.G.Cosby, V.L., Stradbally, was found in his chair with a bullet wound through his forehead and a revolver in his hand. Deceased, who was a well-known Queen’s County landlord, lived in the district all his life, and was very popular. He was depressed and melancholy latterly. He was 83 years of age. He was a member of the Queen’s County Grand Jury and a Vice Lieutenant of the Queen’s County. As Chairman of the Stradbally magisterial bench, he was a constant attendant at Petty Sessions. While holding Unionist views all his life, some few weeks ago he attended a meeting of the Queen’s County magistrates and spoke in favour of Dominion Home Rule for Ireland.’

September 8: On a Wednesday evening, Constable Delaney and Constable Gaughran were shot dead in Tullow, Co. Carlow, by the Grangeford Company of IRA. A third constable was ‘dangerously wounded.’ [66] The killings came in a week when a succession of raids took place throughout County Carlow. Many houses in the town and country were visited at night and relieved of any arms or ammunitions found therein. The creamery in Kells was broken into and badly damaged, probably by the Black and Tans.

Sept: ‘CARLOW MYSTERY.  On Tuesday evening the dead body of an unknown man was found in a corn field near Borris, in a place called Knockroe, Rathanna. A label attached to his clothing bore the word “spy”.’ [67]

September 11: The Carlow Sentinel published a ‘Warning to traders and shopkeepers in Carlow’ in consequence of a report submitted to the chairman of Carlow Urban Council ‘concerning the continued obstruction of the public throughfares and pathways in the town by shopkeepers and traders displaying their goods for sale in the most congested portions of the streets and refusing to obey the instructions of the council to remove same, the council decided to issue one more warning to the traders, if this is not complied with, instructions will be given to the Irish Volunteers in Carlow to take stringent steps in the matter.’

Kevin Barry sporting his rugby shirt that he wore in the Belvedere 1st XV.

Sept 20: Kevin Barry arrested in Dublin following deadly attack on British Army bread van at Monk’s Bakery on Church Street, Dublin, in which three soldiers were killed, the first in the city since the Easter Rising of 1916.

Sept 20: The Sack of Balbriggan by the Black and Tans from Gormanstown Barracks follows the killing of Peter Burke, the local head constable and his brother Sergeant Burke. See here.

September 22: Resident Magistrate, Captain Alan Cane Lendrum, MC, is ambushed by four members of the West Clare Brigade IRA at a level crossing at Caherfeenick, near Doonbeg. Captain Lendrum, whose parents had been registered at Lisnavagh at the time of the 1911 Census, was a native of County Tyrone, a former rubber planter in Malaya, and a First World War veteran where he had served with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. He was driving a Ford two-seater when the Volunteers ambushed him that morning. He seemingly drew an automatic pistol when the IRA men demanded he surrender his car, at which point he was shot twice in the head, fatally wounding him. Some accounts maintain that he died of drowning, while unconscious. Others that he was killed by the gunshots. The pro-republican priest Fr. Sean Gaynor conceded “The death of Resident Magistrate Alan Lendrum, was not to our credit”.

IRA Brigade Chief Willie Shanahan arrived on the scene. As the only volunteer who knew how to drive, he disposed of the captain’s car. In direct consequence, he and Michael McNamara, captain of the Doonbeg Company, would soon pay the ultimate price at the hands of crown forces.

Lendrum’s body was weighed with stones and dumped in a nearby lake. On 1 October, the local IRA removed his body from the lake, put it in a roughly constructed coffin and left it on the railway tracks at Craggaknock railway station for the British to find.

Published accounts of the magistrate’s death were quickly manipulated and embellished, substituting mythology for fact. Lendrum’s captors were alleged to have dragged the wounded magistrate to a nearby beach, where they buried him up to his neck and left him to drown in the incoming tide. On their return the next morning, they found him still alive, and they allegedly dug him up and reburied him closer to the shoreline. Later accounts added the gruesome detail that the victim was deliberately faced towards the advancing tide, so that he might witness his own impending fate. These lurid new versions soon became entrenched as ‘the truth’ of what happened, and remained unchallenged until the discovery of Lendrum’s death certificate in the present century. This certificate, issued following a Court of Military Inquiry less than two months after the incident, unambiguously records “murder by shooting” as the cause of death.[68]

October: The Royal Irish Constabulary barracks in Mill Street, Baltinglass, is abandoned. The police then occupy Webb’s (now Gillespie’s’ where the Mill Cafe is located) until November 1921 when they move to the Workhouse military camp (near the present hospital).

October:  “Raid for Arms – Kilkea Glebe, the residence of the Chaplin to the Duke of Leinster, was on Thursday night visited by a band of armed and masked men, who identified themselves as members of Sinn Fein, Volunteer Carlow Brigade, and demanded arms and ammunition. Having obtained what they wanted, they apologised to the reverend gentleman for entering his house, and said they would not have done so, as he was well respected in the neighbourhood, only they thought the British military would raid the house before they did, and they wanted to be first. Throughout the raid their manner was most respectful and polite.” [69]

October: ‘Raids and Arrests in Carlow – During the week British Military and members of the Royal Irish Constabulary carried out several raids in several houses in the town of Carlow and made one arrest. The raiding took place between 3 and 4 o’clock in the morning on Monday last. The premises of Mr James Farrell, Hardware shop, Tullow St. were entered by the military under the charge of an officer. An exhaustive search lasting three hours was carried out and apparently nothing except a Sinn Fein flag was found on the premises. The premises of Miss Brophy, in the same street, were also visited. A young man named Ryan (a native of Kilkenny) was arrested and conveyed to the barracks. A further search was carried out on the private dwellinghouse of Mr P. Conkling and Mr Maurice Walsh. The search lasted for about an hour, and some papers and correspondence was taken. At about 10.30 Mr Ryan was conveyed by military motor lorry to the Curragh. On Tuesday evening he was released and allowed back to Carlow. (Note added 2011. Miss Brophy was later interned in Kilmainham Jail for her involvement in Cumann na mBan and Ryan was also imprisoned for his activities with the Sinn Fein volunteers. Michael Ryan and Miss Brophy later married each other and continued to live on Tullow Street, (alongside the Coliseum Cinema) up to the 1970s. Farrell’s Hardware was situated where Dempsey’s Hardware trades today.) [70]

October 20 (Wednesday): Lord and Lady Rathdonnell in London.

October 20: Kevin Barry tried by military court martial and sentenced to death by hanging.

October 22: Death of Sir Algernon Coote of Ballyfin who, born in 1847, was at Eton with Tom and went on to be an important player in Irish agricultural circles, tackling tuberculosis and latterly supporting Sir Horace Plunkett and the Home Rule dominion status movement.

On last Saturday night, after the arrival of the last down train from Dublin, lively scenes were witnessed in Carlow. Twelve months ago a young man named Patrick Gaffney, son of a farmer residing at Killeshin, Queen’s County, and who was secretary to the Graigue-Cullen Sinn Fein Society, was sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment for publicly reading the Sinn Fein manifesto in the town of Carlow. His period of imprisonment having expired, preparations were made to celebrate his home-coming. He was met at the railway station by two local bands and a party of torch-bearers, who accompanied by a large crowd, escorted him through the principal streets of the town. Party flags were well in evidence, but the display passed off quietly, as there was no interference on the part of the police. [71]

October 25: Terence McSwiney, Lord Mayor of Cork, dies on hunger strike in Brixton Gaol after 74 days.

October 29: Terence McSwiney’s funeral in Cork.

October 31: Major-General H. H. Tudor, Inspector General of the Royal Irish Constabulary, threatens to resign if Kevin Barry is reprieved.

November 1 (Monday): Kevin Barry is hanged in Dublin aged 18, the first to be executed since 1916.

November 2: Horace Rochfort’s son was returning from the Cricket & Rugby Club House (now St. Bridgid’s Hospital) on this freezing cold night when he was seized by Pat Purcell, a young man in the IRB, and some colleagues. They tied him up and dragged him down the River Barrow for a few minutes, before returning him to the seat of his carriage driven by Paddy Buggy. The next morning, Rochfort travelled to Carlow and put his house up for sale. It was purchased by John Heron of Waterford who cut down the trees in the wooded estate for use in his building business and then sold the estate onto another builder called Murphy who used the slates from the house for a church at Carndonagh, Co. Donegal. [72] This was not so much official IRB policy as a local vendetta brought on by evictions in Raheendoran. The Rochforts and Eustace-Ducketts were particularly frowned upon in this regard.

November 5 (Friday): Rathdonnells back at Lisnavagh.

November 21: BLOODY SUNDAY. Fifteen suspect British agents are murdered in Dublin by Michael Collins’s Squad, aka the Twelve Apostles. Later that day in retaliation British soldiers attack crowd at Croke Park, killing fourteen. That evening Jocelyn Lee Hardy is instrumental in the murder of three IRA captors.

The Apostles HQ was on a warehouse on a side street between Upper Abbey Street and Bachelor’s Walk, not far from the Monto. Here they played cards and waited for the words, ‘There’s a job on.’ Remarkably there is no plaque on the building but is that because the Apostles didn’t “exist” until their tale was resurrected in more recent times?

In May 2019, Dr Paul Horan explained to me how two of the Apostles hailed from Upper Hackestown, near the Wicklow border, between Hacketstown and Knockananna. These were Mick McDonnell (sometimes McDonald) (1889-1950), the original commander of the Squad, and his half-brother Tom Kehoe (sometimes Keogh).

Tom’s father was Simon Kehoe of Rathnagrew (Upper Hackestown); his mother Julia (nee O’Toole) was ten years older than his father. Julia’s first husband Michael McDonnell of Rathduffmore, near Knockananna, died from pneumonia in 1897, leaving Michael and four others, Mary, Annie (Nan), Kate (Kit) and Dan. She then wed Simon Kehoe in 1898, after which she had Tom and another son, James. Tom Kehoe was imprisoned in Kilmainham in 1921 but granted ten days parole that November. [73] He remained in Ireland, serving as a Colonel-Commandant in the Irish National Army of the Free State, and appears to have continued as a hitman. On 16 September 1922 he was killed by a landmine in an ambush at Carrigaphooka near Macroom. He was buried at Knockananna graveyard, Co Wicklow.

In January 1921, Collins dispatched Michael McDonnell to California ‘for health reasons’; his Pension File does not clarify whether this was for physical or psychological reasons, and it may have been TB, although there’s also a possibility he went on a mission. He disappeared for a long stretch from 1937, only to be honoured with a granite headstone in Santa Clara, California, when he died in Los Gatos on 15 July 1950. [74]

Also of interest is that Kevin Barry’s home at Tombeagh was within a few short miles of Rathnagrew.

November 23: ‘Lord Rathdonnell arrived in London on Tuesday from County Carlow.’ [75]

November 28: 15 Auxiliaries are killed by Tom Barry’s West Cork Flying Column in the Kilmichael Ambush.[76]

December 1: Tom Rathdonnell in the minority (53 v 111) in – I think – opposing the use of the word ‘Southern’ to describe the new Senate of Ireland under the terms of the Government Of Ireland Bill. However, he seems to have been won around to the idea. At this time, the Southern Unionist population was estimated at 350,000 people.

December 11: Burning of Cork City. Bernard Law Montgomery is sent to Cork City to restore order among Auxiliaries who have burnt town after McSwiney’s death.



Do the Lisnavagh archives contain reference to some form of strike at Lisnavagh in 1921?

In retaliation for the expulsion of Count Plunkett from the RDS, the Markets Committee of Dublin Corporation decided not to allow members of the RDS’s Committee of Agriculture to make use of the markets.

January 17: Foot and Mouth Disease confirmed on a premises in Co. Wicklow; the livestock on it, and its neighbouring premises, were ‘slaughtered out.’ No further outbreaks were recorded until 16 May when six farms were detected in southwestern Wexford and a total of 169 animals slaughtered. The origin of these infections was not determined and no connection between the two outbreaks could be established.

Feb 4: Sir James Craig succeeds Edward Carson as Ulster Unionist leader; Summerhill House in County Meath is burned down by the IRA.

Feb 5: Death of Katharine O’Shea, Parnell’s wife.

February 9: Death of Patrick O’Toole, 30-year-old clerk from Brown Street, Carlow, who ‘died for Ireland’ in Ballykinlar Prison Camp, after a few months’ internment.

February 21: The widowed Amy Philpotts (née Duckett) was married secondly to Lt.-Col. Frederick Makgill Maitland. She died on 20 May 1927 and was buried in the Duckett burial ground at Russelstown Park.

February 21: Two IRA volunteers were killed and two wounded in a shoot-out in Friary St in Kilkenny city.

February 28: Lord Rathdonnell is filmed laughing and chatting with what appears to be some journalists by Pathe while attending the Second Annual Bull Show at the Royal Dublin Society. See here to watch.



February: ‘Right Rev. T.G.F. Day, the new Protestant Bishop of Ossory, Ferns and Leighlin, recently visited Maryborough and preached at Sunday morning and evening Services. At the Parochial Hall he delivered an interesting and instructive lecture on India.’ [77]

February 14: ‘Probably the greatest sensation of the present crisis in Ireland was the escape of Frank Teeling and two others from Kilmainham Prison on Monday night last. According to Dublin Press reports a lorry-load of men uniformed in khaki, wearing steel helmets and carrying the usual arms drove up to the prison gate, and the officer in charge presented a warrant purporting to come from Dublin Castle ordering the prison authorities to hand over Teeling and two others, Donnelly and Stewart, for removal “to another place”. Teeling was under sentence of death for his alleged complicity in the Mount Street shootings. The three men were removed and have not since been heard of. Military headquarters on Wednesday night, however, while admitting the escape , emphatically deny that any hoax was perpetrated. Thereafter the sensational incident is a mystery.’ [78]

February: Michael Barry, brother of Kevin, is arrested, taken to Beresford Barrack, Curragh Camp, and sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment.

Feb 25: Gola House, County Monaghan, ancestral home of the Wright family, burned down by the IRA.

March 6: George Clancy, the Mayor of Limerick and a friend of James Joyce, and his immediate predecessor, Michael O’Callaghan were shot dead in their homes. Mrs Clancy was wounded trying to shield her husband. Another prominent Limerick nationalist Joseph O’Donoghue was taken from his house that night and shot dead in a field.

March 11: After much debate, Dáil Éireann declared war on the British administration. A letter from Lord Rathdonnell in the Archives from early 1921 states that although he had been a firm unionist since birth, he felt that the British Government had failed Ireland by that stage. Meanwhile, the Southern Unionist leader Lord Midleton pointed to the strengthening of the independence movement, telling Lloyd George and Hamar Greenwood that the resistance was now three times stronger than it had been in July 1920.

March 12: ‘Young man shot dead. On Sunday morning last a force of British military arrived in Rathanna near Borris, Carlow, while Mass was being celebrated. There are several “Mass paths” in the vicinity. James Hayden, who had been at Mass and Holy Communion was proceeding home by one of those paths accompanied by three other men. While crossing the field a shot rang out and Mr. Hayden fell dead, shot through the back. It is stated that the party were halted in the usual way. Owing to an order from Dublin Castle, Mr. R.P. McDonald, Coroner, was prohibited from holding an inquest in this particular case. Deep sympathy has been extended to his widowed mother and brother, Rev. Father Hayden, C.C. Bagenalstown. The funeral on Wednesday was one of the largest seen for years. R.I.P.’ [79]

March 12: ‘Big Moyle Estate. We are pleased to hear during the week-end that the Rathoe, County Carlow, Land Committee had purchased from Lord Rathdonnell, the Fee Simple of Moyle Estate, obtaining 412 acres (statute), for the sum of £16,000. This estate adjoins Kellistown, making a huge tract of land which will be divided amongst the evicted tenants, uneconomic holders and landless men. It inspires one with national energy to picture that extent of untenanted land studded with homesteads. From a study of the history of the district, its people will imbibe deep-seated religious beliefs and high-souled patriotism in the exercise of which they will be a strong factor in retaining our position in the world as the noblest and most respected of nations. Our best congratulations should be extended to the Rathoe Committee for the just peaceful, and unostentatious manner in which they acquired the lands’. [80]

On Wednesday night, two lady searchers, accompanied by military, visited Miss Laffan’s in Dublin Street, and Miss Brophy’s in Tullow Street, and made a minute personal search of the female inhabitants.’ [81]

MarchSergeant O’Boyle, Carlow RIC, had what the Nationalist and Leinster Times described as a ‘Miraculous Escape’ when he was shot while cycling back to the Barracks from his residence in Graiguecullen. He was approaching Coal Market (present-day Kennedy Street) from Castle Hill when two bullets struck, one in the left jaw under the eye, the other in the back near the shoulder. ‘Sergeant O’ Boyle returned the fire and fired several shots. He was conveyed into Mrs Kirk’s licensed premises (later known as “Ronnie Delaneys”) in Castle Hill and Dr Colgan and Rev. John Killian were quickly in attendance’, as well as Dr Ryan and Dr O’Meara. He was then taken to the Military Barracks before being brought to Dr. Steevens’ Hospital, Dublin, where he was treated by Dr. Chance. Meanwhile, rifle fire was heard across the town for a while after this, causing considerable terror and the streets were cleared. ‘Devotions were being carried on in the Cathedral at the time and at the conclusion the congregation quickly dispersed to their homes still wondering what had happened.’ O’ Boyle made a complete recovery and, in 1921 he was awarded £1,500 compensation. As Michael Purcell’s account of the event runs,

‘… shortly after the shooting, “Scorcher” O’ Neill, dressed as a woman, raced into Johnny Neill’s pub (now The Barge) and ordered a glass of whiskey, gulped it down and told the barmaid to charge it to the Republican Army. Later that evening British soldiers surrounded Governey’s Boot Factory, Castle Hill, and threatened to burn it down, Graiguecullen priest, Rev. Fr. Michael Bolger, who had served as a Captain in the British Army during the Great War, stopped them from taking this action and ordered them back to Barracks. Following the ambush the three Volunteers involved in the ambush spent four days hiding out in Mangan’s Mills in Coal Market, less than 50 yards from where the ambush took place.’ [82]

March 23: A close call for Captain Jack Colvin, Rathdonnell’s grandson, who was ordered to lead an early-morning Crossley tender patrol out from Strokestown House, County Roscommon. However, a last-minute change of plan meant Captain Roger Grenville Peek was put in charge instead. The patrol was ambushed by the IRA at Scramoge; Peek and five other men were killed. Jack was greatly traumatised by his close escape. [83]

March:CURFEW IN CARLOW. The hours when people residing in Carlow Urban area are compelled to remain indoors are from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. By Military Order.’ [84]

April 2: ‘Curfew in Carlow. Notices were posted throughout the town by the military, issued by Colonel Commandant Skinner, D.S.O., to the effect that by Regulation No. 13 of the Restoration of Order in Ireland Regulation, do hereby order and require every person within the townland of Carlow to remain within doors between the hours of nine o’clock, p.m. and five o’clock, a.m., unless provided with a permit in writing from the Competent Military Authority. The order came into force at 9oc p.m. on Thursday, 24th March 1921. Since Curfew was enforced the streets are deserted by nine o’clock.’ [85]

April 2: Birth of a son at Clogrenane, Carlow, to Mr. and Mrs. Rochfort.

April 3Constable James Duffy, Royal Irish Constabulary, Carlow, was gunned down at close quarters at 8:30pm. He was killed between the Mall and Killeshin, Queen’s County, about two miles from Carlow. Henry James, Graiguecullen, who was with him, was seriously wounded and conveyed to the military hospital at the Curragh Camp. Constable Duffy served with the Royal Garrison Artillery during the Great War, in which he held the rank of Sergeant and received the military medal. He was unarmed when shot. The 30-year-old was the son of Mr Frank Duffy, a well-known horse dealer residing at Tonniscoffey, midway between Monaghan and Ballybay.  [86]

April 7: Constable Duffy’s funeral in Carlow.

Thomas Traynor’s statue in Tullow, County Carlow. A man involved with the exhumation of his body told me that he had been greatly impressed by the tidiness of Traynor’s boots.

April 14: Kilmorna House, the Kerry home of Sir Arthur Vicars, former Ulster King-at-Arms, raided by the local IRA. One of the party, Lar Broder, told the steward, Michael Murphy, that they had come to burn the house, which they duly proceeded to do. However, three members of the Flying Column led Vicars to the end of the garden and shot him. One of his executioners, Jack Sheehan, was himself shot dead by the British army near Knockanure on May 26.

April 18: British ambush Carlow Flying Column of the IRA near Ballymurphy, County Carlow, killing four, including Michael Fay, motor driver, aged 22 years. See article by Daniel Murray.

April 25: Thomas Traynor of Tullow is executed at Mountjoy Gaol in Dublin. A boot maker by trade, he served under Eamon de Valera as a member of the Boland Mills Garrison during Easter Week 1916. On March 14, 1921, Traynor was captured in Pearse Street, Dublin, while in action with Company, 3rd Battalion Dublin Brigade against a British detachment of auxiliaries and Black and Tans. He was tried and sentenced to death. In 2001 the bodies of Traynor and nine others executed in the war (including Kevin Barry) were exhumed from their graves in Mountjoy and given a full State Funeral in Glasnevin Cemetery. At the Ardcarne Remembers 1916 event, Sean Sherwin introduced me to Tom Condit, the National Monuments Service’s archaeologist who attended to the exhumation of both Tom Kent and the Forgotten Ten. He said that Tom Treanor’s boots survived the quick-lime burial because quick-lime protects against the insects that would normally devour such items. He was struck by the Tullow tailor’s “impeccable laces” . Mr Condit also told me Casement’s body may have been mistaken for that of a child-killer during the 1966 reburial but permission to open his grave up has been refused.

April 30: Owen Rice, a 26-year-old ‘factory hand’ working at the Carlow Boot Factory Staplestown Road, and ‘practically the only support of his mother’, was shot dead about 20 or 30 yards from his own front door on Staplestown Road. His death occurred on a Saturday evening when ‘a large number of young men were as usual engaged in a game of pitch and toss in a place known as the Sandpit, in a rather populous district. Naturally when the shooting began the crowds ran in all directions and the wonder is more tragedies did not happen. Naturally when the shooting began the crowds ran in all directions and the wonder is more tragedies did not happen.’ ‘Michael Byrne , ex-soldier, who said he had fought in France, Salouika, Macedonia, Palestine, Sudan, etc., deposed that he was a relation of the deceased. He came home on the night in question about 20 minutes to ten, as he had been at the Comrades of the Great War Club. He asked the officer to let him do something for Rice who was lying on the ground. The officer refused.’ Owen Rice’s funeral was marked by the closure of all business establishments and factories in the town from 8:30 until 4pm. ‘Included in the thousands that marched in the procession were more than twelve hundred members of the Carlow Sacred Heart Sodality of which Owen was an exemplary and devoted member. The Banners of the Sodality formed an imposing feature of the cortege, and many people in the procession could not conceal their emotion as the coffin was borne past his mother’s lonely door.[87]

April 30: Burning of Ballywater House, Castletownroche, County Cork, home of S.G. Penrose Welsted; burning of Convamore House, Ballyhooly, County Cork, home to William Hare, 3rd Earl of Listowel.

May 3: Tom Rathdonnel, the Earls of Meath and Wicklow, Viscount Powerscourt and Sir William Goulding are among 15 peers and 8 Privy Councillors scheduled to sit on the Senate of Southern Ireland under the terms of the 1920 Government of Ireland Act. The Senate convened in the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction in 1921 but was boycotted by Irish nationalists.

May 15: Deadly ambush at Ballyturn House near Gort, County Galway, in which District Inspect C. M. Blake (of Bournemoth), Mrs Blake, Captain Cornwallis (17th Lancers) and 19-year-old Lt McCreery (17th Lancers) are shot dead on their way home from a tennis party hosted by the Baggot family. Margaret Gregory (1884-1979), née Parry, the Slade-educated widow of Robert Gregory of Coole Park (and daughter-in-law of Lady Gregory), was also in the car but she was not killed. In 1928, Mrs Gregory later married Guy Vincent Hugh Gough of Lough Cutra; they briefly lived at Earlscliffe in 1949-1950, the same house where Tom Rathdonnell’s mother Pauline McClintock Bunbury had once lived as a widow. The Gough link to Earlscliffe is notable.

May 24: Dail Elections. Sinn Fein wins 124 of 128 seats in the southern elections

May 25 – 31: On the day that Sinn Fein’s electoral victory is announced, the Dublin Brigade of the IRA attack and burn the Custom House; the fire lasted for six days but the stonework continued to crack into October. 120 are arrested. John Grenham remarks:

From the point of view of genealogy, the biggest loss was the 19th-century census returns, from 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851. How different research would be if they had survived. Only a few fragments, volumes that were in the Reading Room when the occupation began, still exist. Almost two-thirds of pre-1870 Church of Ireland parish registers, declared public records after disestablishment in 1871, were also destroyed, along with the huge collection of original wills and almost all records of seven centuries of government. It could be said that 1922 simplified Irish research. But only in the sense that death simplifies life.’ Most of the Anglo-Norman documents were also destroyed in the Custom House fire.

May 28: Marriage of Col. R. B. Lecky of Ballykealy.

MayDeath Warning. On Saturday evening last two masked and armed men called at the residence of Mr. W.P. Morrow, at Newtown, Co. Carlow, Master, Carlow Union, (The Workhouse), and delivered a notice to Mr. Morrow’s young daughter to the effect that unless he ceased his activities in local land agitation, he would be shot. The note was signed “Anti-Sinn Fein” and below was the legend “God Save the King”. [88] [Mick Purcell wonders was the above message left by members of the I.R.A., ‘stirring it up’].

MayRaids in Carlow. The military arrived at the Carlow Cinema Palace on Thursday night, towards the close of the performance , and searched every member of the male portion of the audience, the women and children being allowed to go home. No arrests were made. On the same night the County Council offices were also visited, and the premises of the Carlow Wood Workers on Friday morning.

New Military Order. Early in the week a notice was posted in the Carlow Post Office window to the effect that on and after May 28th, (Thursday) push / pedal bicycles are not to be used in the County Carlow between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Train Held Up. On Wednesday evening last the military held up the 8.15 train at Carlow and searched all passengers.’ [89]

June 1: Burning of Bearforest, Mallow, County Cork, home to Major Charles Purdon Coote.

June 3: Burning of Newberry Manor, Mallow, County Cork, home to John Pretyman Newman.

June 4: Burning of Lanesborough Lodge, Belturbet, County Cavan, home to Charles Butler, 7th Earl of Lanesborough.

June: The Senate of Southern Ireland holds its first meeting at the Royal College of Science in Dublin. Only fifteen members attend, namely Tom Rathdonnell, Lord Cloncurry, the Marquess of Sligo, Sir Bryan Mahon, Archbishop Gregg, Andrew Jameson, Sir Andrew Beattie, E.H. Andrews, Henry S. Guinness, H.P. Glynn, J.W.R. Campbell, F.F. Denning, C.G. Gamble, Sir William Taylor, and Sir Nugent Everard. The Lord Chancellor of Ireland, Sir John Ross, did not attend due to ill health. Two more Senate meetings were held over the next couple of weeks, with dwindling interest at each one.

June 12: The 80-year-old Rev. John Finlay, a retired Dean of Leighlin and colleague of Tom Rathdonnell, was murdered at his home in Bawnboy, Co. Cavan. He was Rural Dean of Carlow from 1873-1890 and Rector of Carlow from 1890 to 1912. When the Nationalist and Leinster Times informed its readers of his murder, they said he was a man who had ‘endeared himself to all creeds and classes by his natural urbanity of manner and even more so by his sense of real Christian charity. The Catholic population of Carlow – who had learned in the course of 22 years to appreciate his great and good qualities – were shocked to learn of the tragedy, which is somewhat of a mystery.’ For more, see history of Bishopscourt.
According to a report read out in the House of Lords in May 1922, ‘About 2 a.m. on the morning of June 12, 1921, 80 year old, Dean Finlay, one time Dean of Leighlin, Co. Carlow, was murdered, in front of his elderly wife, on the lawn outside his house. More than one witness stated at the Military inquiry that about forty men broke into the house, which they set on fire. Afterwards, the Dean was found on the lawn. He was dead. A few days later nine men were arrested on suspicion and were identified by different witnesses as strangers who had been present on that occasion, and some of them were stated to have carried short iron bars, with which Dean Finlay might have been struck down. No witness came forward who was able to say that he saw the blow delivered. These nine men were in custody awaiting trial at the time of the General Amnesty which followed the signing of the Treaty. They were never brought to trial, and were released from custody in pursuance of the Amnesty extended to persons convicted of, or suspected of having committed, offences from political motives in Ireland. No person has since been brought to justice by the Irish Provisional Government for the murder.’

June 17: Burning of Warren’s Court, Macroom, County Cork, home to Sir Augustus Digby Warren.

June 19: In response to General Lambert’s assasination, the Black and Tans set the village and clay pipe factory in Knockcroghery, Co. Roscommon, on fire.

June 21: Burning of Lord Bandon’s mansion of Castle Bernard in West Cork. The Earl of Middleton, Lord Bandon’s cousin, was head of the southern Irish Unionists at this time.

June 21: King George V addressed the first session of the newly elected Ulster Parliament. According to The Nationalist and Leinster Times, the King concluded his speech with profound emotion as follows: “I speak from a full heart when I pray that my coming to Ireland to-day may prove to be the first step towards an end of strife amongst her people, whatever their race and creed. In that hope I appeal to all Irishmen to pause, to stretch out the hand of forbearance and conciliation, to forgive and to forget, and to join in making for the land which they love a new era of peace, contentment and goodwill …. May this historic gathering be the prelude of a day in which the Irish people, North and South, under one Parliament or two, as those Parliaments may themselves decide, shall work together in common love for Ireland upon the sure foundation of mutual justice and respect.” [90]

About mid-day on Thursday last week an R.I.C. Constable was held up by three armed men in College Street, Carlow and his revolver was taken. He was then told to go away.
The young men arrested recently in Carlow have been removed to Rath Internment Camp. Following the burning of a military motor lorry on 16th June, Jack Scully and Paddy Hogan, Graiguecullen and Maurice Fitzgerald of Sleaty were arrested at Knockbeg while bathing. Martin Haughney of Leighlin St. and John Kavanagh of Dublin St. were also interned. As a result of extensive military operations carried out by a large body of Crown Forces, consisting of cavalry, infantry and police in the districts comprising Rathvilly, Williamstown, Hacketstown, Clonmore on Thursday last, 59 young men were arrested and conveyed to the internment camp at the Curragh.
A number of restrictions under Curfew in Carlow have been removed including use of pedal bikes and the holding of fairs and markets. On Wednesday night a bonfire was lit in the Haymarket, Carlow, a large Republican flag was displayed. A large crowd went through a musical repertoire.’ [91]

June 24: British Prime Minister Lloyd-George invites Eamon de Valera to parlay in London. According to the Nationalist and Leinster Times, Lloyd George sent ‘a remarkable letter ‘over the weekend to Mr de Valera whom he described as ‘the Leader of Southern Ireland.’ (Lloyd George had referred to de Valera as “the Chieftain of the vast majority of the Irish Race.) His letter ran as follows :-

Sir – The British Government are deeply anxious that, so far as they can assure it, the King’s appeal for reconciliation in Ireland shall not have been made in vain. Rather than allow yet another opportunity of settlement in Ireland to be cast aside, they felt it incumbent upon them to make a final appeal, in the spirit of the King’s words, for a conference between themselves and the representatives of Southern and Northern Ireland, I write, therefore, to convey the following invitation to you as the chosen leader of the great majority in Southern Ireland, and to Sir James Craig, the Premier of Northern Ireland:
(1) That you should attend a conference here in London, in company with Sir James Craig, to explore to the utmost the possibility of a settlement.
(2) That you should bring with you for the purpose any colleagues whom you may select. The Government will, of course, give a safe conduct to all who may be chosen to participate in the conference.
We make this invitation with a fervent desire to end the ruinous conflict which has for centuries divided Ireland and embittered the relations of the peoples of these two islands, who ought to live in neighbourly harmony with each other, and whose co-operation would mean so much not only to the Empire but to humanity.
We wish that no endeavour should be lacking on our part to realise the King’s prayer, and we ask you to meet us, as we will meet you, in the spirit of conciliation for which his Majesty appealed.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
( signed ) D. Lloyd George.’ [92]

June 27: Rainfall. To the Editor. Sir—During the first 25 days of June the amount of rain and dew collected here was less than one-sixth of an inch. Yours faithfully, C.H. Cooper, Coopershill, Carlow.[93]

June 28:  President de Valera sent the following letter to Sir James Craig, Sir Robert H. Woods, the Earl of Midleton, Sir Maurice E. Dockrell and Mr. Andrew Jameson:

“A Chara — The reply which I, as spokesman for the Irish Nation, shall make to Mr. Lloyd George will affect the lives and fortunes of the political minority in this island, no less than those of the majority. Before sending that reply, therefore, I would like to confer with you and to learn from you at first hand the views of a certain section of our people of whom you are representative. I am confident that you will not refuse this service to Ireland, and I shall await you at the Mansion House, Dublin, at 11 a.m. on Monday next in the hope that you will find it possible to attend. (signed), Eamonn de Valera’. [94]

June 29: Burning of Stradone House, County Cavan, home to the Burrowes family. The Irish Independent reports on death of Constable Owen Hoey with the following article:

‘Dublin Street Tragedy – An R.I.C. Man Killed. Constable Owen Hoey, R.I.C., a native of Co. Carlow, was shot dead on St. James’s Walk, near the Grand Canal Harbour, Dublin, shortly after 5 p.m. yesterday. Const. Hoey, who was in civilian attire, approached the Canal from Dolphin’s Barn, and was proceeding along the towing path towards Rialto Bridge when three men rode up behind him and dismounted. When the Constable turned about he was faced by three levelled revolvers. Several shots rang out and he fell on the grass between the towing path and the water. Death must have been instantaneous, as deceased had several bullet wounds in the head and body. There were many children playing about and several women, all of whom rushed for safety, while the three men remounted their bicycles and rode away. Some minutes elapsed before anyone ventured to approach the prostrate body. Rev. T. Barry, Dolphin’s Barn, who was summoned, attended promptly and administered Extreme Unction, and later the Fire Brigade ambulance removed the body to Steevens’ Hospital, where life was found to be extinct. Deceased was unmarried. At the scene of the tragedy two military lorries conveying flour were held up and burned a few months ago. A Dublin Castle report of the occurrence says that Const. Hoey was riddled with bullets. He “had just left his sister’s house in Dolphin’s Barn St. and was on his way to Kingsbridge to catch a train for the country.” His revolver was taken, but official messages which he was carrying were left intact.’ [95]

July 2: The Nationalist and Leinster Times publishes Dev’s reply, which he dispatched by telegram’ as follows:

“Sir- I have received your letter. I am in consultation with such of the principal representatives of our Nation as are available. We most earnestly desire to help in bringing about a lasting peace between the peoples of these two islands, but see no avenue by which it can be reached if you deny Ireland’s essential unity and set aside the principle of national self-determination. Before replying more fully to your letter I am seeking a conference with certain representatives of the political minority in this country. (signed) Eamonn de Valera, Mansion House, Dublin.” [96]

July 3: Burning of Moydrum Castle, Athlone, County Westmeath, home to Albert Handcock, 5th Baron Castlemaine.

During last week end there was again considerable military activity in Carlow town and county. Numerous raids and searches were made, and the military acted on every occasion in a courteous manner.
Mr. James P. Doran D.C. Knockmanus House, Chairman R.D.C. and his two sons were arrested and conveyed to Kilkenny where they still remain.
Mr Terence Doyle, Solicitor, Tullow, was released from Carlow Military Barracks on Saturday. No charges was formulated against him.
Houses in Haymarket were searched but nothing was found.. Several raids were made including Mrs Tynans, Dublin St., James Corcoran’s Burrin St., Tunstead family home, Burrin St. John Walshe’s Burrin St. and Misses McDonald’s Graiguecullen.
During the week the police visited the County Council Offices in the Courthouse, Carlow and took away copies of certain documents and entries. A similar entry was made to the Urban Council Offices in the Town Hall and
took away copies of certain documents.
Military also visited Tynan’s Hotel,Tullow St. the Royal Arms Hotel, Dublin St. evidently looking for somebody.
On Tuesday Mr Patrick McDermott, Publican, Tullow St. was arrested by the military and taken to the military barracks.
Seven County Carlow men are at present in custody: Patrick McDermott, Tullow St., David Murphy, Leighlinbridge, James Byrne, Tullow, Pat Redmond, Clonegal, Tom Kennedy, Kilcarrig, Clonegal, James Hickey, Clonegal, William Mannering, Clonegal.
Mr. James Leonard, U.D.C. Tullow St. was sentenced to six months imprisonment.
On Wednesday night the military carried out raids at Miss Brophy’s restaurant, Tullow St., Mrs Reidy’s Dublin St. Mrs Kelly’s Governey Sq. and Miss Laffen’s Dublin St.’ [97]

July 8: (Friday) The British Army and the Army of the Irish Republic announce a formal truce after a meeting at the Mansion House. A statement was duly issued:

‘Agreement has been reached on a Truce between the British Military Authorities and the Irish Republican Army. The Truce will come into effect at noon on Monday 11th July 1921.’ Terms and conditions were also included (see July 11). The following account was published in the Nationalist and Leinster Times on 16th July 1921 and was generously transcribed by Michael Purcell who made the point that this colourful account is how local people in Carlow would have first read about the events.

Friday last will rank as one of the most momentous days in the chequered history of this, our native land. On that day, July 8th – the day of the announcement of the truce between the British Army and the Army of the Irish Republic – the first real step was taken to end the centuries old war that had been waged between the two countries. ~~~
It was a hot sweltering day and the tropical sun beat down mercilessly on the thousands that had congregated outside the Mansion House in Dawson Street, Dublin ~~~~.
The psychology of that crowd was indeed an interesting study. ~~~~
From an early hour they came in hundreds and in thousands. The members of that memorable conference invited by President De Valera were cordially received. The Leaders of the Nation, of course, were lovingly greeted, but the representatives of the Unionist minority were generously applauded.
One of them – Earl Middleton – who smilingly acknowledged the crowd must have thought and wondered. ~~~ A few years ago Lord Midddleton had declaimed passionately and with gusto against the passing of a miserable and paltry Home Rule Bill for Ireland which his ilk regarded as a violation of their rights and privileges. And men cried bitter tears at the awful picture he painted as to the future of Ireland under an Irish Government.~~~~~
The crowd recited the Rosary over and over as they waited for news to emerge from the Mansion House, a shrewd old man who had been waiting for hours and seemed to enjoy it, said, “I don’t like this, they are taking too long. ‘Tis a bad sign, they mustn’t be able to agree”. And those remarks give a pretty fair indication of the different feelings.
Another sensation. General Macready again returns and again enters the Mansion House. The Rosary is again recited. ~~~~~~~.
‘Twas past 7.30 p.m. when the General lef again, and this time he was accompanied by some of the Unionist members. We knew now that the Conference had ended.
What was the result of it ?
Was it a truce ?
Or what ? Or what ?
Where was De Valera ?
Or Griffith ?
The crowd was worked up to a terrible state of excitement. Men looked at one another with eyes that scarcely saw. There was that far-away look. Expectant, quivering, breathless, they waited, and waited, and waited. Voices scarcely raised above a whisper, asked timid questions, and the replies were terse, rapid, snappy.
At last! At last! The Lord Mayor comes to the door of the Mansion House. The crowd cheers. It was not hearty. Rather was it hopeful, and after that last half hour it did one good to have a shout.
If ever a man’s face was studied, Lord Mayor O’Neill’s was at that moment. Ten thousand eyes were riveted on it.
But it told nothing. He raised his hand for silence, and the big pulsating, throbbing crowd surged in. The excitement was almost an agony. And this evening he could sincerely tell them that this was the proudest and the happiest moment of his life.
My God! What a scene!
The scene that followed the Lord Mayor’s statement baffles description. That is no mere play of words. I fail hopelessly to describe it. The actions of one man who was near me epitomise the whole thing. He was a staid, shrewd- looking business man, but his flaming eyes told the tale of lost control. He had a stick in one hand and his hat in the other. Both raised aloft. Down they came quite suddenly. That hat was placed on top of the stick and up they went again with a terrible shout.
A crescendo of cheers greeted the appearance of Mr Duggan. Reading from a paper in his hand he began thus amidst a profound silence :-
“President De Valera ——————–”
He got no further. A tornado of cheers of many minutes’ duration followed. That crowd went mad. There is no other word for it. Any other word that I could use would be too tame.
When the cheers had subsided the statement was read. The historic document has been read and re-read so often now that it would be superfluous for me to repeat it in these few lines.
A truce had been suggested and agreed to by both sides. There was a wonderful scene of enthusiasm.
But the crowd had not had enough. De Valera, the hero of the people, had not yet left the Mansion House and they were going to see him once again.
Nearly another hour’s wait was passed and then a shout went up — ” The President! The President! ”
To the accompaniment of a Niagara roar, President De Valera appeared amongst the people who love him and whom he loves.
It was a thrilling and a fitting climax.
What can I say? Nothing.
Can I describe the scene that followed? No. Emphatically no.
That crowd lost itself in the fervour of its enthusiasm, and no man was accountable for his actions.
A way was made with difficulty to the waiting motor. Volunteers jumped on to the sides of the car and amidst a cheering, running, panting crowd it sped into the distance.
And the crowd slowly, quietly and silently melted away.
July 1921. F.J.G. [98]

July 8: Burning of Shanton House, Ballybay, County Monaghan, home to the Fitzherbert family.

July 9: Burning of Ardamine House, Gorey, County Wexford, home of Major A. W. Mordaunt-Richards.

July 10: A few hours before the Truce came into force, the following was reported by the Officer Commanding, H. Company, Cork No. 1 Brigade, Irish Republican Army.” At 8pm we held up four British soldiers and searched them, but found no arms. We took them to a field in our area where they were executed before 9pm.”

July 11: According to the Nationalist, ‘the main terms of the Truce between the Irish and British governments came into effect at noon on Monday, July 11th 1921. On behalf of the British Military it was agreed :

No further movements for military purposes of Military Troops, Royal Irish Constabulary, Auxiliary Police or munitions.
No provocative display of Forces, armed or unarmed.
No pursuit of Irish officers or men or war material or stores.
No secret agents, noting descriptions or movements, and no interference with the movements of Irish persons, military or civil, and no attempts to discover the haunts or habits of Irishmen.
No pursuit or observance of lines of communication or connection.
No Curfew restrictions.
On behalf of the Irish Republican Army it was agreed:
Attacks on Crown Forces and civilians to cease.
No provocative displays of Forces , armed or unarmed.
No interference with Government or private property.
And to discountenance and prevent any action likely to cause disturbance of the peace which might necessitate military interference.
President de Valera issued a proclamation ; “During the period of the truce each individual soldier and citizen must regard himself as a custodian of the nation’s honour” he ordered that they “should hold themselves ready for mobilisation if force was resumed against our nation”
The men of the Irish Republican Army were free to return to their homes.

July: ‘RESTRICTIONS OFF IN CARLOW. A number of restrictions under Curfew have been removed including use of pedal bicycles, holding of Fairs and Markets.’ [99]

July 11: President de Valera travelled to London to meet with Lloyd George. He was accompanied by his secretary Kathleen O’Connell, Arthur Griffith, Robert Barton, Austin Stack, Count Plunkett, Erskine Childers, Doctor Robert and Mrs Farnan of Castledermot.  His first meeting with Lloyd George took place on July 14th. Over the next seven days they had four meetings, upon which a series of Sinn Fein reports were published in The Nationalist and Leinster Times. [100]

The Carlow Summer Assizes were held at the Courthouse, Carlow, on Wednesday, before Lord Justice O’Connor. Mr J. D. MacCarthy, Clerk of the Crown and Peace, was in attendance.
THE GRAND JURY. The following were sworn on the Grand Jury :- Henry Bruen [Kate Rathdonnell’s brother], John Alexander, Brigadier-General Robert Browne-Clayton, Col. F. Beecham Lecky, J. O. Adair, William Duckett-Stuart, John Kehoe, John Barton, Charles A. Butler, A. H. Cooper, H. C. Rochfort, William Fitzmaurice, William J. Haughton, Michael Foley, Patrick Kinsella, James Rafter.
His Lordship – Mr Bruen and Gentlemen of the Grand Jury, there is only one case to go before you. It is a case of cattle stealing on a large scale. It seems a simple case according to the depositions, and I have no observation to make upon it. When the Clerk of the Crown Court and Peace concluded calling the list of Petty Jurors he informed his Lordship that there were only seven jurors present. His Lordship said that as a result of the shortage of the jury the case would be adjourned to the Winter Assizes.
Mr Bruen handed His Lordship the following resolution, proposed by Brigadier-General Browne-Clayton, seconded by Mr Michael Foley, and adopted – “The members of the Grand Jury of the County of Carlow desire to put on record their earnest hope that a lasting settlement may be attained as a result of the proposed conference. They earnestly pray to Almighty God that peace and prosperity may be restored to our country”
His Lordship – We all say “Amen” to that resolution. The Press will take a note of it, and the Clerk will take a note of it in the Crown Book. His Lordship said he was obliged to the jurors who attended, particularly the ladies, and he would now discharge them till the next assizes. Several jurors were fined 40 shillings each for non-attendance.’ [101]
[Note added by Michael Purcell in 2011. Sinn Fein courts were sitting at this time that is why there is only one case before Lord Justice O’ Connor, to further confuse the justice system people were not turning up to serve on a jury. This was the last time the Grand Jury assembled for the Crown Court in Carlow.]

July 16: The Nationalist reports that ‘Liam Stack has been appointed as Divisional Liaison Officer for the Counties of King’s County, Queen’s County, Kildare and Carlow on behalf of the Irish Republican Army to act in conjunction with Divisional Commissioner Marrinan on behalf of England. It is ordered that so far as the Irish Republican Army is concerned, the truce must be kept to the letter. The other side has given their word too, that the Truce will be kept. It is hoped that the Truce will result in an honourable and lasting peace, and that nothing will be done in the meantime to give any reason for violating the terms.’

[Note added by Michael Purcell 2010: Commandant Liam Stack was one of the leading Irish Republican Army figures during the War of Independence. He had been placed, working undercover, in Carlow where he was employed as “John Leahy” in McAnally’s Pharmacy (later Coreless Chemist) in Dublin Street. In 1921 he commandeered Duckett’s Grove during the Truce, where he recruited members of the I.R.A. and others to help form the new Irish Free State Army. He subsequently married Sarah Reynolds, daughter of the caretaker of Carlow Court House. In later years he served as a Chief Superintendent in the Irish Police Force].

July 21: Dev met with Lloyd George for the last time and informed the British Prime Minister, that after conferring with the colleagues he had travelled with, he had no choice but to reject the proposals for the Treaty but that he was willing, upon his return to Ireland, to put the proposals to Dail Eireann. Many years later Dev recalled how Lloyd George threatened him with renewed war that day: “Do you not realise that this means war, Mr de Valera? I could put a British soldier in Ireland for every man, woman and child in the country.” To which de Valera replied, ” ah yes, but the problem is that you would have to keep them there”. [102]

July 30The Nationalist and Leinster Times published an article entitled ‘KING GEORGE AND IRELAND’ and sub-titled ‘Lord Northcliff’s Revelations’ in which they gave details of an interview given by the Daily Mail press magnate with the New York Times and other papers that morning. Lord Northcliffe told how George V had played a key role in the build-up to the truce. “It is not generally known” said Lord Northcliffe, “that under our constitutional form of government the King has still a good deal of power when he chooses to use it. At the last meeting he had with Mr Lloyd George before leaving for Ireland the King asked him: “Are you going to shoot all the people in Ireland”
“No, your Majesty”, the Prime Minister replied.
“Well then” said the King, ” you must come to some agreement with them. This cannot go on. I cannot have my people killed in this manner”.
Lord Northcliffe also maintained that “the famous speech delivered by the King to the Ulster Parliament was the result of his own inspiration, not as is generally understood in this country in regard to speeches by royal
personages, carefully prepared for him by his Ministers.” Lord Northcliffe also credited the king with getting General Smuts to intervene and persuade the Sinn Fein leaders to meet for a conference.
King George was forced to issue a statement to the effect that he had never said the words attributed to him by Lord Northcliffe and that he had spoken on behalf of the British Government when he delivered his conciliatory speech in Ulster. On 29th July, Lord Northcliffe, facing a global social boycott from the British establishment, also cabled the King’ secretary, denying that he had ever given the interview. The papers reported that his mind had become ‘overstrained’ and that he was in the verge of a nervous breakdown. Within twelve months Lord Northcliffe was confined, by order, to his home in London. He became paranoid that someone was trying to kill him and was declared insane. He died in August 1922, aged 57.
Some suspected that Sinn Fein’s propaganda agent Erskine Childers was at work. [103]

July 30: Murder of Francis Brooke, director of the Great Southern & Eastern Railwaysat his Dublin office by Michael Collins squad. His daughter Alice Gertrude Brooke was married in 1905 to Dermot Henry Doyne of Shillelagh, younger son of Charles Mervyn Doyne of Wells. At the time Burke’s Peerage was compiled in 1959, she was living at Germaine’s, Lisnavagh, County Carlow, but I am not yet sure when she moved there. Frank Brooke had been appointed agent to Coolattin in 1887. He was interred in Shillelagh alongside his first wife, Alice. See Kevin Lee’s account here.

August 9: ‘On Tuesday, August 9th, at St. Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge, London, by the Very Revd. Gough McCormick, Dean of Manchester, cousin of the bride, assisted by Lieut.-Colonel J. Macpherson, assistant Chaplin General Western Command, the marriage was solemnised of Captain Ivan Guthrie, M.C., 17th Cavalry, son of Captain and Mrs. Guthrie of Guthrie, Guthrie Castle, Forfarshire, and Miss Mona Gough, daughter of the late Colonel the Hon. G. H. Gough, C. B., and the Hon. Mrs. Gough, 13 Grosvenor Place, London. The bride was given away by her brother, Captain Guy V. H. Gough, late 60th Rifles, and wore picture dress of white satin, entirely veiled old Brussels lacc, the gift of the bridegroom’s mother, and finished with a full court train of silver tissue. A wreath of shamrocks and orange blossoms held the long tulle veil in place. Miss Peggy Brocklehurst and Miss Verona Lockett were bridesmaids, and the train was carried the Hon. Lloyd Kenyan and Hon. Myvida Kenyon, twin son and daughter of Lord and Lady Kenyon, while also in attendance as pages were Master Antony and Michael Sturdy, sons Mr. and the Hon. Mrs. Sturdy. The bridesmaids wore silver tissue dresses veiled in shamrock-green tulle, and veils to match, caught with bunches of shamrock, while the children were dressed green linen suits. The bridegroom gave jade pendants to his bride’s attendants, and was accompanied to the altar by his brother, Captain Nigel Guthrie, the Rifle Brigade. There was not any formal reception. [104] [Was 17th Cavalry same as 17th Lancers, as per the two officers killed in the Ballyturn House ambush in May 1921?]

August 11: Commandant Robert Barton presented a letter to Downing Street confirming de Valera’s rejection of the Treaty:
IRISH LEADER’S REPLY. British Control Repudiated. President de Valera on behalf of the Ministry of Dail Eireann, presented the following letter at 10 Downing Street, at noon on August 11th through Commandant Robert Barton. Office of the President, Mansion House, Dublin. August 10th 1921. To : The Right Hon. David Lloyd George, 10 Downing Street, Whitehall, London.
Sir, On the occasion of our last interview I gave it as my judgement that Dáil Eireann could not and that the Irish people would not accept the proposals of your Government as set forth in the draft of July 20th, which you had presented to me. Having consulted my colleagues, and with them given these proposals the most earnest consideration, I now confirm that judgement. etc. etc.’ [105]

August 26: Matthias Erzberger, who negotiated Germany end to war, is assassinated by the right-wing terrorist group Organisation Consul.

September 9: Death of Tom Rathdonnell’s son-in-law, Lt Col Henry Bramwell. Bill Burgess of Tobinstown, who died aged 105 in 2007, recalled Major Bramwell as a ‘big man’, who had been very badly wounded in the 1914-1918 War and recuperated at Lisnavagh. Major Bramwell bought a horse from Bill’s brother Harry Burgess and hunted with the Carlow Hunt.

Sept 14: The Dáil votes to appoint plenipotentiaries to negotiate with Britain regarding Ireland’s independence.

Sept 20, circa‘MR. F. GUNNING. We regret recording the death of Mr. F. Gunning, which occurred at his residence, Burrin Street, Carlow, on Sunday. Deceased had reached a very advanced age and had been resident in Carlow for upwards of half a century. The late Mr. Gunning was one of those who had few enemies and many friends, and he was highly respected by the people of Carlow of all shades and classes who appreciated his gentlemanly qualities. Having seen service in various campaigns, including the Crimean War, Mr. Gunning became attached to the 8th Battalion King’s Royal Rifles (Carlow Militia) as Sergeant Major, and on returning took up permanent residence in his adopted town. The internment took place in Killeshin Churchyard on Tuesday, and the funeral –a military one — was very largely attended. The band of the 5th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers played the Dead March and the Last Post was sounded. Rev. Canon Ridgeway, M.A., officiated at the graveside.[106] [As Mick Purcell says, this may well have been the last time that a Military Funeral was held to acknowledge the role of an ex-British Serviceman in the 26 counties.]

September 14: The portrait painter Sir Oswald Birley marries the Carlow beauty Rhoda Vava Mary Lecky Pike (1900-81), who was 20 years his junior, at St Mary’s Anglican Church, Bryanston Square, London. Sir Oswald’s paintings of her include ‘Rhoda in a Black Hat.’  Her father was landowner and sportsman Robert Lecky Pike, known as ‘Piko’, of Kilnock, County Carlow. She was also a niece of Helen Howard and Anne Williamson, who always called her Aunt Vava, was very fond of her.Sir Oswald and Rhoda lived at Charleston Manor in East Sussex. Their daughter Maxine Birley (1922-2009) became the Comtesse de La Falaise (having married married Count Alain Le Bailly de La Falaise) and was a 1950s mode and an underground movie actress in the 1960s. Their daughter Loulou de la Falaise was the late Knight of Glin’s first wife. Maxine later married John McKendry, the curator of prints and photographs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Sir Oswald and Rhoda’s son Mark Birley (1930-2007) was an entrepreneur and founded Annabel’s nightclub in Mayfair, which he named for his wife, the former Lady Annabel Vane-Tempest-Stewart, daughter of the 8th Marquess of Londonderry. Mark  lived at Thurloe Lodge in South Kensington for 30 years. (With thanks to Morgan Kavanagh.)

September 27: Kate Rathdonnell’s brother Eddo Bruen attends funeral of the Marquess of Milford Haven, late Admiral of the Fleet, in Portsmouth.

October 30: Constable McCarthy, RIC, shot in arm in Baltinglass in a breach of the Truce.

November 19: Sir Henry Wilson opens the Ulster Tower on the Western Front. He is assassinated seven months later.

December 6Anglo-Irish Treaty signed in London.

December 8: Viscountess Fitzalan asks Lady Rathdonnell to gather money for a present for Princess Mary, prompting her to send the following letter to The Nationalist. The letter is published weekly until late January, irrespective of the political changes going on all around!

To the Editor “Nationalist and Leinster Times
Lisnevagh, Rathvilly, County Carlow.
Sir- –
I have received the following letter from Her Excellency The Viscountess Fitzalan, and would ask you to be good enough to publish it, with my accompanying notice, in the next two issues of your paper :-
Vice Regal Lodge, Dublin, 8th December 1921,
Dear Lady Rathdonnell –
I feel sure that the women of Ireland would wish to offer a present to Her Royal Highness, Princess Mary, on the occasion of her marriage. Subject to your approval, I would suggest that the wife of The Lieutenant in Carlow should form a committee of the ladies in the county to collect money for this purpose, that women only should be invited to contribute, and that the subscriptions should be from one shilling upwards, so that poor and rich may be able to subscribe.
I would suggest that the subscriptions from each county should be sent to me at the Vice Regal Lodge, Dublin, and that we all meet to decide what form the present should take.
No Doubt we should agree it should be something made in Ireland. –
Yours sincerely, MARY FITZALAN.

In response to the above I am ready to receive any subscriptions, which can be sent to me personally, or to any of the following members of the Committee, who have kindly consented to receive them:-
Mrs Bruen, Oak Park ; Mrs. Bagenal, Benekerry ; Mrs. Browne-Clayton, Browne’s Hill ; Mrs. Kavanagh, Borris ; Mrs. Lecky, Ballykealy ; Mrs. Vessy, Dunleckney ; Mrs. Lecky-Watson, Lumclone, Fenagh.
The subscription list will be closed on January 14th. 1922.

December 15: “Constable Ronayne and Constable Morrissey were on duty near the weighing machine at Carlow Railway Station, between two and three o’clock in the evening, when a group of eight or nine men came on the platform, one of them rushed over to them and shouted “hands up” and then presented a revolver and fired blank point at Constable Ronayne. The bullet struck him in the chest and he fell on the platform. While he was down, he received some very severe treatment with some of the men kicking him on the ground. Constable Morrissey was dragged to the ground and kicked about the place. When the attackers cleared off Constable Morrissey went to Ronayne’s assistance and with the aid of a civilian managed to drag the wounded man several hundred yards to the County Infirmary. He was later transferred to Steeven’s Hospital in Dublin where he made a good recovery. Constable Ronayne had joined the British Army in 1914 and fought all through the war in France. After being demobilised in 1919 he joined a shipping company. He joined the Royal Irish Constabulary on the 15th March 1920. His wage was £180 a year while in the police. In January 1922 Constable Ronayne was awarded £2,200 in damages in a Malicious Injury claim at Carlow Court. The award was levied off the County-at-Large.[107]
[Note from Michael Purcell – “This incident took place in December 1921 during the Truce, therefore Constables Ronayne or Morrissey should not have been “on duty” as stated in the report, and they were probably unarmed as the Royal Irish Constabulary were technically confined to barracks during this period. Unless they were working undercover it would seem they were waiting for a train when they were attacked. But this report was compiled by the Irish Republican Police who may be trying to justify the action of the “group of men” who attacked them by claiming that the Constables were “on duty”.

December 1921: ‘NOTICE —IMPORTANT. I request the public in general to forward me any information which may lead to the discovery and arrest of the robbers who are going loose in Carlow town and county. I guarantee that, if such information is forth-coming there will be a sudden halt to the march of those criminals, and that they will be drastically dealt with by the Republican Authorities. It is inadvisable that sums of money be taken on delivery vans as the robbers seem intent on watching those vehicles for loot. In case of robberies of any description persons should immediately inform the nearest I.R.A. authorities so that they may get on the track of the criminals.
Every man should do his upmost to defend his own property when no other help is at hand.
Motor cars should never halt at night on any account.
(signed) Liam Stack, Commandant, Irish Republican Army.’ [108]

Two-thirds of land (11 million acres) in Ireland has by now become the property of the Irish tenants. Closure of the land question finally came to an end in the 1920s when land purchase became compulsory. It was the end of a process that had begun with the land agitations of 1879-82 and which would completely alter the social and political landscape of Ireland.



The Constitution Committee meeting in the Shelbourne Hotel, January 1922. From Left to Right:- R.J.P. Mortished (Secretary); John O’Byrne, B.L.; C.J. France; Darrell Figgis (Acting Chairman); Ned Stephens, B.L. (Secretary); P.A. O’Toole, B.L. (Secretary); James Mac Neill (sic); Hugh Kennedy, K.C.; James Murnahan (sic), B.L.; James Douglas. (Prof. Alfred O’Rahilly and Kevin O’Sheil, B.L., were absent from the Session.) Most conspicuously absent was the Committee chairman, Michael Collins, who did not attend after the first meeting.. I enjoyed a fabulous dinner in this room 100 years later when I attended Austin Sullivan’s 80th, 81st and 82nd birthday, all rolled into one.

Jan 5: Death on South Georgia Island of Ernest Shackleton, aged 47.

January 7: The Anglo-Irish Treaty is ratified by the Dáil (64 votes to 57) but ultimately sparks a civil war between supporters of the Free State and those opposed to the treaty.

January 10: Arthur Griffith, the founder of Sinn Fein and one of the architects of the 1921 peace treaty with Britain, is elected president of the newly established Irish Free State. For a look at the cabinet that came to power at this time, look at this British Pathe report.

January 14: “The House of Commons of Southern Ireland had a curious resurrection … when as part of the process of ratification of the December 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty its members were called together to approve it and appoint the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State on 14 January 1922. (There were interesting theological debates between Collins and the British government as to who had the right to summon this meeting, and on what authority.) This was the first occasion when the Trinity College representatives sat in an assembly with the Sinn Feiners. Of course, by this point the Second Dáil had itself narrowly approved the Treaty, and the anti-Treaty members of the Dáil simply boycotted the meeting.”

Jan 14 (or 21?): Six cars leave Monaghan to bring the Monaghan football team to Derry for the Ulster Championship Final. They are stopped outside Dromore, County Tyrone, by the B-Specials who find weapons, arrest 10 of the players and intern them in Omagh.

January 13: In accordance with the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, all political prisoners were released from British custody. With the British Army, the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Black and Tans confined to barracks, joyous scenes were recorded throughout the Free State as prisoners came home. The Nationalist reported on:

Scenes of great enthusiasm [which] marked the home-coming of the released political prisoners in Carlow, and surrounding districts during the week.’

A large crowd gathered to meet them from the 8:20 train on Saturday night.

As the train arrived there was a tremendous cheering which was renewed again and again as the ex-political prisoners alighted on the platform. The immediate relatives and friends of the men were the first to extend a hearty welcome, and then the cheering of the vast crowd marked the public appreciation of the sacrifices and hardships which their fellow-townsmen had undergone for their country’s freedom.’

Six months later, during the Civil War, many would take up the gun again but this time against each other.[109]

Jan 16: British commander Dublin, General Boyd, moves his Headquarters from Dublin Castle to the barracks in the Phoenix Park. Michael Collins establishes a committee to draft a new Constitution for the Irish Free State, with Darrell Figgis as vice-chairman became. The commitee meet in the Shelbourne Hotel. The resultant draft – Bunreacht Shaorstát Eireann in Irish – was adopted by Act of Dáil Éireann sitting as a constituent assembly on 25 October 1922.

January 19:
‘Deserted by England. Southern Unionists and the Provisional Government.
At a meeting of Unionists of the South and West of Ireland, held in Dublin yesterday, the following resolution was unanimously adopted -“That we, the Unionists of the South and West of Ireland, recognising that a Provisional Government has been formed, desire to support our fellow-countrymen in this Government in order that peace may be brought about and the welfare of the community secured.”
The Earl of Mayo, who summoned the meeting, presided, and said he did not want to run counter to Lord Midlelon, whom he looked upon as his leader. Continuing, Lord Mayo said the change that had come about in Ireland was ‘a cold douche’ to many Unionists. There would be an election in Ireland as well as on the other side of the water, and in Ireland that election would be fought on Dominion status and an Irish Free State versus an independent republic. As regards the elections, committees would be formed in Dublin. Cork, Limerick, and Galway. These committees must get into touch with other local organisations and all those who intended to support the Irish Free State. They must realise that the past was gone, and try to forget as many of the old prejudices as human nature could allow them.
Lord Dunraven, who proposed the resolution, said he approved of the terms of the [Anglo-Irish] Treaty, but even if did not, he would think it his duty to put his views on one side and support the Provisional Government, which stood between them and chaos.
Mr. Blacker Douglas, seconding, said that commercially they had a great chance now.
Mr. Hussy de Burgh was of the opinion that before passing the resolution they should go into the matter of how the Free State was to be worked, and where was the money to come from. If the seven millions’ dole from England was to be removed, how was the country to get on? He doubted if the Treaty would last as long as the Union. But he thought they would have to help Mr. Griffith keep down the Black and Red Bolsheviks. They had been deserted by the English Government in order get through a certain treaty America, and that treaty was not yet through.
There was no other speaker, and the meeting concluded.
Amongst those present was the Marquis of Headford, Lord Powerscourt, Lord Cloncurry, Lord Rathdonnell, Lord Croskerry, and Commander Gaisford St. Lawrence.
Messages approving the resolution were received from, amongst others, the Earl Kenmare, the Earl of Courtown, Lord Dunsany, Lieut.-General Sir Bryan Mahon, Sir H. Grattan Bellew, Bart., and James O’Grady Delmege.’

About sixty people attended the meeting. [110]

Jan 21-28: The week-long Irish Race Congress is held in Paris. An initiative of Irish in South Africa, its aim was to gain international recognition for the new Irish Free State, and to harness the support of the global Irish diaspora. The O’Donnell, Duke of Tetuan, a Spanish delegate, was elected Honorary President. Éamonn de Valera, Eoin Mac Neill, Douglas Hyde and Mary McSweeney all attended but the tensions of the impending Civil War were all around. The congress was accompanied by a month-long post-colonial ‘Exposition D’Art Irlandais’ in the Galerie Barbazanges, Paris, featuring 280 artworks from people like Jack Yeats, Sarah Purser, Harry Clarke, Sean Keating, Lily Yeats, John Lavery, Mary Swanzy, and Paul Henry. The French government bought Paul Henry’s work. There was also theatre by John Millington Synge and Lady Gregory; a concert of traditional music, a poetry recitation; 10 lectures including one by WB Yeats on Anglo-Irish literature, and one by Jack B. Yeats on Irish art and Irish language and literature. The exposition was a kind of cultural climax to the Gaelic Renaissance and an ingenious plan to open diplomatic channels by bringing Irish art and music to the global stage and presenting this new cultural identity to the wider world, instead of the dissension that was about to erupt in the Civil War.

January 23: The Rochforts host their last great ball in the fine ballroom of Cloghrennan; the Rochforts left Carlow that same year.

January 25-30: ‘After being confined to barracks for several months during the Truce, and now in January 1922 getting ready to depart from Ireland, the soldiers of the 1st Battalion of the Fifth Fusiliers, British Army, were invited to put on a farewell concert in Carlow’s Deighton Hall. This advertisement informs us that the St. George’s Minstrels recruited from within the battalion will perform at the forthcoming concert supported by the Fifth Fusiliers Brass Band. Heated discussions took place to decide if the soldiers could march, for the last time, in full military regalia from Carlow Barracks to the Deighton Hall on the day of the concert.’ [111]

NOTICE. DEIGHTON MEMORIAL HALL at 8pm. Monday, January 30th 1922. ADDITIONAL PERFORMANCE by St. GEORGE’S MINSTRELS and the Band, 1st Battalion Fifth Fusiliers. Owing to the great number of persons who were unable to obtain admission to the Evening Performance at the Deighton Memorial Hall on January 25th, it has been decided to hold an additional performance. Ticket holders for EVENING PERFORMANCE, Jan 25th, who were unable to obtain admission, will be admitted on production of Ticket. Tickets for additional Concert are now on sale at Mr Craig’s, Dublin Street, and Mr Rudock’s Newsagent, Tullow Street. Admission by Ticket only.

January: British Army leave Workhouse military camp (near the present hospital) in Baltinglass. RIC remain in the adjacent hospital building till 4 March 1922.

January 28: ‘The death occurred at 6oc on Sunday morning last of Pope Benedict XV. His last words were “I willingly offer my life for the peace of the world”.’ (The Nationalist).

January 30: Carlow Barracks handed over the Free State. The following comes from an interview conducted in the 1980s by Lavinia Greacen with the late Major General Jim Lillis while researching her exceptional book ‘Chink’:

“We were in Ducketts Grove, 6 to 9 miles out of town, when we were instructed by GHQ to take over Carlow Barracks. I was brigade adjutant, aged 24 at the time and I’d been born in Carlow. We had rooms, but no uniforms. I wore a lounge suit with Sam Browne belt which identified me as an officer. I didn’t carry a gun and hardly ever wore a hat. All the Privates were Volunteers. The arms were a miscellaneous collection of South African war ones. (Ducketts Grove was burned after.) Food varied: some chap who had been a butcher would steal a couple of sheep. We ran simple courses with 50 – 60 men, none of us had enough training to do proper courses. I was a teacher, and had little experience as I’d been on the run, captured and interned in the Rath. In Carlow we always had a lot of reports to make out. Commandant Stack was in his mid 20’s, about a year older than me, from Kerry and also on the run. He’d been a chemist’s assistant in a shop beside the Post Office, and didn’t appear in public till after the Truce- a lightweight, but he had glamour. The C.O., Malone, was an alcoholic.”

“We had to deal with local fellows robbing and infringing orders – two in particular. The Adjutant General in Dublin said, ‘OK, I have the keys of Mountjoy’, and sent a senior officer by train to collect them, take them back up by train and march them via O’Connell Street to Mountjoy. He turned out to be Sean MacBride, then a young-looking 18 with the rank of Captain – just a little whippersnapper, with a strong French accent. We were very annoyed. That he was such a youth was bad enough, but a Frenchman was the last straw! And he was all in arms with bandoliers – can you imagine what we in civvies thought when he turned up? But he was tough enough.”

“There were few disturbances really.* the N. Fusiliers didn’t manhandle us or be abusive. I couldn’t say a word against them. They weren’t popular, but certainly weren’t unpopular. Our vindictiveness concentrated on the Auxiliaries and the Black and Tans. (One Black and Tan had been hanged by the British for a murder in Baltinglass.) For the 3 days of taking over Carlow Barracks, I was the officer sent [from Ducketts Grove]. We had lunch at the Royal Hotel, sitting at different tables. We never shook hands. The quartermaster with the inventory showed me through every room of the barracks, stables included, locked the door and and handed me the keys. I signed for them, and my lot marvelled at the way I could sign. The soldiers left the barracks in good condition. Next day we marched [in] by arrangement and the military presented arms as we did so. When we had settled in, we then presented arms to them as they marched out. We entered the barracks and the gates closed behind us. After the gate shut we held no private ceremony; just went to our allotted places. We were a scratch lot – a motley crowd – with a funny collection of arms, an assortment of guns and equipment. We had a few short Lee Enfield rifles, some long Lee Enfields, and a couple of Mausers. I myself shouldered a Le Henry rifle that probably last saw service long before the Boer War. We took over their lorries so we were able to carry on where they left off with what they had. Ducketts Grove itself was burned [some time] afterwards.”

LG notes: (1) Despite the fairly tranquil recollections of Lillis, and also Gen. Michael Costello, some minor ‘incidents’, as they would be called today, did occur. When the Northumberland Fusiliers arrived in June 1921, an army lorry waiting at the station to meet their 11.15am train was seized and burned out by armed men. Local girls had their hair cut for fraternizing with soldiers. A youth was found tied to the chapel gates with a placard reading ‘Convicted for aiding the enemy’.
(2) In Borris, the company (of the same regiment) stationed there couldn’t wait to leave. Did they shoot or fish at leisure, as it was claimed? “Not bloody likely,” snapped one officer subsequently. His wire cage was opposite the low wall of an estate belonging to the famous huntsman, Kavanagh, born without arms or legs, who rode on a specially constructed saddle with the reins clamped in his teeth. “After dark, Kavanagh’s middle-aged son would slip across the road in carpet slippers to dine with us, terrified but lonely. We probably did him an injustice to invite him at all.” A couple of subalterns were drinking in a pub further down the street, despite a warning notice, when a rifle was pointed at them from Kavanagh’s wall.
(3) Back in Carlow early in 1922, after the Truce, sergeants from the First Battalion were relaxing over a pint in a local hotel – unarmed, as agreed by the terms – when a group of Sinn Fein “armed to the teeth” walked in. One held up his glass and drank loudly “to the denigration of His Majesty and the British soldiers with language not fit for reproduction”. The sergeants left, swearing beneath their breath.
(4) Chink Dorman-Smith whipped in, however, with the Carlow Hounds, and hunt subscriptions accounted for half the annual income of any hunt within riding distance of a garrison. Stand takings at the Curragh and Punchestown were comfortably padded out by Army money, and £100,000 a month was circulated in the garrison district. The Truce meant that all garrison towns were about to be financially hit.


January 30 (Monday): ‘The 1st Battalion of the Royal Northumberland Fifth Fusiliers travelling in “motorised transport” were escorted by the Irish Republican Police from the Military Barracks to the Deighton Memorial Hall in Burrin Street to attend and perform at two Farewell Concerts. The Deighton Hall was packed out for the performances and a crowd assembled outside. Years later Archie Breen and Alfie King liked to recall how the people from”the Lanes ” gathered outside the Hall and sang along with the St. George’s Minstrels and the Army Band such old Music Hall favourites as “Don’t Dilly Dally on the Way” , “Down at the Old Bull and Bush”, “Hello Hello”, “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” “A Mother’s Lament” and a selection of Operatta and Percy French songs and finally ” Come Back to Erin Mavoureen, Mavoureen”. Mr. Governey kindly supplied a few dozen crates of beer which was shared by all inside and out. This was among the last “official” acts of the British Army in Carlow until twelve days later when they would formally hand over Carlow Military Barracks to the Irish Free State Army.’

[Note added by Michael Purcell 2010. It must have been some sight to witness a battalion of the British Army in convoy travelling through the streets of Carlow protected by I.R.A. men!]

January:Duckett’s Grove! The very name is certain to be a tradition in these districts. Only once had I occasion to visit the mansion, and I certainly had some emotion when I saw our flag floating over the turret. I offered a sentry a cigarette but he refused and I admired the discipline. There were old field pieces, but they were for ornament and not use. The statues were reminiscent of the Kildare Street Museum and Greek civilization. I paid some attention to a statue of a Greek goddess which would make a fine symbol of a resurgent Erin. I visited one of the prisoners, and he had absolutely nothing to say about the diet. It was good and compared very favourably with the Rath or Ballykinlar. “Tatler”. [112]

[Michael Purcell adds that at this time, Liam Stack and fellow officers were in residence at Ducketts Grove, training the Irish Army out there. The statues ‘Tatler’ refers to were used by the soldiers for target practice. The prisoner had been arrested by the Irish Republican Police and was being held in custody at Duckett’s Grove, pending the handing over of the Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks in Carlow town. Members of Cumann na mBan looked after the cooking and cleaning.]

January: The following letter was published in the Nationalist  at a time when the whole country (excluding the Gentry) was in turmoil and heading rapidly towards civil war.

Letter to the Editor:
Dear Sir,
Dancing at the moment seems to be “all the go ” right over the country. Almost everyone, young, old, and middle-aged, have gone literally speaking, dancing mad ; and to take an illuminating example, one need only scan the weekly provincial papers to see announcement after announcement of Balls, Dances, wax polished floors and city Jazz Bands ; and in many parts they dance from dark to dawn , every night of the week in a different centre, and need never leave the parish to do so. Sincerely, Glana (name and address with editor). [113]

Michael Purcell and Jean Casey forwarded me the following account from January 1922 which, as Mr. Purcell notes, ‘records the concerns of the Gentry during this period who, as ever with their finger on the pulse of the nation, outline their priorities two days after the treaty was signed!’ While Kate Rathdonnell and her ladies were still puzzling over what to get Princess Mary for her wedding, as published weekly in the Nationalist at this time, Liam Stack, IRA Commandant, issued the following:

A collection is presently being made by the Carlow Brigade, Irish Republican Army, to raise funds to enable the army and police force to carry out its duties in connection with the preservation of order and protection of the public until such time as the Irish Government is in a position to take over same. The support of prisoners is presently costing £10 per day. The necessity for making arrests is quite evident if the public is to be freed from gangs who are operating for the purposes of loot. Liam Stack (Commandant).

The following week, now early February, The Nationalist gallantly continued to update readers on the quest for a gift for Princess Mary which, as Mick says, is a case of the gentry ‘fiddling away’!

Lisnavagh, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow.
Sir — At a Committee meeting held at the Vice-Regal Lodge at which her Excellency, Lady Fitzalan, presided, it was decided to carry on the collections for the above object till February 20th, the twenty-six counties in Southern Ireland are all organised, but some have only recently begun their collections. — Faithfully yours, K. A. RATHDONNELL.

(It is to be noted that in the first letter, the house was spelled ‘Lisnevagh’ and in the second, ‘Lisnavagh’).

February 4: Death in a nursing home in Edinburgh of Maurice, 6th Duke of Leinster, after a prolonged illness. His younger brother Lord Edward FitzGerald succeeded as 7th Duke. Lord Edward was an officer in the West Riding Regiment, in which he served during the Great War. Maurice’s death marked the start of a difficult era for the FitzGerald family, being swiftly followed by the deaths of his three uncles – Lord Walter in August 1923 and both Lord Freddie and Lord George in early 1924.

Feb 7: ‘The IRA respond [to arrest of Monaghan football team] by kidnapping forty-two prominent loyalists in Fermanagh and Tyrone and held them as hostages. A party of eighteen armed B-Specials travelling by train to Enniskillen were stopped at Clones railway station in Co Monaghan by an IRA group. The B-Specials reacted immediately by shooting Commander Fitzpatrick. His colleagues retaliated by fatally shooting four Specials and arresting the survivors. Trouble in the North was at boiling point and in the three days after the Clones incident thirty people were murdered in Belfast.’ [114]

February 11 – “Military Leaving Carlow. BARRACKS TAKEN OVER. Early in the week one hundred men of the Northumberland Fusiliers left Carlow, and during later days the remainder took their leave. In the meantime the stores, etc. had been auctioned and removed. It was at first stated that the formal taking over of the Barracks by the Irish Republican Army would take place on Tuesday morning, but the function was postponed till the following afternoon at 3 o’clock. Then 5 o’clock was mentioned. A large crowd had assembled in town, and there was much enthusiasm. The band of the Fianna was in readiness. However , shortly after noon on Thursday the Barracks were taken over, Brigade-Commandant Liam Stack, was accompanied by several of the local staff, and the general appearance of the occupying detachment reflected credit on the Commandant and all concerned.[1] The detachment left the Town Hall for the Barracks. A large number had assembled . Apart altogether from the processional display there was a large assemblage at the barrack gate, and when the well appointed men of the I.R.A. passed through the portals a ringing cheer went up. No doubt the scene was heartening. Carlow Military Barracks –one of the oldest in Ireland — was taken over by the forces of the Irish Nation. A large Sinn Fein flag was hoisted over the central entrance, and before a good many people understood the significance and historicity of the scene the crowd had dispersed. Perhaps one of the best comments on the incident was passed by one old lady who tearfully exclaimed in accents full of sincerity : “Thanks be to God” . So say we all.” [115]

Feb 4: The parallel universe continues with this account in The Nationalist:

‘CONCERT IN CARLOW. A variety entertainment in aid of the Carlow Hunt Covert Fund was held in the Town Hall, Carlow, on Wednesday 4th February. The different items were very well received, particularly the sketch entitled “Dead Men’s Shoes” by the members of the Carlow Choral Society. Both the matinee and evening performances was fairly well attended. We congratulate Miss Pack Beresford who organised the entertainment on its success.’

Early Feb: British armed forces known as The Auxiliaries depart Carlow Military Barracks, followed a day later by the Black and Tans. The regular British Army departed later in the week. According to the Nationalist:

The Exodus. That section of the Royal Irish Constabulary, ” popularly” known as ” The Black and Tans ” left Carlow on Monday evening. The departure was witnessed in idle curiosity. Some of the departees were in unusually good spirits, and cheered lustily as they took a last look at the Carlow Barracks.”

A similar report transcribed by Michael Purcell described the departure of the Gay Gordons from Portlaoise.

The 2nd Gordon Highlanders evacuated Portlaoighise Military Barracks on Friday week and left for Glasgow by two special trains, the first carrying baggage and equipment, and an advance guard of 3 officers and 92 men. The second train carried the remainder of the detachment, viz: 14 officers and 292 men. They were played to the Railway Station by their pipers, playing the air “Old Comrade”. The departure of the first lot was witnessed by only a few civilians, but the main body received the farewells of a crowd of weeping maidens and some other residents, including a number of the Royal Irish Constabulary. A few of the “Gay Gordons” were particularly gay on the night before they left for Bonnie Scotland, and indulged in some frivolities including the breaking of windows, and the smashing of some of the little stone pillars outside Mr. Turpin’s residence in Coote Street. It is fair to say however, that these were the acts of only a few men, and the townspeople say that the general behaviour of the men of the regiment was much better than that of some of the English soldiers who previously garrisoned the town. Outside the small circle who reaped some financial advantage from the presence of the troops there was a general feeling of satisfaction and rejoicement at their leaving.’

Paddy McLogan, known then as Captain McLoughlin, was officer commanding the regiment of the Free State Army in Portlaoise. [116]

Feb 7: The Garrison proper of the Barracks, Headquarters and Y Company, marched out at 08.00 on 7th February. Before departure steps were taken to render it impossible for the tricolour of the Republic to be displayed from the place formerly sacred to the Flag of the Union, and during the night the flagstaff was snapped off at a point where it proruded above the Barrack gateway. The Detachment was played to the station by the Band. The early hour precluded any great demonstration of dislike or regret. Almost might we have departed unobserved, save for the attentions of a few of the great unwashed who waved tricolour flags, booed, hissed and cheered.’ [117]

February, late: The RIC began evacuating their barracks and concentrating in central holding areas. This finished around April, with the last of the ‘Guard’ remaining at the Castle until the final handover.

Feb: With no police force or national army formally established in the new Free State, the 26 Counties slips into a state of anarchy and lawlessness with many robberies, score-settling and crimes of all kinds being committed daily. A Republican Police Force was doing its best to maintain order. Republican Courts were set up to administer justice. The first Republican Court session authorized by the Irish Free State Government was held in Carlow Court House in February 1922, with Adjudicators appointed in place of Magistrates and Judges. [118]

February: “During the week I had occasion to visit the Carlow Military Barracks [then occupied by the Irish Free State Army under the command of Commandant Liam Stack], and I was very much impressed by the type of young Irish soldiers I saw there. I knew some of them , and if the rest of the National Army are of the same type there need be no fear of the future. But apart from this , I must admit that whoever is responsible for the care of the buildings are to be congratulated. Carlow Military Barracks to-day are cleaner and “more hygienic” than in the days when the British Army of Occupation was quartered there. And again, the officers N.C.O.s and men were polite, with that politeness which is racy of the soil, not the cool, suspicious and formal politeness which I experienced during the last few years when duty forced me to the gate of Carlow Military Barracks.” [119]

‘On Sunday in glorious weather the above took place at the Polo Grounds, Browne’s Hill, Carlow. From about 10.30 the various contingents poured into the town from all parts of the Brigade Area in Wicklow, Carlow, Laois and Kildare accompanied by several bands. A special train was run from Borris, which conveyed Volunteers from the southern portions of the county. It was the first Sunday train run on this line for a very considerable time.
The scene at Browne’s Hill was a memorable one. Thousands of spectators who had travelled by motors, bicycles etc , from all parts of the adjoining counties witnessed the review. The various battalions were formed up in several lines reaching the full length of the field. They presented a very smart military appearance which reflected the greatest credit on the various commandants. About 3.30 the lines were inspected, and afterwards to the strains of the Carlow Fianna Pipers, followed by the Boy Scouts, the several contingents reformed and marched into the town. Notwithstanding the huge gathering, which was undoubtedly the largest ever seen in Carlow, the utmost order prevailed, owing to the excellent arrangements which were carried out by the Irish Republican Police. The companies were dismissed by their officers at various points in the town. The following bands were present – Graiguecullen Flute and Drum Band, Carlow Fianna Pipers, Rathvilly Pipers and Clashganny Pipers.
[The Review – probably from the Carlow Nationalist but reproduced without attribution in the Regimental Magazine, St. George’s Gazette – was to be the last time the former comrades assembled in such large numbers in harmony and friendship. In the months following this Review the “Spilt” occurred and many of the volunteers faced and shot at each other during the War of Brothers. Upon seeing the thousands that assembled in February 1922 to attend this I.R.A. review , Martin ‘Scorcher’ O’Neill commented,” the membership of the Irish Republican Army has increased two hundred-fold since the British soldiers left “, and indeed it had. In the following decades “membership” of the Old I.R.A. (as the organisation became known ) would continue to increase. [120]

With regard to the approaching Civil War, Michael Purcell writes:

The Irish Free State Army at this time was split in its loyalty to the Free State Government. Many of those who joined were supportive of the Treaty but another section strongly opposed the Treaty, two opposing armies were emerging. As a Brigade or Unit formed its loyalty from the majority of the soldiers in it, the soldiers opposed to their views would leave and join a different Unit where “republican” views prevailed. Soon whole Brigades and Units throughout Ireland were pro-Treaty or anti-Treaty. Most Commanders took their orders from the Free State Minister for Defence, Richard Mulcahy, the anti-Treaty people still owed their allegiance to Cathal Brugha, who had just resigned as Minister for Defence, and to de Valera who had resigned as President, all were preparing for resistance to the implementation of power by the pro-Treatyites. Barracks were taken over from the departing British army by local units with the result that in some areas the Military Barracks were in the control of a pro-Treaty garrison, in others anti-Treaty soldiers were in possession. During February 1922 clashes were occurring between the two forces, arms, ammunition, armoured cars and transport were taken from one side by the other as arrests and counter arrests were made. No one knew it at the time but the demarcation lines were been laid for the Civil War. To make matters more confusing the Irish Free State Army was also known as “the National Army” “the Dail Troops” “the Republican Army” “the Regulars” ” Beggars Bush Troops” or simply “the Staters” whereas those who opposed the Treaty managed to retain the title “Irish Republican Army” sometimes called ” the Irregulars”. I should add that many of the men who joined the Irish Free State Army in 1922 did so because unemployment was rife. Most were unpolitical neither pro- or anti-Treaty, some even had pro-British loyalties. Many served out their time in the Defence Forces owing allegiance only to the elected government of the day.”

Feb 21: Sir Henry Wilson elected unopposed as a Unionist MP for North Down and becomes military adviser to the new Northern Irish government.

Feb 22: The Countess of Desart’s home at Desart Court, County Kilkenny, is burned down.

February 28: MILITARY LEAVING CARLOW. BARRACKS TAKEN OVER. The following information was provided by Lavinia Greacen:

“Early in the week one hundred men of the Northumberland Fusiliers left Carlow, and during later days the remainder took their leave. In the meantime the stores, etc., had been auctioned and removed. It was at first stated that the formal taking over of the Barracks by the I.R.A. would take place on Tuesday morning, but the function was postponed till the following afternoon at 3 o’clock. Then 5 o’clock was mentioned. A large crowd had assembled in town, and there was much enthusiasm. The band of the Fianna was in readiness.”

“However, shortly after noon on Thursday the Barracks were taken over, Brigadier-Commandant Stack having been previously handed over possession of the premises. During the actual taking over Commandant Stack was accompanied by several of the local Staff, and the general appearance of the occupying detachment reflected credit on the Commandant and all concerned.”

“The detachment left the Town Hall for the Barracks. A large number had assembled. Apart altogether from the processional display, there was a large assemblage at the Barrack Gate, and when the well-appointed men of the I.R.A. passed hrought the portals a ringing cheer went up. No doubt the scene was heartening. Carlow Military Barrcks – one of the oldest in Ireland – was taken over by the forces of the Irish nation.”

“A large Sinn Fein flag was hoisted over the central entrance, and before a good many people understood the significance and historicity of the scene, the crowd had dispersed. Perhaps one of the best comments on the incident was passed by one old lady who tearfully exclaimed in accents full of sincerity: “Thanks be to God.” So say we all.”’

As the British Army withdraw from Ireland, members of the Irish Republican Army make an inventory of the contents of the Military Barracks in Carlow, left behind by the British. [121] It did not include “57 unemptied piss-pots” which the Northumberland Fusiliers also left behind.

March: With the Irish Republican Police doing their best to maintain order a recruitment drive was under way for the new Civic Guard to replace the Royal Irish Constabulary. Despite the turbulent times that were prevailing the Free State government had made a decision not to arm the new police force. As the Nationalist reported:

A fine lot of strapping intelligent young men were in Carlow early this week for the purpose of being examined in respect of the new police force with will be known as the Civic Guard. The new type Civic Guard is a good one. I happen to know a few of the candidates, and if the rest are equal or nearly equal, it should be plain
sailing. In those places where barracks are in ruins it is obviously necessary that some vacant building should be availed. Any police force is intended to see that the laws made by the nation are kept, and no human law is binding unless it has the sanction of the people ; and no police force can expect the support or confidence of the people’s representatives.’
 The Nationalists’ Tatler correspondent simultaneously noted that: ‘The campaign of highway robbery and burglary in Carlow is now stopped thanks to the activity of the Irish Republican Army and the Irish Republican Police in the various districts. The gangs were availing of the Truce and the Inter-regnum to carry on, but failed.’ [122]

March: ‘With the Regular British Army, the Black and Tans and the Auxiliaries already departed, the members of the Royal Irish Constabulary were the last branch of the British administration in Ireland to vacate their barracks and disband. This account from the Nationalist has a “happy ending”.’

On Saturday the Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks at Baltinglass was evacuated and the police took their departure accompanied by an armed escort. Similar scenes were witnessed in Tullow and Bagenalstown on Monday, the men being conveyed to Carlow where the evacuation of the Carlow R.I.C. Barracks took place on Wednesday. The police left Carlow accompanied by a military escort, equipped with rifles, machine guns and an armoured car. There were several lorries and a small crowd witnessed the departure of the men. The various barracks were subsequently taken over by the Irish Republican Army and the Irish Republican Police. About 12.30 on Wednesday a motor car belonging to the District Inspector of the Royal Irish Constabulary [which] was left on the street opposite the Royal Hotel in Dublin Street, disappeared while the Inspector and his driver were inside the hotel. Inquiries failed to discover the whereabouts of the car. The Republican Police are investigating the matter.’

March 4: (Saturday) Death in London of Tom Rathdonnell’s daughter-in-law, Ethel McClintock Bunbury, grandmother to the present Baron Rathdonnell.

March 4: Royal Irish Constabulary withdraw from their base at the hospital building in Baltinglass. [124]

March 7: Announcement of Ethel’s death in The Times:

‘McCLINTOCK BUNBURY.–On the 4th March, in London. ETHEL SYNGE. wife of CAPTAIN the Hon. T. L. McClintock Bunbury and daughter of the late Robert Wilson Ievers, C.M.G., and of Mrs. Ievers, Anuradhapura. Ceylon. Funeral at Brookwood Cemetery tomorrow (Wednesday), leaving the Necropolis Station, 121 Westminster Bridge-road. at 11.50 a.m.’ [125]

March 8: Ethel McClintock Bunbury’s funeral at Brookwood in Surrey. Attempts by the family to relocate her grave in May 2014 were unsuccessful. It was apparently in Plot 75.

Tom Rathdonnell’s daughter Pauline Dalgety (née McClintock Bunbury)
photographed in the London studio of Bassano on 5 April 1922.

March 24:  At a meeting of the Killeshin Cumann Sinn Fein, a resolution was passed unanimously that there be no elections until a new register be procured and men and women from 18 years of age be entitled to a vote and that a copy of the resolution be sent to President de Valera, President Griffith and Michael Collins, Chairman of the Provisional Government. (signed) Patrick Purcell. [126]

March 26: IRA convention at the Mansion House in Dublin, with Liam Mellows presiding over 211 elected delegates, pro- and anti-Treaty alike. Munster and Connacht, where most of the fighting 1919-1921 took place, were strongly represented. The Convention passed the following resolution:

“That the Army reaffirms its allegiance to the Irish Republic. That it shall be maintained as the Army of the Irish Republic under an Executive appointed by the Convention. That the Army shall be under the supreme control of such Executive which shall draft a Constitution for submission to a Convention to be held on 9th April.”

The terms outrage anti-Treaty sympathisers. Three days later, the new Republican weekly paper ‘Poblacht na hÉireann – the Republic of Ireland’ asked:

“Under what childish illusions did Mr Griffith and Mr Collins labour when they supposed that they could carry with them in their policy of surrendering the Republic the Army which made the Republic and regards its maintenance as a sacred trust?”

March 29: Members of the Cobh IRA company capture Upnor, a British arms ship, at Ballycotton. The Cork IRA felt that Michael Collins was living it up a little too much between his pints at Devlin’s and the Gresham and the races. They were also bitter that so little of the money he brought in from the National Loan had been converted into weapons for the Cork IRA. For his part, Collins was livid that the Cork IRA under Seán O’Hegarty had executed Mrs Lindsay, a loyalist, without consulting the high command in Dublin. As such, they began to distance themselves from him, all of which set in motion further seeds for the Civil War. O’Hegarty then brilliantly orchestrated the seizure of the Upnor’s cargo, from under the nose of the hapless Vice-Admiral Ernest Gaunt (whose wife was a Martin of Gregans Castle). 1000 men, working flat out, secured a massive haul of 70 lorry-loads of weapons, including 200,000 rounds, 1,000 rifles 39 machines guns, revolvers, explosives etc. Churchill called it ‘brilliantly conceived’ adding ‘the Irish have a genius for conspiracy’. In total, it constituted what would be as much as 80 per cent of the Cork IRA’s arms stash on the eve of the Civil War. They would share some of this with the Kerry IRA, but most remained in the anti-Treaty Republic of Cork. The story is told by Tom Mahon in ‘The Ballycotton Job’ (Mercier, 2022).

March 30: Craig-Collins Pact signed in London; the Irish Free State formally recognised Northern Ireland government.

March: The new Duke of Leinster (Lord Edward FitzGerald), presented himself to the Irish Free State Government offering to help establish the newly founded Irish Army. His request was turned down. [127]

April: Start of Kellistown Races, County Carlow, on owned by the absent landlord Robert Doyne. The principal stewards were Mrs. Olive Hall M.FH. and Mr. O. H. Eustace Duckett M.F.H. They were called off in 1923 and 1924 due to the political scene, and on two other occasions, but otherwise ran smooth for the next 34 years.

April 14: Rory O’Connor leads 200 anti-Treaty forces to occupy the Four Courts in Dublin. Sean and Noel Lemass are with him.

April 26-29: The murder of 13 Protestant civilians in Dunmanaway, West Cork, raises fears among Southern Unionist community that the situation is becoming a conflict aimed at driving them out. Although both sides of the treaty debates condemn the killings, the commander of the British Navy in Cork Harbour stated on 29 April that ‘in view of what looks like the beginnings of a pogrom against the Protestants in the South, it may become necessary to send ships to evacuate Protestant loyalists from Southern seaports’. See Ellen McWilliams article, Dunmanway Fields: saying something to break the silence about a great local hurt (April 2022). See also the Bandon Valley Massacre by Frank Coughlan.

May 1: House of Commons hears calls for the British Army to restore order in Ireland.

May: Lord Dunkellin’s monument in Galway City is tipped into Galway Bay to the sound of the band playing ‘I’m forever blowing bubbles’.

May 20: Shane’s Castle burnt down by Republicans. Its owner Hugh O’Neill represented County Antrim in the first Parliament of Northern Ireland from 1921 to 1929, and was also its first Speaker. Hugh’s sister Rose married Captain Jack McClintock, RN, of Redhall in 1920. Another brother Arthur was killed in 1914.

June 1: The newly created Royal Ulster Constabulary takes over the policing of Northern Ireland.

June 3: Carroll v. Lord Rathdonnell.
The Lisnavagh car, driven by Walter Wood and carrying Lady Rathdonnell and one other, strikes a bicycle owned by Thomas P Carroll, No 1 St Dolough’s Terrace, Ranelagh, crushing it. The accident took place by Yeat’s where Nassau and Grafton Streets meet in Dublin, nearly opposite Suffolk Street. Mr Carroll, an employee of the Singer Machine Company, sued Lord Rathdonnell for his damaged bike, which made him unable to get to his workplace. The case was heard on 17 November. Walter denied he had been going any faster than walking speed when the accident happened, but the Judge found against him on the basis that cars should always keep clear of bicycles. At this time, Walter had been in Lord Rathdonnell’s employ for 14 years. It is curious that my late aunt Rosebud remembered seeing his body in the North-West passage of Lisnavagh when he died in the 1960s. Mr Carroll was given a decree for £11 4s 6d, with 10 guineas damages and £14s 6d expenses. Mr John Bartley (instructed by Messrs. O’Neill and Collins) appeared for Rathdonnells.

June 12: In Windsor Castle, King George V receives the colours of the six Irish regiments that are to be disbanded – the Royal Irish Regiment, the Connaught Rangers, the South Irish Horse, the Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment, the Royal Munster Fusiliers and the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. [128]

June 16: General Election in the Irish Free State gives a large majority to pro-Treaty Sinn Féin; the Third Dáil replaces what remains of the Southern Ireland institutions.

June 22: Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson is assassinated. A staunch Unionist and former colleague of Churchill, he was shot outside his London home at 36 Eaton Place, Belgravia, by the celibate Reggie Dunne and the one-legged Joe O’Sullivan. Both men were captured, convicted of murder and hanged six weeks later. The historian Tim Pat Coogan described Sir Henry’s assassination as ‘one of the most indefensible, inefficient and hopelessly heroic deeds of its kind.’ He was the first sitting MP to be killed by assassins since Lord Frederick Cavendish in 1882, and the last until Airey Neave in 1979.  See Ronan McGreevy’s book ‘Great Hatred: The Assassination of Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson MP.

Dunne and O’Sullivan may have been acting of their own accord. Or they may have been following an order given by Collins some time previously. In 1953, Joe Dolan, one of Collins’s former intelligence staff, stated that Collins had given this order to Sam Maguire, head centre of the IRB cell in London, who he in turn passed it on to Dunne and O’Sullivan. Coogan also believes the order was given directly by Collins and delivered via Peg ni Braonain, a young Cumann naBan member. However, Collins denied giving the order. His supporters generally agree that he gave the order but, amid the excitement of the Treaty and ensuing debates, he either forgot or failed to cancel it. His detractors hold that Collins simply lied to save his skin, disowning Dunne and O’Sullivan in the process. Britain demanded vengeance for Sir Henry’s death. Dunne and O’Sullivan appear to have been acting in support of the anti-Treaty forces who, headed up by Rory O’Connor, had been occupying the Four Courts since mid-April.

June 22: Six months after the burning of Cork by the Royal Irish Constabulary Auxiliaries Division (ADRIC), the following official order was issued by Diarmuid O’ Hegarty, Adjutant-General, at the headquarters of the Irish Republican Army in Dublin. The unsigned order was issued to the Brigade Commander, Carlow Battalion, I.R.A. on 22nd June 1921.


  • You are authorised to answer reprisals against property on the part of the Enemy in the following way : (Where a Division has been formed Brigade Commandants will require to receive formal delegation of authority from their Divisional Commandants.)
  • On every occasion on which the Enemy destroys house property, or house contents, whether alleging military necessity or not, the following counter-reprisals may be taken:
    (a) A similar number of houses belonging to the most active enemies of Ireland may be destroyed in the Battalion area in which the original destruction takes place.
    (b) An equal number of houses belonging to the most active enemies of Ireland, may, in addition, be destroyed at that point in the Brigade area concerned which may be considered as the centre most strongly occupied by such enemies.
    (c) The case should be reported to G.H.Q. with a covering statement of what has been done; and with a view to possible further action.
    (d) Where the Enemy persists in taking counter-reprisals, they may be answered in the same way; stopping only when the district concerned has been entirely cleared of active enemies of Ireland.
  • Formal notice shall be served on any person whose house is so destroyed, stating clearly that it is a reprisal because of similar destruction carried out by their military forces; and specifying the particular property for whose destruction it is a reprisal.
  • In any particular case, or in any particular district in which, in addition to such reprisals, it would seem desirable that:
    (a) The members of any particular family concerned should be ordered out of the country ; or
    (b) have their lands confiscated – a special report should be submitted.
  • For the purposes of such reprisals no persons shall be regarded as enemies of Ireland, whether they may be described locally as Unionist, Orangemen, etc., unless they are actively anti-Irish in their actions.
  • No house shall be selected for destruction or destroyed without the personal approval and permission of the Brigade Commandant.
    By Order
    Adjutant-General.’ [129]

June 28: Six days after Sir Henry Wilson’s assassination, under pressure from London, Michael Collins ordered the Free State Army (with Major-General Dalton at the helm) to bomb the Four Courts, thus igniting the Civil War. For more see here. The Battle of Dublin lasts until 5 July.

July 2: (Sunday) Baltinglass Captured. ‘Just after 4 p.m. the seven National soldiers in [Baltinglass] Barracks surrendered, having exhausted their ammunition. Thus began the Irregulars’ occupation of Baltinglass.’ [130]

July 5Cathal Brugha shot; dies in Mater Hospital two days later. As fighting in Dublin concludes, the civil war will cost the city the lives of sixty-five combatants (16 government troops, 49 Anti-Treaty IRA), and 280 wounded (122 Free State, 158 IRA). Civilian casualties are thought to comprise over 250 killed and injured.

July 6: A Free State expeditionary force is sent to County Wexford to re-take the towns. It comprises 230 men under Colonel Commandant Keogh, with one field gun and four armoured vehicles. Two Anti-Treaty fighters are killed in a skirmish outside a pub in Urlingford, Co Kilkenny.

July 8 – The Republicans in Wexford abandon Enniscorthy and New Ross.

About 6 o’clock on Monday morning a party of Executive forces took up positions along the railway line at the rere of Carlow Military Barracks and made an attack on the building with rifle fire. The attack was promptly answered by machine- gun fire and the engagement lasted about twenty minutes when the attackers retired. So far as is known there were no casualties. Bullets from the attacking party actually struck the roofs of houses in the Numbers, Graiguecullen, more than a mile away. There was no sortie from the Barracks.’ [131]

July 17: (Monday) ‘Baltinglass Taken. In the morning, the Irish Army, under Major-General Dalton, Commandant-General Ennis and Commandant MacRae enter Baltinglass, taking 25 “Irregulars” prisoner and 40 rifles and revolvers. Dalton was nearly killed by a sniper – the steering wheel was blown out of his hands. MacRea was wounded. There was some confusion when Red Cross nurses helping were found to have a bunch of dum-dums and grenades on them. Tullow and Newtown Barry (Bunclody) were also occupied at this time.’ [132]

After five days occupation. Tullow, which was occupied by a party of Irregulars since Tuesday of last week, was completely isolated until about 9 o’c., on Saturday night, when the last batch of the Flying Column left the town.
There was a pronounced sense of relief and satisfaction manifest amongst the townspeople on Sunday, and it was not to be wondered at, considering the ordeal that a number of the inhabitants were subject to during those five or six days of stress and anxiety.
From inquiries made on the spot we are satisfied that the personal inconvenience and hardship to which some of the respectable residents of Tullow were subjected to did not happen by accident.
People who are well known to be Free-Staters were subjected to very bad treatment.
There was one case where a woman with six children had to clear out of her house in order to provide accommodation for some Irregulars.
Others were brought outside the town and forced to fell trees. Such treatment has created very bitter feeling in Tullow and the blame rightly or wrongly is placed on those who locally were known to be sympathetic towards the Irregular forces and who are now referred to as “Spotters”.
Such tactics, besides being unworthy of any army, native or foreign, are also unintelligent. A rival force entering a town or village subsequently where such regrettable incidents occur may, if they choose, resort to reprisals, but happily that has not occurred and we hope will not occur.
Many residents in Tullow, who take no interest in politics truly say that during the worst period of the Terror in Ireland they were not subjected to insult or molested by the Black and Tans.
It remained for their own countrymen to act the bully towards them and to deprive them of some of their property. On the other hand prominent residents in the town paid a tribute to the general conduct of the rank and file of the Irregulars, particularly the contingent from Tipperary. They knew nothing about the people of the district and they did nothing to which exception could be taken.
It may be that some of the incidents referred to were the acts of the irresponsible members of the force, but they were sufficient to being any army into disrepute.
Practically all the roads within a few miles of the town were blocked with trees. On the Castledermot road alone there were six trees lying across the road within a distance of half-a-mile, and opposite the Fever Hospital a temporary wall of large stones was erected. Other roads in the area were similarly obstructed.
On Sunday the Red Cross flag remained floating over Murphy’s extensive business premises at the Square. This was the only visible sign of the recent occupation by the Irregulars. About 7o’c. on Saturday evening news got about that the Flying Column was about to evacuate the town. There was much activity and the people who were hourly in dread and fear of an attack by the National forces all the week, were greatly relieved when all the troops commenced to leave about 8 o’c.
They broke into two parties, one going towards Shillelagh and the other going in the direction of Myshall. Their transport was very bad, and their supply of petrol was almost exhausted. The people of the town all day on Saturday expected an attack would be made by the National troops from Carlow.
They were very glad to be spared the scene of desolation and destruction which a clash between the two bodies would entail. By the end of the week food supplies were running short, and the town was threatened with a state of starvation.
The absence of news from the outside world had also a very depressing effect, no papers or letters being allowed in. Anybody who was unfortunate enough to enter the town had great difficulty in getting out again.
The bridge near Duckett’s Grove on the Castledermot road, which was in the course of re-construction by the County Council, was completely demolished on Friday night. All roads leading to Carnew were blocked by trees. It was stated that Balingate Bridge on the Clonegal road had been blown up. Ballintrane Bridge between Ballon and Carlow, which was a new cement temporary structure has been torn up.’ [133]

July 22: ‘Irregulars Lose Baltinglass.
Since gaining possession of the local barracks on Sunday, 2nd inst, the Irregulars occupied Baltinglass at varying strength. The customary activity prevailed, armed patrols, points of observation heavily guarded, motors “flying” constantly; everyone developed “nerves” and no wonder; it was indeed a trying time. The strength of the occupiers was evidently increased in the closing portion of last week. This was attributed to the evacuation of Tullow and some of the Wexford centres held by them.
On Sunday the misgivings and anxiety were added to when billeting on very many residents took place. The situation was anything but pleasant and the general feeling can be easily imagined.
The question of shutting down the business houses was practically decided —some merchants intended to keep open till the fair day had passed.
The inhabitants little thought when retiring on Sunday night that ere many of them would be up and doing next morning such a dramatic alteration would take place. The early risers were greeted with the whirr of an aeroplane, which circled the town three or four times before disappearing.
Rifle shots here and there clearly indicated that numerous outposts were vigilant. How far they “sized-up” the mission of the aeroplane must be imagined. Ere the civilian population was aware of it , a very strong force under Major-General Dalton and Commandant-General Ennis, in encircling order moved in, and the attack started.
Armoured cars moved through the streets ; volleys from the eastern hillside came in quick succession. A heavy section came into position from the Weaver Square end.
The Irregulars replied with sniping from various vantage points. The civilians had fled to whatever safety their homes or immediate surroundings afforded.
Though our information has been gleaned from reliable sources here and there, we cannot vouch for the absolute accuracy of all details. It was stated that the tower of the R.C. Church and the ruins of the Cistercian Abbey were used by snipers from the Irregular forces. Another statement made by different people was that flat-nosed bullets were in their possession.
For three hours the engagement continued; the end came with the surrender of all who had not slipped through the net.
The prisoners, were brought to the barrack and placed under guard. Their destination at the time of writing has not been published.
One of the officers of the National Forces was slightly wounded and one civilian.
Many touching incidents when the struggle was hottest are related. Tea was supplied by the residents to the National Troops wherever it could be done with any share of security. One or two cases are told where even danger did not deter the ladies from doing their bit in this respect, and it is noteworthy of mention that in the evening open house was freely made till every soldier was comfortably billeted.
The news of the result got abroad quickly; the evening train brought a number of buyers that earlier in the day had decided to remain away from the fair. With the roads still impassable it is not likely it will be anything like normal.’ [134]

‘Remarkable Discoveries.
The following official report was issued from G.H.Q., Irish Army, at 10.45 p.m., on Monday night:—
The troops have now occupied Baltinglass , Tullow, and Newtownbarry. Early this morning the convoy, which included Major-General Dalton, Comdt.-Gen. Ennis, and Comdt. MacCrea, entered Baltinglass.
The Irregulars, who fired first, and surrendered later, retreated to the south end of the town. During the fight the steering wheel of a car driven by Major-Gen. Dalton was blown away by a sniper.
Comdt. MacCrea was wounded in the wrist by the fire. At 2 p.m. the town was in the hands of the troops, who captured 25 prisoners, 40 rifles, 6 revolvers, and the store of bombs and ammunition.
“A doctor and three ladies in charge of a Red Cross station belonging to the Irregulars in the town gave their word of honour that no arms or ammunition were concealed in the building. When searched however, a bag of grenades was found by the troops on the premises. In consequence of this abuse a more thorough search of persons displaying the Red Cross was made.
One of the women found wearing the Red Cross badge carried papers belonging to a leader of the Irregulars in a dispatch case. Another woman (whose name is given ), also wearing the Red Cross badge, when examined by women searchers, was found to have ammunition concealed in her clothes.
“The ammunition found on the prisoners was nearly all dum-dum. When interrogated as to how they came to have such ammunition in their possession, several of the prisoners blamed those responsible for issuing their supplies’. [135]

July 22: ‘Death of Mr. Walter McM. Kavanagh.
We heartily regret chronicling the death of the Rt. Hon. Walter McMurrough Kavanagh, P.C., which very sad event occurred at his residence, Borris House, on Wednesday last. The death took which place suddenly, was the result of an accident. The late Mr. Kavanagh had reached the age of sixty six years, but for some time he had been in failing health, and latterly he had lost his eyesight. The late Mr. Kavanagh belonged to one of the oldest families in Ireland, being a direct descendant of the Kings of Leinster. He was the eldest son of the late Mr. Arthur McMurrough Kavanagh, M.P. He was educated at Eton and Oxford, and was a gentleman not only of culture, but of honour, personal and civic. Although brought up in a Unionist school, he gradually became a supporter of Nationalist principles, so much so that on the death of Mr. John Hammond he was unanimously selected a member for Carlow, and at the same time elected Chairman of the Carlow County Council, two honours, the highest in the gift of his fellow-countrymen. The honour was greater because Mr. Kavanagh belonged to the 
Church of the Minority. Most of our readers will remember that in 1910 Mr. Kavanagh resigned membership of the Irish Parliamentary Party owing to the Party’s support of Mr. Lloyd George’s financial policy, and also because he rightly objected to some of the Party’s policy regarding procedure. He was one of the most useful members of the local public boards, and even his political opponents held him in the highest esteem.
[Family lore holds that he fell into a pond in the yard at Borris and either clunked his head or caught pneumonia. The pond was filled in afterwards.]

Tom Rathdonnell pictured at the Dublin Horse Show, August 1922, by The Sketch.

August 5: Lord Rathdonnell convenes meeting of the Council of the Royal Dublin Society at the Council Chamber of Leinster House where they ‘fully considered the arrangements that had been made for the occupancy of a portion of Leinster House by the Government for Parliament, and approved of same’. [136]

August 12: Death of Arthur Griffith.

August 16: ‘Today the Royal Dublin Society’s Horse Show, which opened on Tuesday, came to its own in point of interest and attendance. The day held fine, though there was a lack of sunshine. A great deal was crowded into the day’s programme, as the show did not open until 2 p.m. as a mark of respect to the late Alr. Arthur Griffith, whose public funeral took place shortly after midday. The absence of a Viceregal party and many country contingents owing to railway transit difficulties was much regretted, as the Viceroy and his party always occupied a central position on the grand stand, where on this occasion few notabilities were seen. The members of the Royal Dublin Society mustered in great numbers, and Lord Rathdonnell and other important members of the council were noted.’ [137] As President of the Council, Tom was also pictured talking to Captain E. W. Hope-Johnstone on page 12 of the same day’s Times.

‘The Dublin Horse Show opened on Wednesday afternoon instead of in the morning, as a mark of respect to the late Mr. Arthur Griffith, whose funeral took place at Dublin that morning. The weather was all that could be desired. and the attendance was fairly good. Among well-known people to be seen in the enclosure were Viscount and Viscountess Powerscourt. the Countess of Fingall, Miss Sibyl Hamilton, Lord Rathdonnel [sic], Lord Ashtown, Lord Holmpatrick. Sir George Brooke, Sir Walter Buchanan, and Captain and Mrs. Wyndham-Quin.’ (Westminster Gazette – Saturday 19 August 1922).

August 22: Michael Collins assassinated . The man holding Collins head in his lap was Major-General Emmet Dalton (1898-1978), a veteran of the Somme and the man who seized Baltinglass from the Irregulars a month earlier.

How can I describe the feelings that were mine at that bleak hour’, he wrote, ‘kneeling in the mud of a country road not twelve miles from Clonakilty, with the still bleeding head of the Idol of Ireland resting on my arm.’

Dalton later went to Hollywood and founded Ardmore Studios, which produced ‘The Spy Who Came in From the Cold‘ and other films.

August 24: ‘WEDDING BELLS.
The marriage took place at Rathvilly Parish Church on Thursday 24th August, 1922, of the 
Rev. Ed. Gordon Campbell M.A., M.B., D.P.H., elder son of Edward Campbell and Mrs. Campbell, George’s Park, Urlingford, and Miss Clare Irene O’Callaghan, only surviving child of Rev. J. O’Callaghan, O.B.E., B.D., and Mrs. Callaghan, Rathvilly Rectory. The officiating clergymen were the Lord Bishop of Ossory, D.D., assisted by Rev. J.L. Dwyer, M.A., Baltinglass; Rev. George McKinley, M.A., Kilcooley, and the bride’s father. The church was beautifully decorated for the occasion by Mr. Charles Faulkner and the garden staff at Lisnavagh. The bride who was given away by Lieut-Col. Raymond, late R.A.V.C., wore a wreath and veil, and was prettily attired in a gown of ivory embroidered moracain and carried a sheaf of Madonna lilies. Her only ornaments were a gold and garnet necklace and pendant, the gift of Lord and Lady Rathdonnell. Her bridesmaid was her cousin, Mrs. Winifred Whitaker, who was dressed in a frock of delphinium blue crepe de chene, embroidered with tiny steel beads, and a black lace picture hat. She carried a bouquet of pink and white sweet peas and wore a gold slave bangle, the gift of the bridegroom. Dr. J.A. Acheson acted as best man. As the happy couple left the Church their path was strewn with rose petals.
Amongst those present at the Rectory after the ceremony were —
Lord and Lady Rathdonnell, Mr. L.H. and Mrs. Poe, Mrs. Heath, Mrs. and Miss Whitaker, Mrs and Miss Aileen Love, Mrs. Grant, Miss Green, Mrs. Price, The Bishop of Ossory, Col. Raymond, Rev. and Mrs. Ellison, Rev. and Mrs. J.L. Dwyer and Miss Dwyer, Rev. T.E. Young, Rev. J. Fairley, Dr. Acheson, Mr. Ed Campbell, Mrs. J.Y. Campbell, Rev. G. McKinley. The Bride and Bridegroom were the recipients of many beautiful and costly presents. Amongst those most highly valued being one from the women of Rathvilly village who have known the Bride since her childhood. The Rathvilly Church choir and some parishioners also from the residents of Lisnavagh District.’ [138]

Record of Rathdonnell attending Michael Collins funeral from Witness (Belfast) of Friday 1 September 1922.


Aug 28: Tom Rathdonnell attends Michael Collins funeral as a representative of the Royal Dublin Society, along with Professor Addenny, Mr D. R. Pack-Beresford and A.F. Morin. At this time, he had a chauffeur by name of Walter Wood. Perhaps Walter went for a few scoops in the Gravedigger while his lordship bowed the head : ) See funeral @ British Pathe report.

Mamie Bramwell (née McClintock Bunbury) pictured at the Dublin Horse Show, August 1922, by The Sketch.


Leinster House becomes the seat of Irish parliamentary democracy, although, strictly speaking, the house itself only accommodates the upper chamber of the Oireachtas; the lower chamber, Dáil Éireann, occupies an adjacent former lecture theatre of the Royal Dublin Society, commissioned in 1896. The late Kevin Bright, an expert on the history of the Royal Dublin Society, wrote to me in June 2014 regarding Lord Rathdonnell’s role in the handing over of Leinster House to the Irish Free State government:

“Early in 1922 overtures were made to the RDS for meeting facilities. The initiative appeared to come from General Michael Collins, through RDS member Lord Glenavy. As a result, the RDS agreed to relinquish the Lecture Theatre and some ancillary rooms for use by the government. That agreement came, it could only have come, through the RDS Council, of which Lord Rathdonnell was chairman. The new Dail Eireann of Saorstat Eireann met in the RDS in September 1922. By that time Collins was dead, killed in the ambush at Beal na mBlath. Part of Leinster House continued in government occupation in 1923 and on 28 June of that year W. T. Cosgrave, president of the Dail of the Irish Free State, convened a meeting with the RDS to request additional accommodation. The request was met at the cost of considerable disruption and dislocation to the RDS. In acknowledgement of this the Cosgrave administration made an offer in 1924 to buy out the RDS interest in Leinster House, and this was accepted. The completion of the move to Ballsbridge took place sometime in November 1924 and ended the RDS presence in Leinster House after almost 120 years.”

Tom Rathdonnell may have been rather nervous that he’d also handed over the colossal monument of Queen Victoria, as well as John Henry Foley’s Prince Albert which stood at the entrance and garden fronts respectively.

September 13: Agamemnon, red roan, calved at Lisnavagh, sire Zara’s Lord, dam Lisnavagh Anna.

Sept 20 (Wed): Lady Rathdonnell attends wedding in Howth of Brevet-Major Arthur Weyman, MC, 1st Leicestershire Regiment, and Miss Joyce Annette Pack-Beresford, only daughter of Mr and Mrs Reynell Pack-Beresford of Auburn House, Athlone. [139]

“Quite a gay crowd of guests attended the wedding and thronged the hall see the newly wedded pair drive away. Several of the bridegroom’s relatives crossed to Ireland for the event, and officers of his regiment, including Colonel Chaloner, were present to wish him joy. Lady Holmpatrick and her son and daughter motored from Abbotsford; Lady Rathdonnell was present with a party; Mrs. Pakenham Law and some members of her family came from Elsinore, and General and Mrs. Browne Clayton were prominent guests.” [140]

On the night of the 17th September a gang of masked and armed men calling themselves Republicans, visited Lumclone House, gaining admittance by repeated knocks and sinister threats. They first demanded food and then under the pretext of searching for arms they confined the household to one room, and ransacked the house for nearly three hours, when they decamped with their booty of clothes, leggings, watches, camera, and bicycles, etc.’ [141]

September 22: ‘A well-known Carlow Irregular, J. Fenelon, called and asked for full particulars of the raid. That very day he had the gang rounded up and practically all the stolen property was returned – the same night through his instrumentality. It is truly disgraceful that such deeds are done and repeatedly being done in this neighbourhood under the cloak of the Irish Republican Army.’ [142]

September: During the past week extensive raids by National (Free State) troops were carried out by night on dwelling houses situated at Rathvilly, Tombeigh, Knocklisheen, Broughillstown and Rathmore. The troops were in quest of Irregulars (I.R.A), but none were discovered. Amongst the houses visited was that of Mrs Barry, Tombeigh [sic], mother of the Irish martyr, Kevin Barry.

September: Railway Bridge Destroyed. On Sunday night, after destroying the railway bridge at the Gold Links, Bagenalstown station, armed men took the train from the Bagenalstown station and setting the engine in motion, tender foremost, the train ran with rapid speed and dashed into the broken bridge where it got embedded. Two of the carriages were telescoped by the impact and badly damaged. [143]

Oct 27-31: Mussolini’s Fascists march on Rome and take power in Italy.

Oct 24: Three Free State soldiers are killed in an ambush at Graney, County Kildare, and five wounded. Their tender is ambushed on the road from Castledermot to Baltinglass.

November 17: Lord Rathdonnell successfully sued by Thomas Carroll for the loss of his bicycle in a car accident in Dublin on 3 June. The car was driven by Walter Wood, who was still chauffeur in the 1960s and for whom Walter’s Paddock at Lisnavagh is named. In March 2019, I asked my father if Walter was an Irishman. He responded:

‘Irishman, I do not know but he was a Protestant and reputedly began employment here as a gardener (one of 8!). Presumably showing some mechanical or engineering ability, he became chauffeur and was even sent to Derby to do the Rolls Royce Course, although that must have been much later. Somewhere along the line he married one of the housemaids (so Cran was not the first!); he and Susan lived in the Laundry House which when I was a child was a glory of lovely flowers, most unusual in those days. They had a daughter who was in contact with us some years back.
When not tinkering with the cars, we only had two, the Rolls and a Ford van, Walter became a sort of “fixit” which he did from a large workshop on the north side of the Stable Yard, now two smart bedrooms. Apart from metal and timber repairs and of course the house in general, he converted all the gas lamps for electricity in 1952.
Shortly after that, when I was with Walter in his workshop, we hatched a plot. I approached my father with a request to go to the Curragh races on Saturday.
“There is no racing on Saturday, it is at Baldoyle”, he retorted.
“Not horses, motor cars” says I, “Walter say he will take me”.
So it was that he and I set off in the van for the point on the Curragh which is now Junction 12 on the M7; then it was a sharp bend where the racing cars passed on their way from the Camp towards Kildare. I cannot remember whether we had a racecard but there was a small crowd there and Walter seemed to know what was going on. Every few minutes another noisy car sped round the bend; there were no mishaps, probably as well since I do not recall any protection for the viewers. One wonders now could one of them have been Dudley Colley? On the journey home we stopped, possibly at The Priory, where Walter kindly gave me a glass of pop whilst he had a whiskey!
I think Susan must have predeceased him because my last memories, c1959 but it must be recorded somewhere, were of bringing him a nightcap (more whiskey) when he was living in what shortly after became my office in the North West Passage and is now restored back into Emily’s kitchen. He died soon after and I am almost certain is buried in St. Mary’s in Rathvilly.’

My late aunt Rosebud recalled Walter as:

‘… a sweet man who managed to drive Nanny and I around without making me that car sick, which was either due to his excellent driving or the suspension of the Rolling Pin! I also remember Mr Wood as he was to me, dying in what is now the sitting room in the flat … Nanny nursed him to his last, and I remember vividly my mother pouring a bottle of Guinness for the undertaker and telling me to take it through the doors with the round windows, which led to the Servants quarters in those days, and I stalled badly at the doors, I froze, I just couldn’t face what they might be doing to Mr Wood …so I failed and Mummy had to take it through….I was 7!!’

“BICYCLE OWNER WINS. – Before Mr. Justice Samuels, sitting without a jury, the case of Carroll v. Lord Rathdonnell was heard. It was an action bought by Mr. Thomas P. Carroll of No. 1, St. Dolough’s Terrace, Ranelagh, against the Right Hon Thomas Kane McClintock Bunbury, Baron Rathdonnell, of Lisnavagh, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, to recover damages for injuries to the plaintiff’s bicycle and other expenses sustained by the plaintiff by reason of the alleged negligence of the defendant, his servants or agents, the driving and management of a motor car in Grafton Street, Dublin, on 3rd of June last.
Mr Justice Samuels gave the plaintiff a decree for £11 4s. 6d., being 10 guineas damages and 14/6 expenses. He pointed out that it was the duty of the car following the walking bicycle to keep clear of it, and remarked that the unfortunate accident was one of those things that would occur on the best regulated streets and to some of the best regulated motor-cars and bicycles. Mr. H. Hamilton (instructed by Mr. A. Lane-Joynt) appeared for the plaintiff; and Mr. John Bartley (instructed by Messrs. O’Neill and Collins) for the defendant.’

November 25: Marcus Garvey delivers a lecture in New York explaining the objectives of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, the organization that he believed would lead the worldwide movement toward black liberation. Born in Jamaica, he started the Black Star Line, a shipping line to rival the White Star Line; the black star in the Ghanaian flag  is a legacy of the company, which Malcolm X’s parents worked for. However, the FBI – not least a young J Edgar Hoover – brought Garvey’s Black Star Line crashing down because it was too much of a threat to have this thriving business run by a black entrepreneur pushing civil rights agenda… Garvey was found guilty of mail fraud and sentenced to five years in prison.

November 24: Erskine Childers executed.

December 6: The Constitution of the Irish Free State goes into effect. William T. Cosgrave becomes President of the Free State Executive Council (Prime Minister). Timothy M. Healy is appointed Governor General replacing the last Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Viscount Fitzalan of Derwent, as His Majesty’s representative.

December 7: Free State Deputy Sean Hales is killed and Deputy Padraic O’Malley is wounded in a Dublin shooting.

December 8: Justice Minister Kevin O’Higgins orders the summary execution of four Republicans taken prisoner at the Four Courts; Rory O’Connor, Liam Mellows, Richard Barrett and Joseph McKelvey, in retaliation for the murder of Free State deputy Sean Hales. The Cosgrave government executes 76 republican prisoners during the next six months.

December 12: Governor General Timothy Healy reads the Throne Speech to Dail Eireann. The address calls for an amnesty of acts committed by British troops in Ireland prior to the truce ending the Anglo-Irish War.

Chairman of Board of Governors — The Right Rev. Dr. Day, Bishop of Ossory.
Secretary of Board of Governors — The Right Hon. Lord Rathdonnell, H.M.L.
School will re-open after Xmas Holidays on 16th January. Healthy situation and home comforts.
For terms apply to — Mr. or Mrs. W. R. Price, at the School. [144]

December 19: Seven men, including 24-year-old James O’Connor from Bansha, Co Tipperary, a great uncle of Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald, executed at the Glasshouse in the Curragh Camp. They had been discovered in a hideout at Mooresbridge on the edge of the Curragh six nights earlier and charged with “possession without proper authority” of weapons. An eighth man was beaten to death on the spot.




Application by Christopher Donohue of Chapel Lane, Rathvilly.

In 1934, the I.R.A. Old Comrades’ Association received a number of applications from former members seeking an “allotment of land” from various estates. Among these were John Fenlon and Christopher Donohue, who both served with D-Company, 3rd Battalion, Carlow Brigade, during the Revolution. Their forms were signed by JJ Byrne [Burns?], battalion secretary, on 20 October and 26 November 1934 respectively. A third application, undated, was submitted by George Faulkner, who had served with the same company.

John Fenlon started his service with D-Company in July 1920. At the time of his application, he described himself as a 50-year-old bachelor and small farmer who held 14 acres at Williamstown, Rathvilly, which he had “experience in working.’ He sought 22 acres in the townland of Moanavoth and Ballyoliver, from Lord Rathdonnell’s estate, as well as ‘Brewster’s estate at Coole.’ His property was “1/4 mile from Moanavoth. Valuation £14. Annuity £6.9.11. I am able to pay rates and annuities etc. Holding worked by tillage and grazing. Number of cattle in my possession, 5.”

Christopher Donohue served with the company from 1917 to 1923. At the time of his application, he was living at Chapel Lane, Rathvilly. He described himself as a 55 years old ‘landless man who seeks a small farm of 10 acres.’ He stated that he had ‘a lifetime experience of working the land,’ and that he would be able ‘to stock and equip’ the 10 acres he sought from Lord Rathdonnell’s estate at Rathvilly [which was] about half mile distance from residence.’

George Faulkner, of Garrettstown, Rathvilly, applied for 40 acres of land in Rahill, Rathvilly. He was married but living with his parents at the time of his application. He was with D-Company from 1917 to 1922; a note on his form states: “Drove car June (Jan?) 1920, wounded, excellent service.” He wrote: ‘I have means to work about 40 acres. Cottier living 1/4 mile from estate. I have experience in working with farmers. I also take con-acre land for oats and green crops. I take con-acre, grazing and meadowing. Condition of cottage plot: grass.”

Among other applicants was Patrick Sutton of Milford, Leighlinbridge, who was 30 years old, with a wife and two children. He described himself as a ‘landless man’ who ‘understands working land.’ He sought 30 acres from Major Alexander’s estate at Milford. His application was signed by Eugene Brennan, the battalion secretary, who acknowledged his ‘excellent service’ between 1918 and 1923.

With sincere thanks to MP.



Publication of ‘Pan-Europa’ by Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi (1894-1972), Austrian-Japanese politician and thinker.  Hitler was appalled by his pacifism and mechanical economism, slamming him as “a bastard. The veteran journalist Martyn Bond spoke with Dan Snow about him here.

January: Irregular forces embark on a campaign to burn down houses belonging to supporters of the Provisional Government. By the end of February, the houses of thirty-seven Senators had been burned. Senator Andrew Jameson of the distillery is amongst those to lose his home. De Valera apparently did not condone the burning of these “Free-Stater” homes and, with Childers in support, had made concerted efforts to prevent house-burnings both during the War of Independence and the Civil War. Perhaps Childers’ execution removed an element of protection for the Big Houses? Lt-Col. William Browne-Clayton told his son Robert that de Valera even addressed the people of Carlow from the gates of Browne’s Hill House, stating that “nothing was to be achieved by the burning or damaging of homes, big or small…raid for arms, yes, but leave them as they found them”. Pat Purcell likewise played a key role in saving Fenagh House, and possibly Lisnavagh House, from destruction.

Michael Purcell adds:

“De Valera was against the burning of “The Big Houses”, stating in December 1922 – “Terroristic methods may silence those of our opponents who are cowards, but many of them are very far from being cowards, and attempts at terrorism will only stiffen the bold men amongst them. I am against such methods on principle, and believe we will never win this war unless we attach the people to our Government by contrast with theirs. The recent burnings were, in my opinion, puerile and futile from a military or any other point of view. We must on no account allow our contest to be sullied by stupid and foolish action on the part of individuals who may never look to the consequences, not to speak of the morality or justice of what they are doing.” [145]

January 5: 18-year-old Edward Snoddy is shot dead in Thornville, Palatine, County Carlow. [146]

January 14: Destruction of the Sherlock family home at Roundhill House just outside Bandon, in County Cork, while its owner, Robert Webb Sherlock, a 58-year-old Sessional Crown Solicitor is taken away at gunpoint and held hostage for three weeks before his release. His wife Julia and sister Emily went to live at Clancool House, Bandon, which had once been owned by Julia’s GrandUncle Col. Thomas Wall Hewitt.

January 20:  ‘Lord and Lady Rathdonnell have left London for the Mediterranean.’ A wise decision, I’d have said, given all the horror that was to come in the ensuing weeks. [147]

Jan 26: Lord Dunraven was on a hit list of landlords to be assassinated, compiled by the anti-treaty side on 26 January 1923. Perhaps Tom Rathdonnell was also on list, or was this just targeting Senators? This list emerged from an archive of IRA documents, detailing secret operations from the 1916 Easter Rising through to the Irish Civil War, found in the attic of Joe Barrett, a former IRA commander in Kirush, County Clare, who died in 1971. The documents are presently with the Kilrush and District Historical Society.

January 29: On a stormy night, a group of Republicans break into Lord Mayo’s Victorian mansion at Palmerstown, Co. Kildare, douse the furniture and carpet in petrol and set it on fire. Lord Mayo, a pro-Treaty Senator, managed to save ‘three Sir Joshua’s, two Titian’s and most of my hunting clothes.’ Along with his wife and some members of staff, they were then held at gunpoint while the sandstone mansion burned to the ground, along with invaluable family records, artefacts and a rare collection of racing and hunting prints relating to the Kildare Hunt. ‘It is only right to say’, declared his lordship rather graciously in a post-war investigation into the burning, ‘that the raiders were excessively polite.’ Richard Orpen was subsequently commissioned to rebuild the house.

January 31: Senator John Philip Bagwell (1874-1946), general manager of the Great Northern Railway Company since 1911, is kidnapped from his home in Howth. His home, Marlfield House outside Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, was burned down, along with some priceless books and art, and a collection of Irish silver. Mr. Bagwell rebuilt the house in 1925. Many other Tipperary mansions are burned and over 200 bridges destroyed, as well as many creameries and extensive damage to the railway lines and railway stock.

I am reminded of a tale I was told of a parish priest who dropped in for a cup of tea with a leading Catholic family in the wake of one such burning, only to be served from a silver pot emblazoned with the crest of the family who had owned the mansion!

February: Con Moloney appointed Deputy Chief of Staff of the IRA. His brother Jim was married to Kathleen Barry from Tombeagh, Hacketstown, Rathvilly, sister of Kevin Barry. [148]

February 1: St Brigid’s Day. Republican chief of staff Liam Lynch threatens retaliatory assassinations if the Free State continues to execute prisoners; Moore Hall in Co Mayo is burned down by Republican guerrillas, because its owner, Maurice Moore is a senator in the Dáil.

Feb 5 (Monday): At 10pm, armed men from the local IRA break into the Carew’s mansion at Castleboro, Co. Wexford, and set fire to the building using barrels of paraffin oil to soak hay which they then scatter through the house. Castleboro – originally called Ballyboro – was built in 1840 on the site of an earlier house that had been destroyed by fire. It was named by the Hon. Robert Shapland Carew, renowned for having publicly lambasted and insulted Lord Castlereagh when he was offered a bribe during the negotiations over the Act of Union. He died in March 1829, aged 77, and was succeeded by his son and namesake who built the new house.
The burning party initially gained entry to the house by smashing their rifle butts through the French bay windows. The flames were fanned by a prevalent high wind. Robert Richardson, the steward, Mr Coppen, the head gardener, and several other employees watched helplessly as the house – and their livelihood – burned to the ground over the next few hours. The house was unoccupied as Lord and Lady Carew had removed to London three years earlier, leaving their beautiful gardens open for people to wander freely about which they did, especially in summer.
Julia Mary Lethbridge, wife of the 3rd Baron Carew, has passed away in London in 1922. Born in Hamilton, Ontario on 9 October 1863, she spent several years as a child in Persia, where her great-uncle was British Minister. She was also widely acclaimed for her needlework.
All the furniture in the house had been sold off by auction in May 1921, except for a portion of the west wing where three rooms were kept furnished for the occasions of Lord Carew’s visits. These were used by his agent, the Hon. Gen. Stopford who was, I assume, the fellow who made something of a hash of things out in Gallipoli seven years earlier. All the furniture there, and in the caretaker’s quarters in the basement, was destroyed. Charles, the caretaker, had also died in July 1922 and his widow, who had occupied the quarters by day, slept in a building in the farm yard by night, so she was safe. The Enniscorthy Guardian (10th February 1923) estimated the cost of rebuilding the mansion at £200,000. ‘The people of the district were always liberally treated by the Carew family,’ added the Guardian, ‘and the wanton destruction of their beautiful home was learned with feelings of horror and dismay.’
Family lore holds that the Conolly mansion at Castletown was destined for a similar fate in 1922. Ted Conolly watched the burning party come up the drive and invited them inside while he plead his case. ‘They took no notice and were about to torch the place, when Art O’Connor, a well-known republican from Celbridge, arrived and persuaded them to change their minds.’

Feb 6: Free State suspends executions until 18 February, offering an amnesty to anyone who surrendered before that day.

February 8: The Free State Defence Minister General Richard Mulcahy announces a 10-day amnesty intended to bring about a Republican surrender. At some point in February or March, Tom Barry began calling for an end to the war.

February 9: An explosion destroys a Dublin printing plant that was producing propaganda posters for the Free State Government.

February 11: Republican leaders announce their intention to continue the war until the country’s independence is recognized. One IRA man (Commandant Matt Fitzpatrick) and five B-Specials are killed in a shoot-out at Clones railway station.

February 12: Dr Thomas O’Higgins, the Stradbally-based father of Home Affairs Minister Kevin O’Higgins, is murdered and their family home burned down.

February 16: Republican forces destroy a railway bridge and burn houses in Dublin.

Feb 17: The Irish Times notes that Lord and Lady Rathdonnell, and Miss Maude Butler, had been staying at the Hotel Reina Christina in Algeciras but were now visiting Ronda and staying at the Hotel Reina, Victoria. “They will leave Gibraltar by the P and O ss Malwa on the 19th for Plymouth and London’. [149] A wise time to be out of Ireland …

Feb 28: The old Bruen home at Coolbawn is attacked and destroyed by fire during the Civil War. Henry Bruen had sold the building in 1917 for £15,000 (a record price for a farm sale in Wexford at that time) to an industrious farmer called James R Dier, JP, of Clonroche, Co. Wexford. Mr. Dier never lived there.

March 2: Knockabbey House (O’Reilly), near Ardee, Co. Louth, burned down.

Early March: Wilton Castle, designed by Daniel Robertson for the Alcock family, is burned to the ground.

March 3: Nenagh Guardian reports on destruction of Blessington Bridge and extensive damage to bridges at Ballyward and Burgage. Mount Uniacke near Youghal burned down.

March 6-26: Paddy Daly, veteran of 1916, authorises nine Republican prisoners to be ‘taken from Ballymullen Barracks in Tralee to Ballyseedy crossroads and tied to a landmine which was then detonated, after which the survivors were machine-gunned.’ One man survived. Between 6 and 26 March, 23 Republican prisoners are killed in the field in Kerry (and another five judicially executed) in a period of just four weeks.

March 13: (Tuesday) Rathvilly Railway Station on the Tullow branch of the Great Southern and Western Railway is burned down in the late evening by armed men who escape before the military arrived. Within 48 hours, the service between Waterford and Dublin is restored although the line was still partially blocked. [150]

March: Service Claims by IRA Members. [Note added by Michael Purcell in 2010. Those who fought against the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 claimed they were acting as members of the ” Irish Republican Army” on the applications listed below they are referred to as Irregulars. The claims listed here appear to have been brought before the Free State court in Carlow in March 1923.]

  • James Aughney, Bridge Street, Tullow, made application for payment of 8 pounds, 12 shillings for tea and sugar seized by Irregulars at Tullow on 12th to 15 July 1922.
  • Henry Corrigan, Cappagh, Ballon, made application for 20 pounds for double-barrelled gun commandeered in July 1922.
  • William O’Neill, Tullow Street, Carlow, made claim for 35 pounds for petrol etc. commandeered by Irregulars in Carlow between 8th May and 30th June, 1922.
  • William Doyle, Ballyhackett, made claim for 14 pounds – 14 shillings for a gents Ariel bicycle taken by a member of the National Army, who deserted and joined the Irregulars.
  • Patrick Dalton, Ballymurphy, Borris, made claim for 10 pounds in respect of tobacco and drapery seized by Irregulars between 21st June and 15th December 1922.
  • Catherine O’ Donohoe, Myshall, made claim for 55 pounds for groceries etc. supplied under duress to Irregulars at Myshall between 16th May and 25th June 1922.
  • Stephen Somers, Tullow, made claim for 11 pounds for injury to dwelling house, and food consumed by Irregulars in Tullow on the 13th February 1923.
  • Mrs Margaret Derwin, Mill Street, Tullow, made claim for 3 pounds compensation for bacon and margarine commandeered by Irregulars at Tullow on 14th July 1922.
  • Richard Byrne, Tullow Street, Carlow, application for 22 pound for commandeering of petrol and lubricating oil by Irregulars at Carlow between 16th May and 25th June 1922.
  • Laurence Keogh, Mill Street, Tullow, made claim for 8 pounds for board and lodging of Irregulars at Tullow on 12th to 15th July 1922.
  • Margaret Maher, Bridge Hotel, Tullow, made claim for 50 pounds for board and lodging of Irregulars in Tullow between 11th to 15th July 1922.
  • James Norse, Main Street, Tullow application for 9 pounds for board etc. of Irregulars, also for bread seized and motor spirit taken at Tullow between 12 – 15 July 1922.
  • Mary J. Murphy, Tullow, claim for 61 pounds for groceries and cigarettes etc. commandeered by Irregular Forces in Tullow 12th – 15th July 1922.
  • William Byrne, Market Square, Tullow, claim for 4 pounds for groceries requisitioned by Irregulars on 12th July 1922.
  • Joseph Murphy, trading as Murphy Brothers, Tullow, application for 15 pounds for groceries etc. requisitioned by Irregulars in Tullow on the 13 February 1923.

March 23: Burning of Kellistown House. Michael Purcell writes:

“During the War of Independence, Kellistown Cottage (or The Glebe House) was set on fire by volunteers of the Irish Republican Army after it was discovered that its occupant Elizabeth Pack-Beresford had acted as informer to the Crown forces regarding I.R.A. activity in the area. Elizabeth and her sister Annette were ordered out of the house and warned to leave Ireland or both of them would be shot, indeed Elizabeth was lucky to escape with her life. An effort was made to burn Fenagh House but it was unsuccessful, the days of “Hanging Gale Beresford” were not forgotten!”

The Pat Purcell Papers include a statement, signed by Elizabeth Pack-Beresford, in which she said that at least a dozen men burst through the door of Kellistown House in the early hours of 23 March 1923. They initially demanded food. At first, she refused to speak to them but when they threatened to burn down the house, she and her sister prepared a meal for them. Some of the men lay down on the beds a fell asleep. Others played cards. They stayed in the house most of the day. They drank a few bottles of wine they found in a press. As darkness fell Elizabeth asked them to leave, saying that she and her sister had not rested for 24 hours.

One man said, ‘You know why we are here. You informed on us and we intend to burn you out.’

Elizabeth replied, ‘What brave men you are! Ireland is well served by such bravery and courage – it takes courage to threaten two ladies and then to burn the roof from over their heads.’

Her sister told her not to engage the men in conversation. The sisters were given one hour to save whatever they wanted from the house; some men helped them to lift some furniture. They then set the house ablaze. Before so doing one of the men told Elizabeth that if he ever saw her again he would put a bullet through her.

March 29: Republicans attempt to burn and lay a land mine in Burton Hall, Stillorgan, the home of Henry Seymour Guinness, engineer, banker and senator. The fire fails to ignite and the mine is defused by Free State troops.

April: Kellistown Races annual meeting called off due to volatile Irish political scene.

April 10: Liam Lynch killed, leaving room for more moderate anti-Treatyists like de Valera and Frank Aiken; Aiken becomes Republican chief of staff and, by the end of April, he is pushing for peace.

April 12The Shadow of a Gunman by Sean O’Casey premieres at the Abbey Theatre.

April 27: Éamon de Valera announces end of operations against the Irish Free State, effectively ending the Irish Civil War.

April 29: Three months after his home at Castleboro is destroyed by fire, Lord Carew passes away.

April 30: Anti-Treaty side calls for a ceasefire and orders men to ‘dump arms.’

May 16-19: Tom Rathdonnell hosts the Spring Show at the RDS. He is pictured in the Pathé footage below accompanying the Governor General, Timothy Healy, who had arrived by motor car with his aide-de-camp, Major-General Cullen. Tom then brought Mr. Healy on a tour of the grounds.

May 24: Irish Civil War formally ends when Frank Aiken orders Anti-Treaty fighters to “dump their arms” and return home. Éamon de Valera supports the order, issuing a statement to his men: “Further sacrifice on your part would now be in vain and the continuance of the struggle in arms unwise in the national interest. Military victory must be allowed to rest for the moment with those who have destroyed the Republic”.

May 31: Irish Army destroy the Boyne obelisk at Oldbridge, County Meath.

June 30: ‘Lord and Lady Rathdonnell have arrived at Curzon Hotel for a short stay.’ [151]

July 3: Six weeks after the end of the Civil War, Noel Lemass, anti-Treaty, is kidnapped in broad daylight by members of the National Army Intelligence Department. For months his family desperately search for information on his whereabouts, but to no avail.  It will transpire that he has been murdered. His brother Sean Lemass went on to be Taoiseach from 1959 to 1966.

July 16: ‘Lord and Lady Rathdonnell will leave London Monday for the country’. [152]

July 31: ‘Ireland has passed a Coercion Act that would make Trotsky gasp’ – George Bernard Shaw.

August 9: The Free State government pass the Land Law (Commission) Act, 1923. Many of its adopted proposals for a final land settlement come from decisions reached during the Irish Convention in 1918 under the chairmanship of Horace Plunkett. Land sales become compulsory, with the vendors paid in land bonds. The government’s aim is to achieve political and social stability as the land question had become so entangled with the war of independence and the civil war. Kevin O’Higgins warned that anyone who continued the campaign of agrarian agitation would be excluded from the benefits of the new land act. The Land Commission acquired over 70,000 acres in Carlow in the 1920s – 1930s which was then transferred into the legal ownership of the tenants.  The following list from the Iris Oifigiúil of 7 February 1933 provides a list of the tenants to whose ownership Lord Rathdonnell’s Carlow lands were transferred under the 1923 Land Act. [153] As my father observed in May 2022: “This confirms what I had always understood, I know not why, that [Tom Rathdonnell] approved of the land reforms and, long before the upheavals of the 1920’s, had transferred almost all of the tenanted land north and west of Lisnavagh to the tenants under the Land Acts. The dates of the many deeds show this clearly. He retained some of Ballyoliver, sold for building in 1930’s (but in those days at the land value!) and beyond Tullow which were compulsory purchased by the Rathoe Land League;  some of this was actively farmed as the limestone land there was better for “finishing” Lisnavagh bred bullocks than at home.”



August 13: “The annual exhibition of the Royal Hibernian Academy, which was formerly held in the spring, was opened on Monday afternoon in the Arts Hall, Ball’s Bridge, by special arrangement with the Royal Dublin Society. The President, Mr. Dermod O’Brien, accompanied by Mrs. O’Brien, and the Academicians wearing their crimson official robes, received the visitors, who included : Lord Rathdonnell and Party, Lady De Freyne, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Mrs. Fitzgerald, the Hon. Frederick Lawless, Colonel Sir Frederick and Lady Shaw, Lady Arnott, the Hon. Mrs. Netterille and party, Lady Moloney, Sir William, Lady, and Miss Smyly, Sir George Roche, Mr. Justice and Miss Samuel, Sir Robert and Lady Woods, Sir Henry and Lady McLaughlin, the Recorder ot Dublin, the Attorney General, Mrs Desmond Fitzgerald, Mr. Jonathan Hogg, Sir William Thompson. Mrs. Baywell, Captain Stephen Gwynne, Mr, Mrs and Miss Gwynne, and Mr. and Mrs French.” [154]

Lord Rathdonnell (right) escorts Mr. Timothy M. Healy, the Governor General, around the 1923 Dublin Horse Show. Mr. Healy is talking with Professor Adenev, FTCD. (The Irish Times, 15 August 1923).

August 14: ‘The Dublin Horse Show was opened at Ballsbridge today in beautiful weather. From early morning there was a constant stream of visitors, and if the attendance was not so great as in some of the years before the war, it was greater than most people had expected. Special care had been taken by the organizers to make the social attractions as varied as possible, and the innovation of a broadcasting exhibition is likely to prove a very popular feature.

All the principal Irish firms [?] have stands in the Central Hall, while an additional attraction is provided by the annual exhibition of the Royal Hibernian Academy, which is being held this year for the first time at Ballbridge. Sir John Lavery‘s “Blessing the Colours,” an Irish officer holding the tricolour flag which is being blessed by a Roman Catholic Archbishop, drew large crowds to the Academy this morning.

Another interesting feature of the show is the hall which is reserved for Irish manufactures and country industries.

The Governor-General of the Free State paid an unofficial visit to this part of the show this afternoon. He was accompanied by Lord Powerscourt, Sir John and Lady Lavery, and Mr. Edward Bohane, director of the show. The entries this year are very encouraging. Eight hundred and sixty-two young horses are being shown in comparison with 672 last year, while the bloodstock entries show an increase from 598 to 703. Much interest was taken in the judging this morning, and one noticed at the rings a large number of the people who were reported to have ” left the country ” during the last few years. Many exiles have been unable to resist the attraction of the Horse Show, and Dublin is wearing such a gay mien at present that some, at any rate, may be tempted to change their minds and return to a peaceful Ireland. Fortunately the strike at the ports has had very little effect on the Show.’ [155]

Among the principal prize-winner on Day One was Lord Rathdonnell, whose Sungirt  won the Croker Cup, a prize for the best thoroughbred stallion calculated to get weight-carrying hunters. As the Northern Whig remarked, Sundridge, ex Girton M.A, “was clearly the best of the seven entered, and as is a grandson of Amphion and on the dam’s side of Halliard wants nothing in the way of blood or stamina.”

Among those present at the Show on Day One were Lord Headfort and party, Lord Enniskillen, Lord Rocford [sic], Lord and Lady Rathdonnell, Lord and Lady Powerscourt and Party, Lady Eva Forbes, Sir Henry and Thomas Grattan-Bellew, Sir Thomas and Lady Edena Ainsworth, Major and Lady Helen McCalmont, Sir Gilbert and Lady Greenall, Sir Walter and Lady Nugent, the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland and Mrs. Molony, Sir Walter Buchanan, Lady Fitzgerald Arnott etc.

Aug 15: De Valera is arrested on the platform while making a campaign appearance in Ennis, and interned at Kilmainham jail. The arrest gives a bounce to his flagging career.

August 27: General Election in Irish free State. W.T. Cosgrave wins 39% but 27% vote for Republicans in election, winning 44 seats. Dev is back in the saddle. US funds helped bankroll his election campaign, and also gives him funds to start a supportive newspaper, the Irish Press.

Sept 29: The date on which the British Empire reaches its fullest extent, as per ‘One Fine Day‘ by Matthew Parker.

October 14: News breaks that Noel Lemass’s remains have been found at the Featherbeds in Dublin, or up near Hellfire Club. He had been brutally tortured. No one is ever charged with his murder. On the centenary of the inquest into his death, SDCC Historian in Residence Liz Gillis discussed the life of Noel Lemass at the Red Line Book Festival in Tallaght. I was MC for the day.

Nov 8-9: The failed Beer Hall Putsch, also known as the Munich Putsch, by Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler, General Ludendorff and others in Munich, Bavaria.

Nov 20: Final two executions of those involved in Civil War. According to Stair na hÉireann: ‘The Free State took a total of over 12,000 Republicans prisoner during the war, of whom roughly 80, less than 1% were executed.’ Or, another way of looking at it: ‘During the Irish Civil War, the National Army executed more Irishmen than the British had during the War of Independence.’



An anecdote, attributed to the historian Thomas P. O’Neill (1922-1996) recounts how Lord Rathdonnell called in to see the Department of Agriculture circa 1924-1925 seeking details on their policy.  After several fruitless visits, he persuaded a civil servant to summon his superior officer, a noted veteran of the republican war. Rathdonnell once again cited his request, at which the officer slammed the counter with his fist and declared, “I’ll tell you what our policy is “veng in nence … fucking veng-in-nence.” And, as Michael Purcell added, ‘with that the Lord was out the door in a flash leaving a very embarrassed junior civil servant behind the counter.’

January: Death of former Carlow Council chairman Michael Governey.

January 28: Murder of Garda Patrick O’Halloran during attempted bank robbery at National Bank (now Bank of Ireland) in Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow. Felix McMullen from Derrylin, Co. Fermanagh, is executed for the crime on 1st August.

February 26: Tom and Kate celebrate Golden Wedding anniversary.

March 6: Tom Rathdonnell addresses letter to the Irish Free State government requesting that Leinster House be returned to the Royal Dublin Society. In part of the letter, he writes ‘When the late General Michael Collins, after inspecting the House among several others, expressed a desire to hold the first Provisional Government Assembly in the Lecture Theatre his wish was most readily complied with by the Society as a National necessity. General Collins generously acknowledged the offer and expressed the hope to the Society’s Director that the great inconvenience caused to the Society would not exceed eight months. Nearly two years have now elapsed, and the present decentralisation is seriously affecting and jeopardising the work of the Society, apart from it incurring additional expenses (at present approximately £500) by the renting of Theatres, etc., and increased temporary staff rendered necessary in continuing the Society’s usual operations.’ Click here to read the letter.

Rathdonnell seated, right, with Jellett standing on left, March 1924

March 19: Joint Committee gives its verdict on Lord Rathdonnell’s request that Leinster House be returned to the RDS. The committee comprises of Senators Lord Glenavy, Jameson, O’Farrell, Mrs. Wyse-Power, and O’Dea; and Deputies Hughes, Magennis, Cooper, Nagle, and Gorey. After five meetings, they concluded that while the loss of Leinster House may have ‘already been responsible for the resignation of some hundreds of [RDS] members … it regards the needs of the Free State as of prior and paramount importance, especially as it is satisfied that the inconvenience and financial loss to which already the Society has been and will in the future be subject can be materially mitigated by the provision of temporary accommodation elsewhere and by pecuniary compensation.’ Click here to read the full report.

Date Unknown: “The favourite with the buyers, however, was Mr. W. J. Walker’s Red Baron Broadhooks, [184260, red], a son of Roan Baron Crocus, whose colour and breeding are indicated by his name. He topped the class at 91 guineas, the buyer being Lord Rathdonnell. [156] Red Baron Broadhooks was bred by Dr. E. H. Taylor of Blessington and calved April 19, 1922. [157] Its progeny included Louisa’s Garland, white, calved March 12, 1927; Fortune Teller, red roan, calved Oct 5, 1927; Ocean Boy 232334, red roan, calved March 2, 1928.

July 5-27: Summer Olympics in Paris. These were the games where the British runners Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell won the 100 m and the 400 m events, respectively, as depicted in the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire.

August 1: Execution of Felix McMullen for Baltinglass murder of January 28.

August 3: Tailteann Games commence at Croke Park. Click here for more.

August 8: See Reuters’ footage of Lord Rathdonnell at the Dublin Horse Show at 0.36-0.41.

At the 1924 Summer Olympics, the British runners Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell won the 100 m and the 400 m events, respectively. Liddell refused to compete in the 100-metre dash because it was held on a Sunday and he was an observant Christian. Their stories were depicted in the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire.

August 14: Joseph Brennan dispatches a letter on behalf of the Minister of Finance announcing the Government’s intention to purchase the whole of Leinster House for £63,000. Tom heads a committee to consider the proposal and the concept of a full-time move to Balls Bridge. Nicholas White has written about the transfer of Leinster House from the RDS to the Dail in his book, “Science and Colonialism in Ireland” (Cork University Press, 1999) but confessed to me that he had “raided most of the relevant material from Terence de Vere White’s history of the RDS“. This describes Lord Rathdonnell’s involvement as primarily agricultural and gives most of the credit to the society’s chief executive, Edward Bohane, and to Judge Wylie.

August 18: Tex Austin’s International Rodeo commences at Croke Park, see here.

Oct 1: ‘Lord Dunraven of Adare Manor, Limerick, who is closely allied with Irish affairs, in a letter to “The Times,” makes an eleventh-hour appeal to Mr. Wm. T. Cosgrove (President of the Irish Free State) and Sir James Craig (Prime Minister of Northern Ireland) to get together and try to arrange an amicable boundary settlement. He says there are men on both sides bent on making an agreement impossible, regardless of consequences, “but,” he adds, “there are many soberminded men in Ireland who do regard the consequences with horror and crave some means of averting them.”

Oct 29: Conservative landslide victory under Stanely Baldwin in General Election, replacing the Labour minority government, led by Ramsay MacDonald. The Liberals, under Asquith, are hammered, losing lose 118 of their 158 seats.

Dec 20: Hitler released from jail, having served only nine months of his 5 year sentence for his role in the Munich Putsch. During his incarceration, he dictated Mein Kampf to fellow prisoners Emil Maurice and Rudolf Hess.

December 27: Giving the annual report of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, Colonel Claud Cane, the Deputy Grand Master, announced that Tom had stepped down as Senior Grand Warden, a position he had held for 16 years. His place was filled by the Junior Grand Warden, Sir William Goulding, great-grandfather of Barnes.



Tom Rathdonnell photographed in later life, perhaps at a horse racing event or at the Dublin Horse Show. (Thanks to Patricia Bruen). See also the animated version of this below.  Bill Burgess of Tobinstown, who died aged 105 in 2007, recalled Tom as a ‘big and stout’ man who rode a 14-hand dock-tailed cobbe around the farm. All the gates at that time had latches that he could open without dismounting. Bill was born just after Billy Bunbury died.

William Wasdell Trickett (1866-1939), the British equestrian artist, paints the portrait of ‘Rathdonnell’, a hunter, in a stable setting, pastel signed titled and dated 1925, 44cm x 58cm. We know not who the horse belonged to or where it was painted.

April 10: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is first published in New York City.

April 13: Death of Lady Rathdonnell, aka Kate McClintock Bunbury, in Algiers. I assume she was there for health reasons. She and her husband were staying at the Hotel St. Georges on Rue Michelet Avenue, which overlooks the busy bay of Algiers. Now known as the El-Djazair, the hotel opened in 1889 and was founded on the site of a former Spanish Moorish palace. It became especially popular after the Great War, although Wikipedia curiously describes it as ‘a widely popular hotel for wealthy spinsters touring the Mediterranean Sea.’

During World War II the Hotel St. Georges served as the HQ for the French Navy, as well as a meeting place for French Admiral Jean-Francois Darlan and American General Mark Wayne Clark. Churchill and Eisenhower also frequented it. The Hotel is also known for hosting the planning HQ for Force 141 when Eisenhower started in his new role as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in North Africa, following the Casablanca Conference between President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill in January 1943. In mid-February 1943, the July target date and tactics for the allied invasion of Sicily were chosen in the hotel for the successful Operation Husky.

It is remarkable that Kate’s father-in-law William McClintock Bunbury had participated in the bombardment of Algiers in 1816 as a 16 year old Midshipman on board the 40-gun frigate, HMS Severn.

Although Lady Rathdonnell is unlikely to have had much interest in motor-biking, Lady Warren, author of `Through Algeria & Tunisia on a Motor-bicycle’ (Jonathan Cape, 1922) may have been an Ievers connection of her husband. (Thanks to Karen Ievers).


In August 2020 I found a cache of letters relating to her death and funeral in a chest in the cellars at Lisnavagh. Being submerged in book deadlines at the time, I seized the opportunity to transcribe them as follows below.

Tom recounted the circumstances of Kate’s death in a letter written on black-bordered paper from the Hotel St George on April 13th to Leonard Poe, aka Leonard Hutcheson Poe (1888-1929), the Agent at Lisnavagh, who lived in Germaine’s. For more on him see here.

Dear Poe,
I write a hurried line to catch the Post tomorrow to let you know what has happened in the last 3 days. Last Rathdonnell developed a cold on Saturday, which attacked her in the throat and lungs and affected her breathing quite suddenly. Miss Butler and I went down into the Town on Saturday morning leaving her rather tired, but seemingly fairly well, but when we came back inside a couple of hours she could scarcely speak – We sent for the Doctor who ordered her to go into the hospital close to this hotel, so we moved her in at once and she was much pleased with her nurses and room, and said how comfortable she found the change.
On Sunday she became much weaker, and her breathing became worse – and this morning her heart gave way and she died about 3 o’clock without suffering I am thankful to say.
We are trying to arrange to leave this next Sunday in a Dutch boat for Southampton, but there is a great deal to arrange. Eventually we wish to have the funeral at Rathvilly.
I know you will be sorry to get this letter
Yours sincerely,
I will later on write and wire our movements.

April 14th [but not received for some time, I guess..]
Hotel St George
Dear Poe,
We are making arrangements to go home by [long sea?], and hope to sail from this on Sunday the 19th in a Dutch boat. I am writing to Tim to see what arrangements he can make with regard to having the Coffin taken from London to Dublin – so please communicate with him.
I should like to have the coffin taken straight down to Rathvilly church on its arrival at Dublin, and would ask you to make arrangements for it to be conveyed straight down from the ship in a Motor Hearse. Mr O’Callaghan must be told about these arrangements. I want you also to see that our plot in the Church yard is marked out correctly.
I want Lady Rathdonnell and my graves to be exactly in the middle of the plot side by side. I may be home in time to see to this myself, but these are my wishes should I not get home in time to look to matters myself.
This letter will not go till Thursday the 16th and I may know more by that date.
April 15th – 9.30pm
We have difficulties in getting from this in the Dutch Boat, but we hope to arrive in England on the 23rd or 24th somehow – The Coffin goes direct to London from this independent of us – so communicate with Tim who will give you all information and instructions.
Yours sincerely,
I hope Walter [Woods] will have the Motor ready to meet me in Dublin when I wrote or wire for it.

Shermansbury Grange
April 18th
My dear Mr Poe,
I wonder if Father has written about any plans & arrangements – to you – I expect he has – as far as he was able but his letter was received this morning & written on Tuesday, was of course before he could settle anything.
He said he hoped to be able to arrange passage on the Dutch boat leaving Algiers for Southampton tomorrow (19th) & for the funeral to be at Rathvilly. As we have heard nothing since, we think there may be some difficulty in these arrangements. If this passage is satisfactorily arranged, it leaves us little time to settle things at Lisnavagh & as we do not know if anything has been done in the way of getting [servants?] or [others? anything?] prepared for their proposed homecoming in [May?] … it is difficult to know quite how much we should start off to arrange now – on our own initiative.
I am writing Kaye [the butler] a line as we think this is the best – *** there may be a hurry to get the house prepared – as if the funeral is at Rathvilly at the end of next week, a certain number will have to be put up in the house & if he has no otehr instruction, we are writing to my aunt [??!] Mrs Ussher Roberts to cooperate with Kaye & get the necessary cook & pantry help to carry on with – but to do nothing until he has definite instructions.
I am telling you all this as it will explain how undecided everything is. I will let you know what we are proposing to do failing other orders from Father. Father says Mother got a cold & it turned suddenly to a bad throat & bronchitis & she was only ill two days- it will be a sudden blow to him I am afraid but, for my mother, much as we shall miss her, she can only look upon it as a release. Her life was daily becoming more wearisome & tiring [trying?] for her. She has always been so independent and active. We shall all miss her terribly.
Thank you so much for your letter.
Yours sincerely,
Mamie] Bramwell [who later lived at Sherbrone]

Shermansbury Grange
April 18th
My dear Mr Poe,
We have been thinking over plans – & my sister & I think we will probably arrive on Friday morning – also possibly Forrester Colvin – as there may be things that *** want seeing to – & it will also ease the arrivals on Saturday morning.
We are thinking that Father will probably cross by Liverpool & if so would come down in the car, I expect on Sat’y morning – so that any others of us cross that night would come down by early train. if you hear from him as definite plans, I wonder if you would mind letting is know. We all hope to get a letter on Tuesday but i am sure he finds it hard to think of it with all the plans to [engage?] – there is so much to be thought of. Also another this, i hope, you will not mind doing for no and that is to order us 2 wreaths from Dublin. I do not know who there is to order from.
We would like one wreath for about £4 or £5 & suggest all Neapolitan violets.
My second wreath we would like smaller – about £3 – & all white.
It would be awfully good of you if you would do this. I think [Charles] Faulkner [head gardener at Lisnavagh] will have probably to make one for Father – & have to supply other flowers – so it is best for ours to come from Dublin – unless Duggan in Carlow is good enough.
Mamie Bramwell

Shermansbury Grange
April 20th
My dear Mr Poe,
You will get Father’s letter today, telling you his outline of plans. He apparently [?] writes me to go straight to Lisnavagh with him, so I suppose we should arrive either Saturday or Sunday.
We realise now that the funeral cannot be until Monday, or perhaps Tuesdays, so would you very kindly either postpone the wreaths I asked for or let me have the address of a shop in Dublin & we could order them & save you the trouble if you have not already done so – as there is time [?] now. Father says he is asking Tim to communicate with you to make all arrangements & we are writing to Kaye about the household arrangements.
Mamie Bramwell

Telegram from Halesworth to Poe, via Rathvilly, 20 April:
Am going Southampton Thursday to make all arrangements for landing please let me know what is arranged regarding journey to Rathvilly so that I can cooperate – Bunbury, Highfield, Halesworth [Who was this? Tim?]

[To which Poe’s reply was: Have arranged for Motor Hearse to meet Boat at Dublin whatever day and hour you instruct me.]

Great Wadd,
21 April 1925
My dear Poe,
Many thanks for your wire. My Father’s wishes and his instructions to me did not reach me until this evening and have made clear much that was very vague. I had only telegrams to work on and they were not clear.
My Father is coming by the Dutch boat due at Southampton, where I shall meet him, early on Friday. I expect he will cross to Ireland to Lisnavagh Saturday night, but that is not settled.
The coffin is coming by a different steamer due in the Thames next Saturday or Sunday. I am going to London tomorrow to see the owners of this steamer and arrange transport to Dublin. I will let you know as soon as I can what is arranged and will keep you informed.
You must have thought it funny, my wiring to you as I did! I had no instructions and the various items of information on which I had to work were contradictory, so I thought I had better find out what you were doing, at any rate.
I do not see that the funeral can take place before Tuesday.
Yours ever,
T.L. McClintock Bunbury

Great Wadd,
22 April 1925
My dear Poe,
The “Livorno” is expected to dock in London on Friday afternoon. I have arranged with an undertaker to remove the coffin from the ship when the shipping company wish; ie I have put the undertaker and the shipping company in touch. The coffin will lie over the weekend in the chapel of a church in London.
Tomorrow, I am going to see the High Com’er [Commissioner] for the I.F.S. [Irish Free State] with regard to customs formalities and when I have seen him, I am going to Euston to arrange journey to Dublin. What I hope to arrange if for the coffin to leave London on Monday and reach North Wall early on Tuesday morning. As soon as arrangements are definite I will send you a wire.
My Father’s ship is due at Southampton early on Friday morning and I hope to meet him there. I don’t know if it will come off, but we are trying to get him to Shermanbury on Friday.
Yours ever,
T. L. McClintock Bunbury

South Western Hotel
23 April 1923
My dear Poe,
I am writing to you that the hearse should be at North Wall at 8am on Tuesday. I will cross Monday night by the mail and shall be at North Wall to attend to customs formalities.
If the outer packing case is sealed we shall have to leave the seals intact until after arrival in Ireland, in which case I will wire to you to have a carpenter with brace and screwdrivers at the church to fix the name plate to the coffin. The plate is made and if it cannot be fixed in London owing to the seals, I will bring it and the screws with me, and send them down in the hearse.
I expect to meet my Father here early tomorrow; so very possibly you may get a wire as to the day and time of the funeral before you get this letter.
Yours ever,
T.L. McClintock Bunbury
I should add that the coffin will come by LMS Steamer from Holyhead.

[To] Messrs Waller [Undertaker]
48 Denzille Street, Dublin
24 April 1925
Dear Sir,
Adverting to our interview on Tuesday last, please have your Motor Hearse at North Wall at eight o’clock noon Tuesday morning next, the 28th inset to meet the boat from Liverpool which will bring Lady Rathdonnell’s remains from England; the Hearse is to proceed from North Wall direct to Rathvilly Church with the remains.
Please send me a line confirming the arrangement.
Yours truly.

24 April
[To] Miss Jameson
Dear Madam,
I am now in a position to make definite arrangements about the Wreaths which I ordered, please send them down to Rathvilly Station by the evening train on Monday next the 27th inst. I think the train leaves Kingsbridge at 5-30pm but please make sure of this. Yours truly.

24 April 1925
A telegraph from Partridge Green (West Sussex) received by the Estate Office at 3pm on 25 April, via Rathvilly (Carlow), and sent to Leonard Poe at Germaine’s stated:
Funeral two o’clock Tuesday
Father crosses tonight

24 April 1925
A telegram from Southampton to Poe, received in Rathvilly, stated: hearse should be north wall eight Tuesday morning Bunbury.

Dear Sir,
Adverting to my letter of 24th inst., I am now instructed that Lady Rathdonnell’s remains are coming by the London Midland & Scottish Boat to North Wall, not the Liverpool Boat, so please have the Motor Hearse at the London, Midland and Scottish Station at North Wall at the hour named viz: eight o’clock on Tuesday morning next the 28th inst. Captain Bunbury will be there to attend to the customs formalities. Please wire me confirming this letter as I do now want any mistake made in this matter.
Yours truly,
A Waller
48 Denzille Street, Dublin
[Alfred Waller was an undertaker]

Notes [from Leonard Poe?] on headed paper for Germaines:
Enough me to carry coffin from Boat to Hearse
Waller: Motor Hearse to meet boat on day & hour telegraphed + bring coffin to R’villy Church.
On which side should the wife’s grave be? N or S. [North-side]
Jameson’s (to come Friday evening): 1 wreath Neapolitan violence (£4-5)
1 Do Samller White
1 Do White (Vestry)
1 Do White (Employees)
Petrie: 90 ft 3/4” white cotton rope
Meat. Cigarettes. Tim’s letter.

Copy of Telegram to Jameson [florist] of 21 Nassau Street. Dublin, by Poe from Rathvilly: Expect wreaths by train this evening as ordered in my letter of 24th.

27 April, 11:25
Telegram from Dublin to Poe
Your letter received, alteration noted. Undertaker.

27 April, 3:30pm
A telegram from London to Poe in Germaines, Rathvilly
Carpenter will be required on arrival tomorrow. Bunbury

Lady Rathdonnell’s body was returned to Ireland in a lead coffin. Lead coffins were (and still occasionally are) used for vault / crypt interments, i.e. not an earth burial – an interment in a built structure, sometimes above ground, sometimes below. Classic examples exist in Mount Jerome and Glasnevin cemeteries. It was a sign of wealth and privilege and took fashion in the 19th century in particular. It was a high Victorian symbol of class. The lead coffin would be encased in 1 or 2 outer coffins – normally oak ‘and weighs a bloody tonne‘ according to Dublin undertaker Gus Nichols who has one! Many churches had subterranean vaults as well – Christ Church Cathedral is a good example. St. Andrews Church on Westland Row has a huge vault under the street.

August 7 (circa): Lord Rathdonnell wins 1st Prize at the RDS Show in the category of ‘Class 1—Thoroughbred Stallions calculatedto get weight-carrying hunters’. The winning horse was Sungirt, a 13 year old chestnut, bred by Capt. Whitworth, a. Sundridge by Amphion, d. Girton M.A.  by Baliol. (Kildare Observer8 August 1925).

November 3: Death of Tom’s friend Sir Bache Cunard. His obituary in The Times ran as follows:

“Sir Bache Cunard, who died yesterday afternoon at his house at Wansford, near Peterborough, was the grandson of one of the founders of the Cunard line of steamships and himself at one time a prominent figure in the hunting world of Leicestershire. He was born in 1851, the eldest son of Sir Edward Cunard, the second baronet, and of Mary, daughter of Bache M’Evers, a merchant of New York. He was educated at Rugby and at Trinity College, Cambridge, and succeeded on the death of his younger brother to Nevill Holt, a beautiful and historic place in the Midlands, which thenceforward became his home. There he founded and was first Master of the famous pack of foxhounds which afterwards became Mr. Fenie’s. His assumption of the Mastership was not without some protest on the part of the Quorn Hunt, who claimed the area over which Sir Bache sent out to hunt; but an amicable settlement was ultimately arrived at and the boundaries within which he was M.F.H. are respected to this day. He was a popular Master with all sections of the hunting community, especially among the farmers, very many of whom he claimed as his personal friends.
He was a deputy lieutenant and magistrate for Leicestershire. Sir Bache was a fine horseman and an exceptionally fine whip. He was one of the small band of brothers who introduced polo into England and was an enthusiastic follower of the game until the death of his younger brother, a subaltern in the l0th Hussars, who was killed when playing polo at Shorncliffe. He was a member of the Coaching Club and a consummate artist in handling the reins. Thoroughgoing sportsman as he was. he was of a peculiarly artistic temperament. As a worker in silver and bronze, as a maker of salmon flies, and in various other ways he acquired a skill and dexterity which qualified him to take his place in the ranks of professional craftsmen. Sir Bache had also various business interests.
He was a trustee for the United Kingdom of the New York Life Insurance Company, and a director of the Chloride Electrical Storage Company.
He married in 1895 Maude Alice daughter of the late Mr. E. F. Burke, of New York; she survives him with one daughter, Nancy. The heir to the title is Sir Bache’s brother Gordon, formerly of Thorpe Lubenham, Market Harborough, who was born in 1857 and is married to a daughter of the late Colonel John Stanley Howard, of Ballina Park, Co. Wicklow. His surviving sisters are Lady Lawley and Mrs. Athole Hay.’

As an interesting aside, Maude Cunard was the sometime lover of the writer George Moore.

November 9 (Mon): The Times noted Lord Rathdonnell’s return to Lisnavagh from England, presumably having attended Sir Bache’s funeral.

Tom’s brother-in-law, Admiral Edward Francis Bruen retires from Navy.




In 1926, Tom attended the christening of his great-grandson, Patrick Cox, at Woldringfold. Here he is pictured holding the baby.

January 1: Douglas Hyde opens Dublin 2 RN, later to become Radio Eireann.

January 5: The Most Rev Dr Patrick Foley, Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin, turns the first sod on the site where the huge Carlow beet processing plant stood until its closure in March 2005. Construction was completed in record time and processing of that first sugar beet campaign commenced in mid-October. It was one of four sugar plants in the country – Mallow, Thurles and Tuam following in Carlow’s footsteps. Sugar beet was the lifeblood of the local community and major part of the industrial fabric of Carlow Town for many years. Among the major protestors on the factory’s closure in 2005 was Tiger Kearns, a Vietnam War veteran who worked at the factory for close on forty years. He maintained that his hometown of Rathvilly was one of the best places for growing sugar beet in the world. See Pathe footage of the sugar factory here, as well as the fine footage of the turning of the first sod here.

January 19 (Tuesday): The Times notes Lord Rathdonnell’s return to Lisnavagh from England.

April 6: Dublin-born, Violet Gibson, daughter of Lord Ashbourne, shoots Benito Mussolini in Rome.

April 20 (Tuesday): The Times again notes Lord Rathdonnell’s return to Lisnavagh from England.

May 23: Death of Tom’s son-in-law, Major Frederick Dalgety. He had been ill for some time but apparently his wife, a committed Christian Scientist, discouraged any treatment.

June 12: Birth of Pat Colvin, son of Jack and Hester Colvin, grandson to Forrester and Isabella and great-grandson of Tom Rathdonnell.

June 14: Death of 4th Earl of Dunraven aged 85; he and Tom were on the Horse-Breeding Commission together in 1896 and were also Southern Unionist colleagues.

Four Generations: In 1926, Tom attended the christening of his great-grandson, Patrick Cox, at Woldringfold. Here he is pictured holding the baby alongside his son-in-law Forrester Colvin, right, and his grandson, Jack Colvin.

August 6: First Competition for the Aga Khan Challenge Trophy at the Dublin Horse Show. Made by Weir’s, the trophy was presented to the RDS by the Aga Khan III, later a founding member and first president of the All-India Muslim League, who was one of the world’s biggest owners of thoroughbred racing horses at the time. In the Pathe footage below, Tom Rathdonnell is second in line after the Governor General, Tim Healy, greeting the crowd, pursued by a representative of the Aga Khan (I’m guessing), W.T. Cosgrave (President of the Executive Council) and Kevin O’Higgins (Minister for Justice, who would be assassinated less than a year later). As Cosgrave and O’Higgins overtake him, Tom gives the camera a smashing smile at 0.35.

The event was notable for the singing of ‘God Save the King’, played by the Free State Army No. 1 Band. The Swiss won the Aga Khan that day, amid record crowds; the Swiss all rode Irish horses. The gold-plated trophy, which cost £64,000 to produce, is now presented to the winning team of four riders by the President of Ireland. As of 2019, the current Aga Khan trophy is the sixth incarnation; if a country wins the Nation’s Cup three years in a row, they get to keep the trophy and a new one is commissioned. Ireland has won the cup outright on two occasions – 1935 and 1979 – and, in total, has won on 23 occasions. The Aga Khan Trophy was refurbished by Weir’s in 2016-2017, when all blemishes were painstakingly removed.

Rathdonnell’s hunter Sandboy came 2nd from 40 entrants in the hunter class for weight-carrying hunters 15 stone and over, six years old or over.

Aug 11: ‘WIDOW’S FALL TO DEATH. Mrs McMurrough Kavanagh, widow of the late Mr McMurrough Kavanagh, Co. Carlow, formerly a member of the Irish Parliamentary Party, fell out of a window Salthill, Monkstown, Co. Dublin, yesterday morning. She succumbed, later, to her injuries.’ [158]

Above: Tom Rathdonnell can be seen walking between the Governor General Tim Healy and a man who may well be the Aga Khan at the Dublin Horse Show in 1926.

Dec: As chairman of the Great Northern Brewery in Dundalk, established in 1896, Lord Rathdonnell welcomes a visit from President WT Cosgrove, his ADC, Colonel O’Reilly and the Dundalk born Minister for Defence, Peter Hughes. Incidentally, I did some historical work for Irish Whiskey Assets in 2018-2019, for which I was paid in malt whiskey – a cask that was distilled at the Great Northern Distillery (John Teeling), which was founded on the site of the former Great Northern Brewery.



According to the Belfast News-Letter (24 May 1929, p. 14), the 2nd Baron Rathdonnell ‘undertook a trip to South America two years ago,’ which would be 1927 – I know no more of this yet.

Feb 6: Death of Sam Maguire aged 48. He was the only Protestant ever to captain a GAA team. He hailed from Dunmanaway, Co. Cork. He was an active member of the IRB, assisting in gun-running plots to kidnap British MPs and, allegedly, in the assassination of Sir Henry Wilson, MP for North Down, in 1922. A year after his death, Sam Maguire is honoured by a Cup, made by Hopkins & Hopkins and modelled on the Ardagh Chalice, was presented to Kildare GAA. The Hopkins are linked to Knocknagan, County Carlow.

Feb 10: Frederick Augustine Sterling becomes the first US Ambassador to the Irish Free State. Born in St Louis, Missouri, Sterling managed a cattle ranch in his youth, which must have appealed to Rathdonnell, before working as a woollen manufacturer. An experienced career diplomat, he helped negotiate Ireland’s entry into the League of Nations. He also played a key role in the signing of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, or Pact of Paris, in  1928 in a noble but unsuccessful effort to prevent a second world war.

May 20: The opening hours of Irish public houses are restricted by the Intoxicating Liquor Act.

May 21: Charles Lindberg makes aviation history as first person to fly solo across the Atlantic from Paris to New York in the Spirit of St Louis.

Aug 4: John Dillon, the last leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, died in a London nursing home at the age of 76. He was buried four days later in Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin. There is a street named after him in Dublin’s Liberties, beside the old Iveagh Market.

October 7: Death of Edward Cecil Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh, aged 79. During the War of Independence, he toyed with the idea of relocating the Guinness brewery to London (Park Royal) as Ireland seemed on the cusp of becoming a socialist republic. As it happened, the country came under the control of Cosgrave’s catholic conservative government which persuaded Guinness to stay via juicy tax incentives and a Senator’s seat for Lord Iveagh.

November 29: ‘Lord Rathdonnell, who was 79 yesterday, spends most of his time at Lisnavagh, his charming place near Rathvilly. He married in 1874 Katherine Anne, daughter of the late Right Hon. Henry Bruen, of Oak Park, Co. Carlow, and has one son, Captain the Hon. Thomas Leopold M’Clintock Bunbury, and three daughters.’ Belfast News-Letter, 30 November 1927.

December 8: Tom Rathdonnell (as President of the RDS) attends funeral in Straffan of Bertram Barton, D.L., of Straffan House, heir of the Barton & Guestier wines, who was killed in a hunting accident three days earlier.

December 24: Death of Tom’s brother-in-law, Henry Bruen, aged 71.

Sinn Fein’s Tomas O Deirg, a veteran of 1916, is elected FF TD for Co/. Carlow, a seat he retains until his death in 19 Nov 1956.

A highly respected man who lived at Knockboy in the 1880s and who represented Rathvilly for many years on the Baltinglass Board of Guardians, stated that often on a summer’s night he heard the music of a military band, or military music, begin faintly about Lisnavagh, get clearer and more distinct as it approached Knockboy, and then gradually die away as it approached the place where the battle was supposed to have been fought. This is supposed to have been King Art Mac Murrough’s Band. [159]




Lord Rathdonnell with Harry Franks, Tatler, May 1928.

Mick Purcell found entries for Lord Rathdonnell in a 1928 account book from Oliver’s Butcher’s Shop, 14 Dublin Street, Carlow, where many of the local gentry appear to have shopped.

Feb 8: ‘Lord Rathdonnell arrived at Plymouth yesterday from Madeira in the Blue Star Line Avelona.’ (Western Morning News, 9 February 1928)

February 15: Death of H. H. Asquith, former prime minister.

February 17: Foot & Mouth Disease (FMD) confirmed on a farm in Wexford town.

March 22: FMD confirmed on two adjoining farms in Wexford. One hundred and seventy-nine animals were destroyed. It was suggested at the time that meat imported from South America might be the source of the infection. Trade restrictions were removed on 3 August.

March: Death of Tom Rathdonnell’s friend and agent Leonard Poe, “a loss which touched him very deeply”. Tom returns from a visit to South Africa soon afterwards.

May 2: Opening of Baltinglass Golf Club.

August: Tom Rathdonnell was in the arena when the Irish won the Aga Khan trophy for the first time; Captains Dan Corry, Ged O’Dwyer and Cyril Harty, riding Finglin, Cuchulain and Craobh Ruadh, duly stepped up to hoist the trophy. The RDS have a photo of the occasion, in which Tom is clearly visible.

Sept 29: Rathdonnell sells a filly by name of Sun Girl to Mr. E. T. Molynenx. She was sired by Sungirt, dam by Eqnes, g.d. by Roman Emperor.

November 11: On Armistice Day 1928, the statue of William of Orange outside Trinity was blown up; the shell was so precarious it had to be taken down; its lead was used to plug holes in the Liffey. Simultaneous attack on statue of George II while a bomb at Herbert Park, near the RDS, significantly damaged a fountain honouring Edward VII who had launched the International Exhibition there back in 1907.

November 15-16: Alleged malicious burning of John Molyneux K’Eogh’s house at Kilbride, near Altamont, Tullow, County Carlow.

November 29: Tom enters “select ranks of octogenarians” and celebrates 50th year since he succeeded his uncle as Baron Rathdonnell.

December 11: Men enter Dublin Corporation Yard on Hanover Street where William of Orange statue lay, saw the head off and disappear.

December 20: The members of the Royal Dublin Society re-elect Tom for a further term of office as President. His term had now lasted fifteen years. His portrait by Sir Oswald Birley, signed and dated 1928, was located in the RDS Council Room as of August 2012. Sir Oswald’s wife was Rhoda Lecky Pike of Kilnock House, Tullow, County Carlow: their granddaughter Loulou de la Falaise was the late Knight of Glin’s first wife.


In 1929, a new boiler system was installed at Lisnavagh, comprising a 3-section boiler from Crane of Whitehall. It was the height of ingenuity at the time, requiring no engines. I spent most of 2007 filling the No. 2 section and keeping its flues clean.

February: Tom Rathdonnell is presented with Oswald Birley’s portrait of him in oils by the RDS. He duly presented it to the Society, where it hangs in the Council Chamber today.

February 5: Eamon de Valera is arrested in Armagh for violating the Northern Ireland Government’s exclusion order and spends a month in prison.

February 22: Dail Eireann ratifies the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact over opposition of Fianna Fail Party.

March 22: 66 horses run in Irish Grand National Sweepstakes; Alike wins the race.

April 16: Northern Ireland abandons proportional representation in parliamentary elections. Prime Minister Craig declares that people do not understand the danger of making mistakes under the system. Critics charge that the change is designed to allow the regime to secure its hold on power through gerrymandering of electoral districts.

April 18:  Sun Girl, formerly belonging to Rathdonnell, competes in the Bishopscourt Cup at Punchestown.

May 16: The 1st Academy Awards are presented in Hollywood, with ‘Wings’ winning Best Picture.

Spring Show: As the re-elected President of the RDS, Tom attends and his picture appears in The Tatler on Wednesday 29 May 1929, describing him as ‘a great personality … taking the keenest interest’. Pictured with him (and his walrus moustache) as he strolled around the Spring Show were his daughter Pauline Bramwell and Captain R. H. Fowler, joint master of the Meath Hunt. However, according to the Belfast News-Letter (24 May 1929, p. 14), he had a seizure after the show “from which he never rallied

May 22: Death of Tom Rathdonnell at Lisnavagh at the age of 81. His death certificate attributes it to five days of cerebral congestion and something I can’t quite read that ends in ‘**aemia’, while there was also a clerical error of some description or other. John Langham was ‘present at death.’ His death was registered with The Times. There was to be a private funeral at St Mary’s Church in Rathvilly. “No mourning or flowers, by request“.

A Celtic Cross was erected over his grave, coinciding with a time when the Church of Ireland was keen to underline its roots in the Celtic Church. The Bishop of Clogher, for instance, ordered a new crozier from Weir’s the jeweller, with Celtic motifs on it. Prior to then pectoral crosses, episcopal rings and even croziers were eschewed, being considered “Roman”. Dad thinks the cross may have been erected a few years earlier – perhaps after Kate? It may have been by a man called Taylor, who often did crosses for Glasnevin. The inscribed stone to Tom and Kate was in poor repair by 2018. On 4 January 2019, my father advised: ‘I, eventually, had a look at Thomas Kane’s gravestone this morning. The panel is indeed broken and “came away in my hand”! I have removed it and will consult as to what to do next; I am sure it can be repaired. I will inform churchwardens.’ My father subsequently patched it together himself, while David Halligan completed the restoration of the grave in November 2021.

The last known photograph of Tom Rathdonnell, from The Tatler, 29 May 1929.

May 22: General Election in Northern Ireland – Members are elected single member districts except for 4 representatives of Queen’s University who continue to be chosen by proportional representation. The results are Unionists (37), Nationalists (11), Independent Unionists (1) and Labour (1).

May 24: An obituary to Tom is published in page 7 of The Irish Times.

May 28: Death of historian and nationalist, Alice Stopford Green, in Dublin. Born in Kells, County Meath, in 1847, she was a direct contemporary of Tom and had a house at 90 St Stephen’s Green, a cultural hub, at the same time the Bruen sisters were living in the green.

May 29: The Tatler publish Tom’s photo from the Spring Show but make no mention of his death. This is the last photograph of him to be taken that I know of. You should find it here.

May 25 (May 29?): An obituary to TKMB is published on page 16 of The Times and reads:

‘Lord Rathdonnell, in the peerage of Ireland, died on Wednesday at Lisavanagh [sic], Co. Carlow, in his 81st year. Thomas Kane McClintock Bunbury was born in November 1848 and in 1879 succeeded to the title by special remainder on the death of his uncle, the first peer, who was M.P. for Co. Louth. He went to Eton in 1859, to the Rev. J.W. Hawtrey’s house, the Rev. Edmond Warre being his tutor. He was in the Eton Eight in 1867 and was captain of boats in 1868: Eton won the Ladies’ Plate in both years. He also played in Oppidian Wall and Mixed Wall and in Field XI. He left in 1868 and received a commission in the Scots Greys.
As the famous coach, JW Warre, was his tutor, he probably had little choice but to row. In the Ladies’ of 1867 he rowed at ‘6’ at 10 stone 1 pound. He was Captain of Boats, but did not row, in 1868.
Rathdonnell’s son, the Hon William, stroked the Eton crew to victory in the Ladies’ in 1896 at the weight of 9 stone 11 pounds. He was commissioned into the family regiment but was killed in the South African War in 1900.
John William McClintock Bunbury was Captain of Lower Boats in 1867 and stroked Eton in the winning Ladies’ crews of 1868 and 1869 at 10 stone 11 pounds. The ’68 crew set a record time of 7 minutes 18 seconds. In the 1869 Henley he also stroked Eton’s Grand crew which lost in a heat to the final winners by ¾ of a length. In 1871 he was ‘7’ in the losing Boat Race crew, won the Oxford University Sculls, lost in the first round of the Diamonds but won the Grand, rowing at ‘4’ for Oxford Etonians. He died young in 1893.’

Celtic Cross over grave of the 2nd Baron Rathdonnell, St Mary’s, Rathvilly.

May 31: The British general election returns a hung parliament yet again; the Liberals will determine who has power.

June 8: Ramsay MacDonald founds a new Labour government.

June 24: Celebrations to mark the centenary of Catholic Emancipation end in Dublin with a Pontifical High Mass in the Phoenix Park attended by 300,000 people, and a procession to Watling Street Bridge followed by Benediction. Is this what compelled the pope to do what he did next day?

July 11: The reconstructed GPO is formally reopened by WT Cosgrave.

July 25: Pope Pius XI emerges from the Vatican and enters St. Peter’s square in a huge procession witnessed by about 250,000 persons, thus ending nearly 60 years of papal self-imprisonment within the Vatican.

August 16: The 1929 Palestine riots breaks out between Palestinians and Jews and continues until the end of the month. In total, 133 Jews and 116 Palestinians are killed.

August 31: The Young Plan, which set the total World War I reparations owed by Germany at US$26,350,000,000 to be paid over a period of 58½ years, is finalized.

September 19: The Irish Times published some details of Tom’s will, stating that he had left £19,739 1s 2d in England. From this he left £100 to his butler, Lewis Kaye, and £50 each to his steward, Henry Giff, and his gamekeeper, Charles Nicholl. Any man who had been his servant for more than three years was given 6 months wages. This latter bequest sounds rather generous.

He gave £200 to his son-in-law Colonel Colvin and the residue of the property to his son, TLMB, who succeeds to the Barony. His daughters are provided for under settlements. Probate is granted to his son-in-law Colonel Forrester Farnell Colvin of Shermanbury grange, Hosrham, Sussex“.

Lord Rathdonnell’s interests as President of the Royal Dublin Society were primarily agricultural. After his death in 1929, the RDS elected John Joly. The election came shortly after a decree that the term of office for a President be reduced from a life appointment to three years. According to Terence de Vere White, the purpose of this decree was twofold. It enabled the Society to honour more of its distinguished members whilst simultaneously “avoided the embarrassments which longevity sometimes produces“. This would imply that Rathdonnell had perhaps lived considerably longer than he was meant to!

Irish Hospitals Sweepstake begins.

John Joseph White of Beech Hill, grandfather of Gordon Merry, was apparently in charge of buying cattle for Lisnavagh during Tom Rathdonnell’s reign – as well as being agent for Rathsallagh and Ballinure.



November 4: Death of Tom Rathdonnell’s sister-in-law, Agnes Mary McMurrough Bruen (née Kavanagh), widow of Henry Bruen.



Mr. Gerald Boland (for Mr. Smith) asked the Minister for Lands and Fisheries if he could ‘state the area and valuation of the demesne lands of the following: Viscount Lascelles, Viscount Powerscourt, and Lord Rathdonnell.’ Mr. Roddy duly replied that ‘Lord Rathdonnell appears to be the owner of Demesne lands in Co. Carlow comprising some 1,291 acres—Poor Law Valuation £1,052.’ (See Oireachtas report).

19 June: Foot and Mount Disease confirmed in Downpatrick, Co. Down, on the farm of a Mr Hutton from whence it spread to Westmoreland, Lancaster and Yorkshire North Riding. The origin of the infection was not determined, but the introduction of animal feed from the continent was believed to have been the source. Trade restrictions were removed on 23 August.




Eucharistic Congress overshadows second Tailteann Games.

Blue Shirts in ascendance.




October 30th: IRA Land Application Claims from War of Independence ongoing as evidenced by this document from the Pat Purcell Papers. In 1934 Sean Oglaigh na h-Eireann (Old Irish Republican Party) had an address at 3 Davis Street, Tipperary and the secretary was Con Moloney. He had been appointed Deputy Chief of Staff of the IRA in February 1923. According to a letter dated 1935 from Con Moloney the total membership was 1,335 forming 66 Companies. Of the 49 members registered in Carlow at this time, 36 were from Rathvilly / Hacketstown. As Michael Purcell pointed out, this was presumably because Con’s brother Jim Moloney, who worked in the Carlow Sugar Beet Factory, was married to Kathleen Barry from Tombeagh, Hacketstown, Rathvilly, sister of Kevin Barry. [160]

[Note added 2010: We are unsure of the provenance of the following, it appears to be based on the promise of a division of land to men who served in the Irish Republican Army during the troubles. Some are countersigned by Pat Purcell. There are 108 forms in total, historians who have viewed them are puzzled by the content. They may be unique to Carlow.]

Application Form for Allotment of Land.

(Qu. ) Old Brigade Area?                                             (Ans.) 3rd Batt.

Old Battalion Area?                                                     D. Company, Carlow Brigade?

County?                                                                     Carlow.

Name of Estate?                                                        Lord Rathdonnell’s Estate.

Townsland?                                                               Monavothe and Ballyoliver (Brewster’s Estate, Coole).

Applicant’s Name?                                                     John Fenlon.

Address?                                                                  Williamstown, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow.

Age and family circumstances?                                 50 years — Single.

Experience of working land?                                      I have experience in working 14 acres which I hold.

Can applicant stock and equip land?                          Yes.

Extent of acreage sought?                                         22 acres.

Other qualifications, beside I.R.A. service?                 Small Farmer.

(state above if discharged employee, evicted tenant, landless man residing in the locality, cottier living on or near the estate, migrant, etc. )

Particulars of above?                                               Quarter of a mile from Monavothe. Valuation £14 pound.                                                                             Annually £6- 9 shillings and 11 pence. I am able to pay rates and annuities etc. Holding worked by tillage and                                                                              grazing. Number of cattle in my possession 5.

I certify, from my own knowledge and from enquiries made, that applicant, who is a member of Sean-Oglaigh na h-Eireann, has had I.R.A. service as ….Volunteer in D. Coy 3rd Battalion, Carlow Brigade and that his period of service dated from July 1920 to Truce.

(Signed ) J.J. Byrne, Battn. Secretary. Date 30th October 1934.




July 25: Death of Tom’s youngest daughter, Pauline Dalgety, probably in agony as, being a Christian Scientist, she refused all medication.




February 16: Death of Tom’s son-in-law, Lt Col Forrester Colvin.



September 28: Death of TLMB, 3rd Baron Rathdonnell. Tom’s grandson William Robert McClintock Bunbury, known as Bill, succeeds as 4th Baron. Bill was my grandfather.






[1] Weekly Irish Times, p. 1.

[2] The Carlow Nationalist, Saturday 25 April 1914, via Pat Purcell Papers. Also present at the 1914 meeting were: Thomas Murphy, Patrick Lawler, John Murphy, J.D. McGrath, J. Brennan, William Purcell, Edward Duggan, John Foley, W.J. Jackson, J.D. McCarthy. Mr. W.A. Lawler, Town Clerk and Mr. Cardery, B.S. Councillor William Purcell referred to above was grandfather to J.J. Woods and uncle to the late Pat Purcell, 1895-1994, Killeshin /Carlow.

[3] The Irish Times, p. 10.

[4] Weekly Irish Times, p. 4.

[5] Weekly Irish Times, p. 5.

[6] Weekly Irish Times, p. 7.

[7] Dublin Daily Express, Thursday 4 March 1915.

[8] Freeman’s Journal, 14 April 1915; The Agricultural Gazette and Modern Farming, Volume 81, 19 April 1915.

[9] Newcastle Journal, 9 June 1915.

[10] The Nationalist and Leinster Times, Saturday 26th June 1915, with thanks to Michael Purcell.

[11] Daily Record, Lanarkshire, Tuesday 14 September 1915.

[12] In 1915 A. Watchorn subscribed 12/- (twelve shillings) to St. Mary’s Church Sustentation. By 1929, Abraham Watchorn, the father of the dead soldier, was giving £1.10.0. The 1934 account reveals Frank Watchorn, brother of the soldier, giving the same amount whilst the accounts list a Mr. & Mrs. Watchorn subscribing from 1970 right through to 1982. They may have been related to Joan Watchorn who worked at Lisnavagh in the late 1970s and early 1980s. These details added by my father, April 2013.

[13] Max Caulfield, The Easter Rebellion, pp. 221.

[14] Foy and Barton, The Easter Rising, p. 117.

[15] Seamus Doyle, Witness Statement 166, Bureau of Military History, p. 6

[16] Eileen McGregor, ‘Edward O’Toole, 1860-1943: Rathvilly schoolteacher and nationalist’.

[17] Stair na hÉireann.

[18] Weekly Freeman’s Journal, 15 December 1917.

[19] Weekly Freeman’s Journal – Saturday 30 March 1918.

[20] Pat Purcell Papers.

[21] Thanks to Michael Purcell.

[22] The following is a short extract from, “Ireland’s Declaration of Independence” issued by the First Dail on 21st January 1919 and published on a Poster in the Pat Purcell Papers (in Irish and in English):
Whereas the Irish people is by right a free people:
And whereas for seven hundred years the Irish people has never ceased to repudiate and has repeatedly protested in arms against foreign usurpation;
And whereas English rule in this country is, and always has been based upon force and fraud and maintained by military occupation against the declared will of the people :
And whereas the Irish Republic was proclaimed in Dublin on Easter Monday , 1916, by the Irish Republican army, acting on behalf of the Irish people:
And whereas the Irish people is resolved to secure and maintain its complete independence in order to promote the common weal, to re-establish justice , to provide for future defence, to ensure peace at home and good will with all nations, and to constitute a national policy based upon the people’s will, with equal right and equal opportunity for every citizen:
And whereas at the threshold of a new era in history the Irish electorate has in the General Election of December 1918, seized the first occasion to declare by an overwhelming majority its firm allegiance to the Irish Republic:
Now , therefore , we , the elected Representatives of the ancient Irish people in National Parliament assembled, do, in the name of the Irish nation, ratify the establishment of the Irish Republic and pledge ourselves and our people to make this declaration effective by every means at out command:
We solemnly declare foreign government in Ireland to be an invasion of our national right which we will never tolerate, and we demand the evacuation of our country by the English Garrison :
We claim for our national independence the recognition and support of every free nation in the world, and we proclaim that independence to be a condition precedent to international peace hereafter :
In the name of the Irish People we humbly commit our destiny to Almighty God Who gave our fathers the courage and determination to persevere through long centuries of a ruthless tyranny, and strong in the justice of the cause which they have handed down to us, we ask His Divine blessing on this the last stage of the struggle we have pledged ourselves to carry through to freedom.”

[23] The Carlow Sentinel.

[24] The Carlow Sentinel.

[25] The Carlow Sentinel.

[26] The Carlow Sentinel.

[27] See Come Here to Me for more.

[28] Extracted from the Pat Purcell Papers.

[29] The Carlow Sentinel.

[30] The Carlow Sentinel.

[31] The Nationalist, Saturday 3rd May 1919.

[32] Isabella Cole had three brothers, William (b. c. 1881), Nathaniel (b. c. 1886) and Thomas Henry (b. c. 1890).

[33] The Irish Times, 28 July 1919.

[34] ROLL OF HONOUR. LIEUTENANT M.A. FOLEY. A very deep and wide-spread regret was caused to his many relatives and friends in Carlow, his native county, by the announcement of the death of Lieutenant [Michael Alphonsus] Foley, while serving with the Leinster Regiment in Egypt, at the age of 22. He was a son of Mr. Michael Foley, J.P. Leighlin House, and nephew the Lord Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, and Rev. Dr. Foley, President of Carlow College. When the war broke out he was a student of the University College, Dublin. He received his commission in 1916, and was on active service from that time until the time of his death. At Monday’s meeting of Carlow Urban District Council a resolution of sympathy was passed to Mr. and Mrs. Foley, and other members of the family, and a fitting tribute paid to the memory of deceased. [Carlow Memorial says he died 25-4-1919 and that he was aged 25] [From the Pat Purcell Papers]

[35] Thanks to Pat Coulter and Michael Purcell.

[36] Courtesy of the Pat Purcell Papers.

[37] Carlow Sentinel, courtesy of the Pat Purcell Papers.

[38] There was an Agar family living at Janeville, Fenagh, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow, but this is a different branch; on 11 Sept 1908, Thomas Agar, son of the late William Agar of that address, married Louisa Jane, eldest daughter of the late Robert Dunlop, Lisduff, Co. Longford. (Weekly Irish Times, Saturday, Sept 26, 1908). With thanks to Cecil Mills

[39] Weekly Irish Times, Saturday, April 18, 1908, p. 22.

[40] Thanks to John McCarthy.

[41] Thanks to Michael Purcell, the Pat Purcell papers & Carlow Roostweb.

[42] Pat Purcell Papers.

[43] The Irish Times, Saturday, July 30, 1927, p. 4. The Irish Times give a fairly full analysis of the inquest into Constable Agar’s death in the Weekly Irish Times, Saturday, 8 November 1919, p. 1. See also The Times, November 4, 1919, p. 14;

[44] Ballymena Observer, 30 January 1920.

[45] Carlow Sentinel, 21 Feb 1920, via the Pat Purcell Papers.

[46] Major Arthur Ffolliott Garrett was educated at Clifton College and Woolwich ‘whence after being second at his entrance, he past out first of his year gaining the Pollock Medal and obtaining a commission into the Royal Engineers. For some time he served in India in the Railway Branch of the Public Works Department. Later he became assistant state Engineer of Jeypore State, where he received his first training as an irrigation engineer from the late Col. Sir Swinton Jacob. After further experience on the railway surveys he became State Engineer of Alwar State, and successfully applied his Theory of arched Masonry Dams to the construction of the Agar Dam. It was however by his work connection with the Irrigation branch of the Public Works Department in the Central Provinces that he is specially distinguished himself. He revolutionised the design of reservoir spill-ways which effected a considerable saving of expense of the Government and followed this up by designing a hydraulic system for irrigation canals which has since been largely adopted on every province throughout India. On the Outbreak of the War in 1914 he was recalled to Military duties. He was wounded in the Suvla Bay landing at Gallipoli in 1915, and afterwards was sent to India, where he was appointed A.C.R.E. at Karachi. On the Outbreak of the Afghan was he was appointed C.R.E. of the second Division. Later in the intense heat in the Peshawar, his health broke down and despite a short rest in the hills, he was attacked by Malaria in an acute form, and was order home. He died, however in a hospital at Marseilles on 28th March 1920 aged 44. Major Garrett was greatly interested in astronomy, and restored the old Observatory at Jeypore while stationed there as State Engineer. He also possessed a large reflecting telescope and intended in the days of greater leisure to which he looked forward to devote his time largely to science.’ (Obituary, Physics and Astronomy News). (from the Pat Purcell Papers)

[47] For more on Paddy Ryan and his father, Dr. Valentine Ryan, who once looked after Parnell, see this by Frank McNally’s Irishman’s Diary from The Irish Times (April 29th 2010). They are related to the O’Gorman’s of Carlow, Marc-Ivan and his family.

[48] The Nationalist, kindly transcribed by Michael Purcell.

[49] Calton Younger: Ireland’s Civil War.

[50] Jimmy O’Toole, The Carlow Gentry, p. 90.

[51] Bushell, p. 48.

[52] Michael Purcell had this story confirmed by Pat Purcell, May Gibney and Robert Browne-Clayton of Browne’s Hill.

[53] The Irish Times, Sat 29 May 1920.

[54] The Times.

[55] Courtesy of Michael Purcell.

[56] Carlow Nationalist, June 1920. From the Pat Purcell Papers.

[57] Carlow Nationalist, June 1920.  From the Pat Purcell Papers.

[58] From the Pat Purcell Papers

[59] Carlow Sentinel, Saturday Morning, July 17th 1920. From the Pat Purcell Papers.

[60] From the Pat Purcell Papers.

[61] Carlow Sentinel, August 1920, Pat Purcell Papers.

[62] Weekly Freeman’s Journal, 7 August 1920.

[63] The Nationalist, Notes by Tatler.

[64] See ‘Police Casualties in Ireland 1919 to 1921’ by Richard Abbott.

[65] Dublin Evening Telegraph, Saturday 4 September 1920.

[66] This was the Carlow Nationalist’s account:

The shooting of three policemen – two of whom died – in Tullow on Wednesday night last was followed by “reprisals” which terrorised the inhabitants of the prosperous little town, which had been immune and peaceable up to the time the appalling tragedies were enacted on Wednesday night.
Details of the shooting are lacking, as the policemen stationed in Tullow are very reticent in connection with the occurrence. From the meagre information available it appears that four policemen were on patrol duty on the Dublin Road and were returning in the direction of Tullow at about 9.30pm when they were ambushed. Constable Goughan was shot dead and Constable Delaney lived only a short time later while Constable Halloran was seriously wounded. On Wednesday night large numbers of soldiers arrived in the town and carried out an exhaustive search in many houses.
At 10.45 the first signal of the night’s terror was given by rifle shots which were kept up incessantly during the next three hours. The explosion of a bomb at the business front of Murphy Bros. spirit grocers, Bridge Street, set the extensive building into flames. Indescribable confusion followed. The panic-stricken people sought refuge and shelter a distance from the town.
The business premises became a sea of flames, illuminating the whole town. There was no means of checking the fire available nearer then Carlow 8 miles away. A telephone message to first officer Rogers brought the Carlow Volunteer Fire Brigade with the assistance of Mr Governey’s motor lorry, which he kindly placed at their disposal.
The brigade succeeded in controlling the flames, which were completely extinguished by the following morning. Many houses suffered from considerable damage in the way of broken doors, windows etc. In the “Irish Bar” goods taken away or damaged are estimated to be valued£100. The scene of the destruction was the finest portion of the town.

[67] Carlow Sentinel. Sept. 1920.

[68] With thanks to Michael Purcell who sent me an extract from Geoff Simmons and Eoin Shanahan’s book, “West Clare History’, sub-heading ‘The story of the Burial Alive and Drowning of a Clare RM in 1920.’

[69] Nationalist and Leinster Times. From the Pat Purcell Papers.

[70] Carlow Sentinel. Pat Purcell Papers.

[71] Carlow Nationalist, October 1920, via Pat Purcell Papers. Note added by Michael Purcell 2011: Patrick Gaffney died on 23rd July 1943 while serving a prison sentence because of his allegiance to the Republic of Ireland. He became better known as Padraig Mac Gamhna. There is a plaque erected to his memory at Charlie Byrne’s shop on Tullow Street. A road is also named in his honour.

[72] N.D McMillan and D. Foot, ‘One Hundred and Fifty Years of Cricket and Sport in County Carlow’, pp. 4-5.

[73] ‘On Parole .—Mr. Tom Kehoe, Rathnagrew, was granted ten days parole from Sunday. November 20th, out of Kilmainham jail where he has been confined for several months. He spent last week with his parents and was the recipient everywhere he appeared of many hearty greetings from his numerous friends.’ Wicklow People – Saturday 03 December 1921.

[74] Click here for a detailed article about Tom Kehoe (Keogh) by Gary Deering, including photographs and details of what he and Michael McDonnell did with the Squad, posted on 13th May, 2017. See also article about Mick McDonnell by Shay Courtney, and extracted from ‘Cnoc an Eanaigh Knockananna: the Hill of the Marsh: stories of Knockananna’ from yesteryear published by Knockananna History Book Committee in 2006.

[75] Belfast Newsletter, 26 November 1920.

[76] Eve Morrisson, ‘Kilmichael: The Life and Afterlife of an Ambush’ (Irish Academic Press, 2022).

[77] The Nationalist, via the Pat Purcell Papers.

[78] The Nationalist, via the Pat Purcell Papers.

[79] The Nationalist.

[80] The Nationalist.

[81] The Nationalist, via the Pat Purcell Papers.

[82] Pat Purcell Papers.

[83] According to Revolvy: “The British garrison in Roscommon town mounted a sweep directly after the ambush with eight lorries and one Whippet Tank. Three volunteers who had taken part were arrested afterward. Pat Mullooly and Brian Nagle, both from the North Roscommon Brigade were arrested, as they tried to get away from the scene of the ambush, as was “Cushy” Hughes, who was picked up when he was drawing his soldier’s pension in Roscommon. Pat Mullooly and Nagle were badly beaten by their captors on the road to Roscommon. The next day, another Volunteer, Michael Mullooly (brother of Pat) was shot dead in his home by the RIC.”

[84] From a handbill in Carlow, via the Pat Purcell Papers.

[85] Pat Purcell Papers.

[86] Pat Purcell Papers.

[87] Transcribed by Mary Corcoran – unusual entries in Carlow Cathedral Death Register. Pat Purcell Papers.

[88] The Nationalist via the Pat Purcell Papers.

[89] The Nationalist via the Pat Purcell Papers.

[90] Thanks to Michael Purcell.

[91] Nationalist and Leinster Times, via the Pat Purcell Papers.

[92] Nationalist and Leinster Times, 2 July 1921. Thanks to Michael Purcell.

[93] The Nationalist and Leinster Times, 27 June 1921.

[94] Nationalist and Leinster Times (2nd July 1921, via the Pat Purcell Papers.

[95] With thanks to Ray Halpin.

[96] The Nationalist and Leinster Times, 2 July 1921.

[97] Nationalist and Leinster Times via the Pat Purcell Papers.

[98] Pat Purcell Papers.

[99] The Nationalist.

[100] Pat Purcell Papers. See here for more. In 1962, Dr. Farnan donated his 300 acre farm and Castle to the Cistercian community of monks, now known as Bolton Abbey. President de Valera laid the foundation stone of the new church in 1964.

[101] The Nationalist & Leinster Times.

[102] Pat Purcell Papers, with thanks to Michael Purcell.

[103] For more see here. Pat Purcell Papers, with thanks to Michael Purcell.

[104] Irish Society and Social Review, Saturday 27 August 1921.

[105] The Nationalist and Leinster Times, August 1921, via PPP, with thanks to Michael Purcell.

[106] Nationalist, 21 September 1921 via Pat Purcell Papers.

[107] The Nationalist, 15 December 1921 via Pat Purcell Papers.

[108] The Nationalist, via Pat Purcell Papers.

[109] The Nationalist, via Pat Purcell Papers.

[110] Belfast News-Letter – Friday 20 January 1922. For more comprehensive details of this meeting, see the Londonderry Sentinel, 21 January 1922, which adds that about 60 people attended the meeting.

[111] Pat Purcell Papers.

[112] Nationalist, January 1922, extracted from Pat Purcell Papers by Michael Purcell.

[113] Transcribed by Jean Casey on behalf of Michael Purcell.

[114] Stair na hÉireann.

[115] The Nationalist and Leinster Times, via Pat Purcell Papers.

[116] Paddy’s great-nephew Len Costello contacted me in this regard in September 2015 and runs the Portlaoise Facebook group.

[117] St George’s Gazette 1922, via Pat Purcell Papers.

[118] Pat Purcell Papers.

[119] Tatler, The Nationalist. (Pat Purcell Papers)

[120] Courtesy of Michael Purcell, Carlow Brigade Review.

[121] The full list is on line, thanks to Michael Purcell and Jean Casey.

[122] Pat Purcell Papers, with thanks to Michael Purcell.

[123] Pat Purcell Papers, with thanks to Michael Purcell.

[124] The Nationalist & Leinster Times, 11 March 1922, p. 8). (See Paul Gorry, ‘The Baltinglass Chronicles, p.189.

[125] The Times, March 7, 1922, p.1.

[126] Letter in the Pat Purcell Papers.

[127] Detail from Michael Purcell, 2010.

[128] Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland.

[129] Missive on burning of property, including Big Houses, courtesy of document in the Pat Purcell PapersWith thanks to Grace Bunbury.

[130] Paul Gorry, Baltinglass Chronicles, page 190.

[131] The Nationalist and Leinster Times, with thanks to Michael Purcell.

[132] The Irish Times, Tuesday July 18th 1922.

[133] Nationalist and Leinster Times, courtesy of Michael Purcell and the Pat Purcell Papers.

[134] The Carlow Nationalist, 22 July 1922.

[135] The Carlow Nationalist, 22 July 1922.

[136] Freeman’s Journal, 5th August 1923, p. 7.

[137] The Times, August 17, 1922, p. 10.

[138] The Nationalist, transcribed by Jean Casey for Carlow Rootsweb.

[139] Connacht Tribune, Saturday, September 23, 1922, p. 5.

[140] Irish Society (Dublin) – Saturday 30 September 1922.

[141] Pat Purcell Papers.

[142] Pat Purcell Papers.

[143] Pat Purcell Papers.

[144] The Nationalist.

[145] “The sources for the Eamon de Valera statement on “house burnings” were recorded in a letter, dated Dec 1922, from de Valera to P.J. Ruttledge, Minister for Home Affairs in the Republican Government, and another letter, written in the same month, from de Valera to Liam Lynch, Chief of Staff of the Republican Army. [de Valera Archives, University College Dublin].”

“It is believed that Erskine Childers was a major influence on de Valera, regarding his policy on the “burnings” and in his dealings with “The Gentry”. This was confirmed to me some years ago by Robert Browne-Clayton when he relayed a story concerning Browne’s Hill estate in Carlow.”

(Courtesy of Michael Purcell & the Pat Purcell Papers)

[146] Terrible County Carlow Tragedy –  Young man shot dead. On Friday week an appalling tragedy was enacted in the house of Mr. E. S. Maffett, solr., Thornville, Palatine, Carlow. The facts are that Edward Snoddy, aged about 18, formerly of the Blackbog, and J. Bermingham, Kellistown, were fired at in Thornville, Palatine. Snoddy was shot in the back and Bermingham was shot through the jaw, the bullet entering one side and coming out the other. After the tragedy Miss Maffett cycled to the Carlow Military Barracks to give word and she came back in the lorry with the military, who conveyed the dead body of Snoddy to the barracks, and also the wounded man to the hospital, and placed a guard on the house.
Mr R. P. McDonald, Coroner, opened an inquest on Saturday. The following were sworn on the jury :- James Dunphy, J.P. Pidgeon, Garrett Hearns, Robert S. Moore, Jas. Corcoran, James Kelly, John Coakley, John O’Neill, Thomas Doyle, Thomas Doran, William O’Neill, Thomas Clarke, James O’Brien, Martin O’ Rourke, John O’Neill, John O’ Brien, Joseph Russel, Patrick Carpenter, John Byrne and James Doyle.
Patrick Snoddy, deceased’s father, identified the body as that of his son, who had been a railway porter. He was a political prisoner till quite recently. He last saw him about ten months ago. Doctor L. Doyle deposed to making a superficial examination of the body. He found a bullet wound in the back of right forearm, there was also a wound at the back of the left shoulder. It looked as if the shots were fired from behind. The inquest was adjourned.
On Saturday evening the remains were conveyed to the father’s residence, at Blackbog, where they lay overnight, numerous people coming to pay their respects to the dead and sympathy with the living. On Sunday, the interment took place in the family burial ground, Ballinacarrig, and the funeral was large, all classes, creeds and shades of political thought being represented. The funeral cortege was preceded by the Graiguecullen Fife and Drum Band, playing appropriate music along the route. There were several wreaths. Following the coffin was a large guard of honour, composed of the dead man’s comrades in the Carlow Brigade I.R.A. and also the Carlow Cumann na mBan. The general public followed. A volley was fired over the grave and the “Last Post” sounded, and the large crowds then dispersed. The following were the chief mourners:- Patrick and Mary Snoddy (parents). Sam, John, Michael, and Thomas, (brothers). Mrs Lizzie Leonard, Mrs Joe Phelan, Mrs Paddy Jones, Mrs Joe Redmond, Mrs Pat Purcell and Esther (sisters). Frank and Val Slater (uncles), Mrs Bridie Walsh (aunt). (Courtesy of Michael Purcell, son of Edward Snoddy’s sister).

[147] The Times, p. 18.

[148] Thanks to Ron Medulsion.

[149] The Irish Times, Sat 17 Feb 1923, p.4.

[150] The Irish Times, 15 March 1923.

[151] The Times.

[152] Northern Whig, Friday 13 July 1923 , p. 6.

[153] With thanks to Oliver Whelan.

[154] The Times, Wednesday August 15, 1923, p. 13.

[155] The Times, August 15, 1923, p. 7.

[156] Shorthorn Breeders’ Guide: With a Short History of the Breed and Its Capabilities, Accounts of Shows and Sales and Articles of General Interest to Shorthorn Breeders, 1924, p. 135.

[157] Coates’s Herd Book, Joseph Rogerson, 1923, p. 338.

[158] Western Daily Press, Thursday 12 August 1926.

[159] Béaloideas: The Journal of the Folklore of Ireland Society, 1927, p. 318.

[160] Thanks to Ron Medulsion.