Thursday, March 6, 2003

Paddy Moran and Bloody Sunday - Patrick Moran killed Drogheda

On 19th March 1921 the Nationalist reported the execution in Mountjoy Jail of Patrick Moran from Crossna, Co. Roscommon. He was 33 years of age and had spent a number of years working as a shop assistant in Athy. Moran had earlier been found guilty by a courtmartial of complicity in the killing of a British Officer, Lieutenant Peter Aimes on what has now become known as “Bloody Sunday”. Aimes boarded at 38 Mount Street, Dublin, as did his colleague Lieutenant George Bennett. Early in the morning of Sunday, 21st November 1920 a number of men called to 38 Mount Street and on enquiring for Lieutenant Aimes were let in by the maid Katherine Farrell. The visitors who were armed with revolvers went upstairs and on entering Bennett’s room ordered him to get up. He was brought across the corridor into Aimes’ room where both men, believed to be members of the British Intelligence, were shot dead. That same morning a total of 14 British Officers were killed in Dublin. Patrick Moran with an address at Main Street, Blackrock and Joseph Rochford of Ranelagh were subsequently arrested and charged with the double killing. Both men were identified when put on an identity parade, although Rochford was subsequently acquitted when he proved that on the morning in question he was somewhere else. Moran was not so lucky as a number of witnesses came forward to identify him. These included a soldier held up by the raiders as they approached No. 38 Mount Street and who was brought into the house where he witnessed the shooting of Aimes and Bennett. Across the street from No. 38 lived another British Army Officer Major Carew who on being alerted by his servant watched the IRA men enter and later leave Aimes’ house. Although he was looking out from a fourth story window Carew was not prepared to accept any possibility of mistaken identity. Similar evidence was given by his servant. No less than 17 witnesses, not all of whom could be said to have Republican sympathies came forward to give evidence on Moran’s behalf. Many confirmed that in or around the time of the shooting they had seen him at Blackrock which was at least two miles distance from Mount Street. It was to no avail. When the trial concluded on 15th February 1921 Moran was found guilty and sentenced to death. He was returned to Mountjoy rather than Kilmainham Jail as just days previously a number of Republican Prisoners had escaped from the latter prison. Amongst them was Simon Donnelly who had been arrested on 10th February, Ernie O’Malley who had hidden his real identity from the Prison authorities and Frank Teeling who was captured on “Bloody Sunday”. It is claimed that Paddy Moran was to have been part of the escape party but that his place for some unexplained reason was taken by Simon Donnelly. Donnelly when writing in later years of the Kilmainham Jail escape claimed that Moran who was still awaiting trial was so sure of being acquitted that he felt his involvement in a prison escape would be an acknowledgment of his guilt. On 14th March 1921 Patrick Moran was one of six men hanged in Mountjoy Jail. The other men hanged were Thomas Whelan of Clifden, Thomas Bryan, Patrick Doyle, Frank Flood and Brendan Ryan, all of Dublin. Both Moran and Whelan were hanged for their involvement in the “Bloody Sunday” shootings of British Intelligence Officers while the remaining four men were hanged after treason convictions were secured. They had taken part in an unsuccessful ambush on crown forces at Tolka Bridge, Drumcondra on 21st January 1921. Patrick Moran was one of a family of eleven from Crossna in Co. Roscommon where he attended the local primary school. He served his time as grocers assistant in Boyle before moving to Dublin in 1910. Shortly after that he came to Athy where he spent a number of years working in the grocery shop of E.J. Glynn. Moran played Gaelic football for the local Geraldine Football Club, where one of his playing colleagues was the famous “Golly” Germaine. According to a report in the local newspaper Moran played an active part in local amateur theatricals as well as being a member of the local C.Y.M.S. On Sunday, 14th October 2001 the bodies of ten republicans who were executed in Mountjoy Jail and buried within the jail precincts were brought through the streets of Dublin for re-burial in Glasnevin Cemetery. Three of those ten men had links with the town of Athy. Apart from Patrick Moran who was well known in the town, Frank Flood’s brother Tom acquired a public house in Leinster Street where he lived until he died in October 1950. Kevin Barry’s sister married “Bapty” Maher of Athy and for many years the Maher family pub was at No. 23 Leinster Street. Just six days before Patrick Moran was sentenced to death another man with Athy connections was killed. John Moran of Church Street, Enniscorthy and his companion Sean Halpin of Drogheda were shot dead on 9th February 1921 by Black and Tans during a shoot-out near Drogheda. Moran was a son of William Moran and a nephew of Denis Moran, both of whom were natives of Athy. That same week Joseph Mullery of William Street, Athy was arrested in Cavan and lodged in Ballykinlar Camp. Back in his hometown of Athy the Crown forces were very active. An armoured car accompanied by a force of military arrived in the town causing some consternation and prompting the locals to stay indoors. The house of John Delaney, a brickmaker of Woodstock Street was raided and a number of what were described as “patriotic” pictures were removed from the wall, placed in the middle of the floor and stamped on by the raiders. Over the same weekend handwritten copies of a Military Order were posted up in the town of Athy. “PUBLIC NOTICE ROAD CUTTING AND DESTRUCTION OF BRIDGES The competent military authority has decided that in any area in which road cutting is indulged in the usual markets and fairs held in towns to which damaged roads lead will be stopped until roads are mended - By Order”. Executions, killings and the activities of the Crown forces during the early months of 1921 had a direct impact upon the people of Athy. Many more months would pass before the town, often described as a garrison town, would return to normality. The Republicans of Athy by then had regained for the south Kildare town some measure of the patriotic spirit which had remained submerged ever since the repressive activities of the military in the months leading up to the 1798 Rebellion.

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