The Mountjoy Martyrs

On Sunday, 14th October, 2001, a Solemn Requiem Mass was held in the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin for ten Volunteers executed in 1920/21. This was followed by the interment of nine of them at Glasnevin, the other being taken to Limerick for burial.
The first executed was Kevin Barry, an 18-year-old who has become an icon for the resistance to the colonial status that Ireland suffered for so many centuries. His coffin led the procession into the Pro-Cathedral; the others followed with a brief interval between each one, so that each individual received the full attention of the clergy, led by Cardinal Daly and the Apostolic Delegate, and of the congregation. Present were the President of Ireland, the Taoiseach, relatives of the executed, members of the Dáil and the Diplomatic Corps, representatives of national organisations and of other Faiths, and individuals.
Each coffin had military bearers, and all ten coffins, covered with the green, white and orange Flag of the Republic, lay across the church, immediately before the altar.
In his powerful sermon, Cardinal Daly said that we were gathered for the funeral rites of ten who had died for an independent Ireland, and who had never had a funeral. He said that a United Ireland remained a legitimate aim, but only by peaceful means, by consent, not constraint.
The procession to Glasnevin was led by an escort, followed by the coffins first of Kevin Barry, and then of the others, each in an individual hearse.
O’Connell Street was crowded, as was most of the route to the cemetery, with many Tricolours proudly displayed. At the approach to Glasnevin there were Guards of Honour from the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.
The burial site at Glasnevin is almost in the shadow of the Daniel O’Connell Tower Memorial, and is near the grave of Roger Casement.
In a brief oration during the ceremony, the Taoiseach placed the deaths of the Ten in an historical context, and said that “Today’s ceremonies relate to the circumstances that led to the foundation of this State.”
Before committal, the Tricolours which had covered each hearse were removed, to be presented to each family. At the end of the service, a Guard of Honour fired a last salute, which was followed by the Last Post. Despite the large crowds both in and outside the cemetery, the silence that followed was as still as a summer evening, to be broken by the Reveille that marks the end of the funerals of military personnel.
Throughout the service, the flag of the Republic had flown at half-mast; now, with a soft roll of drums, it was hoisted to full mast. The military band led the singing of the National Anthem, and the official ceremony was over.
During his speech, the Taoiseach had said that the ceremony paid a debt of honour that stretched back 80 years. As crowds gathered around the graves to pay their last respects, I walked from the past into the present, feeling that Kevin Barry, whose story was first told to me when I was a young child, was no longer an icon, but was now an acknowledged stalwart of Irish history, lying in peace and honour with compatriots who, like him, had also served the cause of Irish Independence.
It would, I think, be wrong to conclude this account of the State Funeral without personalising, if only slightly, the ten Volunteers known as The Mountjoy Ten.

KEVIN BARRY: aged 18; from Dublin/ Carlow; executed 1st November, 1920. (Pleas for clemency were made by the R.C. Archbishop and the Lord Mayor of Dublin. Lloyd George refused to intervene; the Chief Secretary for Ireland refused a request from the Labour Party to seek a Royal reprieve. A crowd of 2,000 prayed outside the prison; nearby, an armoured car and a military detachment were stationed. The Lord Lieutenant instructed the City Coroner not to hold an inquest. The chaplain later said, ‘I never met a braver man... he died with prayers on his lips for everyone, his enemies and all.’)

THOMAS WHELAN: aged 22; from Clifden, Galway; executed 14th march, 1921, at 6 am.

PATRICK MORAN: aged 33; from Crossna, Roscommon; executed 14th March, 1921, at 6 am.

PATRICK DOYLE: aged 29; from Dublin; executed 14th March, 1921, at 7 am.

BERNARD RYAN: aged 20; from Dublin; executed 14th March, 1921, at 7 am.

FRANK FLOOD: aged 19; from Dublin; executed 14th March, 1921, at 8 am.

THOMAS BRYAN: aged 24; from Dublin; executed 14th March, 1921, at 8 am.
(The Irish Labour Party ordered no work before 11 am, and this was obeyed by all. Crowds gathered from 5 am, the end of Curfew. Military and police forces passed near, as did a tender carrying soldiers, but the praying crowd did not give way. Work did not resume in the City nor in the towns until nearly midday. A formal request for the bodies was made by relatives, but this was refused. All six displayed ‘remarkable composure ‘).

THOMAS TRAYNOR: aged 39; from Tullow/Carlow; executed 25th April, 1921.
(He ‘met his death bravely ‘; the small crowd outside the prison tore down the death notice when it was posted. His widow collapsed on seeing the notice).

EDMUND FOLEY: aged 24; from Galbally, Co. Limerick; executed 7th June, 1921.

PATRICK MAHER: aged 32; from Knocklong, Co. Limerick; executed 7th June, 1921.
(Edmund Foley and Patrick Maher had both been in prison for nearly two years, and had been tried twice before a judge and a jury; there was disagreement on each occasion... this in the days when, for a prisoner to be convicted, a jury had to return a unanimous verdict. A third trial then took place before a military court, and both were convicted. An unsuccessful request was made for a reprieve, and both men died protesting their innocence).

NOTE: The personal details of the Ten are from a document issued in September, 2001, by the Department of the Taoiseach. The accounts in parentheses are from The Times (of London) dated in each case the day after the executions.

Frank Lane is a retired headteacher from Cardiff who spent his career in Catholic schools. He is Chairman of the Owain Glyndwr Committee and a member of the Wales Famine Forum.

Published in: The Green Dragon No 10, Spring 2002

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