Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Athy family connection with War of Independence

Recently I wrote of the local members of the old I.R.A. who were noted as members of the A Coy of the 5th Battalion Carlow Kildare brigade following the truce of July 1921. There were many family ties between members of the I.R.A. of 1921 and the Cumann na mBan members of that time. Amongst those named were Michael Dooley and John Bradley, the first named a shop keeper of Duke Street, the latter a resident of Offaly Street. The Dooley and Bradley families were connected by marriage as John Bradley’s sister Julia was married to the aforesaid Michael Dooley who was chairman of the Sinn Fein club in Athy. The two members of the Bradley family were joined by several members of the Dooley family in promoting the Irish Republican cause during the Irish War of Independence. The former Julia Bradley, by then married to Michael Dooley, was a member of the Athy branch of Cumann na mBan. Her three daughters were also actively involved in the Republican movement. Kathleen Dooley married Eamon Malone who was for a time Officer Commander of the Carlow Kildare I.R.A. brigade. Her sister Gypsy, who married Bill O’Neill of Newbridge, son of a former station master in Athy, was also a member of the Cumann na mBan. Another sister Hester married local man Joe May who following his arrest by crown forces in November 1920 was incarcerated in Ballykinlar prison camp for almost a year. Hester Dooley before her marriage to Joe May worked in Dublin as secretary to Piaras Beaslai and later General Ginger O’Connell. Joe May’s mother was Mrs. Margaret May of Woodstock Street who was another member of Athy’s Cumann na mBan. Another local family whose members, both male and female, were very actively involved in the Republican Movement was the Lambe family of Upper William Street. Alice Lambe was a member of Cumann na mBan, while her brothers Peter and Frank were active members of the I.R.A. 5th Battalion. Mrs. Julia Dooley, after whose husband Michael the 1934 Council housing estate Dooley’s Terrace was named, was the mother of Paddy Dooley who was first elected to the Dail as a Fianna Fail T.D. for County Kildare in 1959. The Dooley family, extending back over several generations, had possibly the greatest record of involvement in Athy’s municipal affairs than any other family in Athy. That involvement continues to this day with Brian Dooley’s recent appointment as a County Councillor for Athy’s municipal district. Patrick Dooley, brother of Michael Dooley, the Sinn Fein Chairman, was for many years chairman of Athy Urban District Council. It was a position also held by Michael’s son Paddy Dooley, later T.D., and his grandnephew Kieran Dooley. The current County Councillor Brian Dooley’s grandfather Michael was a son of Michael and Julia Dooley. Julia Dooley (nee Bradley) died at her home in St. Michael’s Terrace in August 1957 aged 89 years. Her story and that of the Dooley family as well as that of the Lambes, O’Rourkes, Mays, Bradleys and many other local families, some yet to be identified, is a story of commitment to the cause of Irish freedom in the face of constant harassment by crown forces in the years pre-dating the truce of July 1921. Those families whose members were involved in the I.R.A. or the Cumann na mBan underwent constant unwanted attention by R.I.C., the Black and Tans and the military. The lists of I.R.A. members and Cumann na mBan members included in Eye in the Past No. 1363 were compiled at the end of the truce by or for I.R.A. headquarters in Dublin. One could expect these records to be complete and accurate, but unfortunately they are not. Two omissions I mentioned in that article were the names of Sean Hayden and Eamon Malone. Another omission was that of James O’Keeffe of Ardreigh who later joined the Garda Siochana. He played an active part in the I.R.A. campaign which was later officially recognised, but yet his name is missing from the 1921 list. There may be many others overlooked and my research continues to record as accurately as possible the men and women who were part of the local republican movement of 1919-1921. I am anxious to get background information on Kathleen McDonnell and Rose McDonnell who were listed as Cumann na mBan members in 1921. I would welcome hearing from anyone who can give me information on the McDonnells, or indeed any of those men or women listed as members of the Old I.R.A. or Cumann na mBan in July 1921.

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