In one of the most notorious acts of Free State murder, nine captured IRA soldiers were taken out from the Ballymullen Barracks and tied to a mine which was then detonated.
Eight of the nine were fatally injured — Patrick Hartnett, Timothy Twomey, John O’Connor, George O’Shea, James Walsh, Michael O’Connell, John Daly and Patrick Buckley — but Stephen Fuller survived to tell the tale.
The hugely popular 1997 RTÉ documentary Ballyseedy — which was repeated on March 8 to mark the anniversary — showed conclusively that the reprisal murders of IRA prisoners had been authorised as a matter of policy by the Chief-of-Staff of the Free State Army, Richard Mulcahy.
The 75th anniversary ceremonies on March 8 last began with a parade from the Ballyingarry House at 2.30pm to the impressive monument, erected in 1959 beside the Tralee-Dublin road.
The heroic bronze figures of the monument were the work of Breton Sculptor Yann Renard Goulet and the architect was Uinseann Mac Eoin. Yann Goulet was unable to travel to the anniversary ceremonies but his best wishes were conveyed to Tralee by Uinsionn Mac Eoin, who was in attendance.
Several dozen members of Fianna Éireann headed the parade behind a Republican Colour Party and a lone piper. The main oration was delivered by Derry Republican Sinn Féin member Déaglán Ó Donghaile.
During his speech he said: “It is a great honour and a privilege to address the Republican people of Kerry at this hallowed spot where eight Republican soldiers gave their lives for the freedom of Ireland. The sacrifices endured by the people of Kerry for the All Ireland Republic in the bitter period of the Tan and Free State Wars have always been an inspiration to the Republicans of the Six Counties.
“Of all the historic sites in Ireland Ballyseedy stands out in infamy, for it was to this lonely place that nine Republican soldiers were dragged to be murdered by the Free State army. But Ballyseedy is also a place of great heroism, for the bravery of those Volunteers is the bravery that will one day free our country.
“Patrick Buckley, father of five children and a seasoned freedom fighter; John Daly, a fearless Republican and Volunteer for many years; young Michael Connell, only 22 years old but dauntless beyond his years; James Walsh, a natural leader and inspiration to the people of Kerry; George O’Shea, Tim Twomey , Pat Hartnett , John O’Connor and Stephen Fuller, who suffered unspeakable torture at the hand of the Free State terrorists, yet who refused to surrender their comrades and their cause. Only Stephen Fullar would survive the brutal massacre to tell the world of the atrocity.
“In 1922 these brave men could have chosen the easy path of compromise and surrender by accepting the Treaty of Surrender. They could have enjoyed the comfort and wealth which the English rewarded their slaves in the Free State. But they refused.
“Today the British are offering a new Treaty of Surrender to the people of Ireland in the guise of a ‘peace process’. This containment process is aimed at purchasing a section of the Irish people and terrorising the rest of us. By murdering uninvolved nationalists, the Brits plan to consolidate their hold on the Six Counties. Via their agents in the colonial military forces and those in the death squads, whom the British armed with South African Apartheid weapons, the Brits slaughtered 15 people in 1997 and they have butchered another 10 innocents this year.
“Most recently Britain’s death squads have murdered Philip Allen and Damien Trainor in Poyntzpass, Armagh, on Tuesday March 3. By means of outright terrorism the Brits intent to modernise and update Partition and to re-establish the regime at Stormont under Lloyd George’s old threat of ‘immediate and terrible war’.
“Just as the Republicans of Kerry did not hesitate to reject Partition first time round in 1922 we call on the people of Ireland to vote in opposition to the Stormont sell-out and Britain’s second Treaty of Surrender Vote ‘No’ to a New Stormont and British rule under whatever guise in the forthcoming Partitionist referenda.”
“Irish Republicans continue to struggle to restore the Republic for which the Ballyseedy Martyrs died. For this to be achieved the true Republican Movement requires the support and solidarity of all those who profess to follow the revolutionary philosophy of the Ballyseedy Martyrs. Anyone worthy of the title ‘Irish Republican’ will join the people’s movement for the freedom of Ireland. At this critical moment in our country’s history we repeat the words of James Connolly:
“ ‘For our part we are for a narrow platform, a platform so narrow that there will not be a place on it where anyone who is not an uncompromising enemy of tyranny can rest the soles of his feet. And yet broad enough for every honest man.’
“We call on the Republican people of Kerry to join us and achieve in our lifetime the restoration of the All-Ireland Republic for which the Martyrs of Kerry suffered so much and died”.
• Four Special Branchmen boarded the Dublin bus as it was leaving for Kerry on March 8 and harassed the occupants.
One political policeman distinguished himself by asking Fianna boy Eoin Ryan (10) to stand up and then dragged him up from his seat saying “I will take you in under Section 30, you little bastard”. Eoin was badly shaken by the experience.
For over a year and a half now Orange protesters have been harassing and hurling abuse and missiles at nationalists in the vicinity of the Church grounds. The British Colonial police (RUC) are also present to ensure that nationalists to not retaliate while making sure not to intervene against the loyalists. Their jeeps and their riot gear are not meant for them.
Saturday evening, March 21 saw a new twist in the sick determination of these fascist Orange clowns. Mass-goers couldn’t believe their eyes (and noses) when they turned up at the church to find that their tormentors were holding a barbecue.
One of the parishioners said: “When I arrived I could see smoke rising from the alleyway where the protesters congregate across the road from the Chapel, and the smell of burgers and sausages was wafting towards the church door”. It is understood the barbecue was held to raise funds for an Orange arch for the area.
This meals-on-wheels service swelled the normal 25-30 strong group of protesters. The parishioner said: “It was one of the more light-hearted moments during this ridiculous church picket and to some extent it took the sting out of the tension normally attached to the protest”. Although he thought “it was quite funny”, as the protesters continued to harangue the mass-goers with their abuse he realised “with a bit of weariness that the protest had been reduced to this and it seemed to underline a sense of permanence about the protest”.
Can anyone imagine such a denial of the right to worship being tolerated by the British government if it was directed against any religious denomination in any part of England, Scotland or Wales? Would such abuse be tolerated in any other part of Europe? Or the US?
A native of Dernaferst, Gowna, Co Cavan, Jim lived and worked in Dublin for the latter part of his life. He is remembered with strong affection by all Republicans who were in contact with him down the years.He himself was an unswerving and no-nonsense Republican and a soldier in the very best sense who commanded respect at all times.
At the removal to St Colmcille’s Church, Aughnacliffe, Co Longford on March 29 the coffin was draped in the Irish Tricolour. There was a huge turn-out of the local community together with Republicans from Longford and surrounding counties.
Among the gifts presented during Mass the next morning were his fishing rod and a Long Kesh harp. Hymns sung in Irish included Ag Críost an Síol and Caoineadh na dTrí Mhuire.
Councillor Seán Lynch, Aughnacliffe, presided at the graveside ceremony in the adjoining cemetery. He spoke highly of Jim Columb whom he had known all his life. He and Jim went to school together at Polladoey NS and were in the same class. They had joined the Republican Movement together in the 1950s.
“Jim Columb was,” he said, “above all else a Republican soldier. He remained loyal and true to the end with the courage of Cúchulainn and the determination of Cathal Brugha.”
Éamon Larkin, South Armagh represented An Ard Chomhairle, Republican Sinn Féin and the attendance included Republicans from North Louth and South Armagh who were comrades and friends of Jim Columb.
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh in his oration quoted Brendan Behan’s poem The Dead March Past (in an Easter commemoration parade). Jim Columb was very proud to have shouldered Behan’s coffin when he was given a Republican funeral in 1964.
A highly-skilled plasterer by trade, Jim was noted as a good worker. During his time in Dublin he showed himself a caring human being by visiting any local people while in hospital there and by helping others to find work and arrange accommodation in the city.
A report received by the GHQ Staff officer in charge of training in the western and midland counties in 1956 indicated that “Volunteer Columb shows exceptional determination and fighting spirit and is a natural soldier”.
As was to be expected he was engaged in active service in 1957 against the British armed Forces of Occupation in south Fermanagh. Eventually he was arrested with four other Cavan men on the Monaghan side of the Fermanagh border and sentenced to six months imprisonment for “refusing to answer questions”.
Jim refused to recognise the court and in Mountjoy joined immediately in a hunger strike then in progress for political status which had been withdrawn. Ten days later the strike ended in total success. Removed to the Curragh Concentration Camp on expiration of sentence. Jim took part in the mass escape of December 1958 but was shot in the knee and recaptured.
On release in 1959 he carried on as an active Republican and when the Workers’ Party/Democratic Left broke away in 1969 he rejected them. Right through the 1970s and early 1980s until ill-health overtook him he was active in a support capacity in the South Armagh-North Lough Border with Liam Fagan of Ravensdale and Séamus Heuston of Keady, both of whom have now passed on.
From 1986 on he stood by Republican Sinn Féin, Cumann na mBan, Fianna Éireann and the Continuity IRA. There was no easy road or no shortcuts to freedom, he would contend.
A permanent peace, so earnestly desired by all, would come when the British armed forces evacuated Ireland. The British government would leave our country only when compelled to do so, was his stance.
Jim Columb’s father, Johnny, had served in the Longford Brigade, IRA against the Black-and-Tans and he himself had given service all his life in good measure.
“Leaba i measc na bhFíníní go raibh aige de shíor.” Sympathy is expressed to his sisters Anna (Minnesota), Maureen (Donegal), brothers Mel (Gowna), Seán (New York), Frank (Dublin) and Fintan (Manchester).
Among the many floral tributes was one from the US in the names of Peter Quinn, Longford, Pat McGirl, Leitrim, Frank Skuse, Cork and Seán Cronin, Kerry — all of them comrades from the 1950s.
Jim’s funeral Mass was on Sunday March 15. Chief celebrant of the Mass was Father Fitzgerald accompanied by personal friends of Jim’s, among whom were Fathers’ Herlihy and Slattery.
In a homily Father Fitzgerald described Jim as a warm-hearted person who was always worried about others. Jim would always ask about others who were sick in the area and never complained about his own illness. He was also a loving father and grandfather. Fr Fitzgerald also said that once Jim’s mind was made up that was it. He said he had very strong views on the national issue and these views also have to be respected.
After Mass accompanied by an East Cork Graves Guard of Honour and preceded by a lone piper, his remains were taken a short distance to the family grave in the adjoining cemetery. After blessing and prayers, his coffin was lowered into the grave by personal friends of his.
A decade of the rosary as Gaeilge was followed by the playing of the last post by Pat Varian on the bugle. Norman O’Rourke finished off proceedings when he played a lament on the Pipes.
It has to be said that the large gathering of mourners behaved impeccably, as one could hear the proverbial pin drop such was the quietness and dignity during the proceedings. It was surely a mark of the respect that the people of his beloved Cloyne and District and indeed all over Cork held for Jim.
Jim Wall was involved in Republican activities from the 1930’s right up to shortly before his death.
The 1940s found Jim in The Curragh concentration camp, where he spent a number of years. Conditions could be described as atrocious, but he emerged in the mid-1940s more committed than ever. Later he became the owner/driver in his own lorry business.
Again he risked all. In 1954 Armagh Barracks was stripped of all the contents of its armoury. The booty was safely delivered by Jim’s V8 truck. A song entitled My little V8 truck was composed at the time to celebrate the event. No need to add who owned and drove same. Had the Omagh raid been successful some months later, Jim was ready to deliver the captured arms. Many Republicans travelled in this lorry to camps preparing for the 1956-1962 campaign. When the time came they travelled North in the luxury of self same truck.
While the 1960s were relatively quite, Jim’s lorry was always an instant platform for speakers at the parades or meetings, especially for the Boys of Clonmult and the Manchester Martyrs Commemorations locally.
At this time of his life he became IO for the Republicans in East Cork. Even this was to bear fruit in later years as information he gathered, on two occasions, foiled planned ambushes on local Republicans.
In the 1970s he was again in the thick of things. Suffice to say he put his life, freedom and business on the line on a lot more than one occasion. The 1980s were only a little less hectic.
In the 1990s he became Chairman of the reconstructed East Cork Graves Association. It was as if he knew that he only had a limited amount of time to do all that was needed to the graves and monuments in the area. He was ruthlessly efficient in getting his work done. Jim was helped by fellow members in collecting money and running Wolfe Tones concerts.
These concerts were hosted to raise the considerable sums of money needed to totally refurbish the Republican plot in Midleton. Most of the Republican monuments in the area were in addition cleaned and repointed .
There is only one monument for Jim and it is a 32-County Republic, nothing less. Ní bheidh a leithéid againn arís.
On the business side he was a great time keeper and worked like a slave, indeed only part of his exploits would fill this paper. “Wollway” was what his business went by. It was a unique achievement to deliver four loads of sugarbeet to Mallow from East Cork in a day, at a time when all beet had to be hand picked. Once I heard him remark that “those bags are a bit small, it takes too long to fill the lorry”. “Those bags” were from 16-20 stone each, filled with wheat. Hoping that this gives people a feel for Jim’s attitude to life.
His life could be summed up Dia, Domhain agus a Chlann. Condolences are extended to his daughter, Rosaleen, son Séamas and his grandchildren, James, Stephanie, Raymond, Claire and Tanya and other relatives and his many friends on their loss.
Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam dílís.
During the 1940s Jacob, along with other kindred Republicans, was interned in the Curragh Concentration Camp by the Free State. He served a number of years at that God-forsaken place and was present the day Volunteer Barney Casey was gunned down in cold blood.
When released he had to emigrate to England along with a lot of fellow Republicans of that period. He worked in Coventry.
He returned and worked in Limerick where he met his wife, who passed away just a few weeks ago. He then returned to Ardfert where he lived for the past few years of his life.
Kerry Republican Sinn Féin members formed a guard of honour to the church on Saturday, March 28 and to the grave the following day, where the cortège was led by a lone piper.
At the graveside Jacob’s sister-in-law Nora read a very moving and sincere tribute which brought tears to all present.
Liam Cotter gave the oration in which he outlined Jacob’s contribution to the Republican Movement over his long life and stated that down through all his years he remained true and never deviated from his principles.
The lone piper played the National Anthem and Jacob Lovett was laid to rest next to his beloved wife Máire.
Kerry Republican Sinn Féin offers sincere sympathy to the family of Jacob Lovett and thank the family for carrying out his burial wishes, when other elements tried unsuccessfully to take over his funeral.
“I first met Chris McLoughlin in 1950 when he arrived in the US from Belfast after enduring years of imprisonment, harassment and intimidation by the empire of hell. He, with Liam Cotter, Joe Bray and others became an inspiration to all of us and helped to dynamo support for the effort which began December 12, 1956, and which has hardly ceased since except for a brief period of uncertainty in the 1960s when the forces of revisionism took the life of Paddy McLogan, who stood solidly against their determination to betray the traditional past and recognise the quisling government in Leinster House.
“During all the long and sometimes lonely years of our association, Chris rejected compromise of any sort and he died unbought and unconquered, a man who gave all that was possible for him to give. I recall how he stood by my side daily when I was privileged to stand trial with the distinguished and respected Michael Flannery, Tom Falvey and others, because we refused to remain neutral while Bobby Sands and his comrades hungered to death for justice.
“To all his beloved family I offer my sincere condolences. I will say no good-byes, until such time as I am called to join you, just a brief and revolutionary so long Chris”.
From the early 1950s he showed his support publicly at every opportunity, not least when he won a prize at a local fancy dress competition in 1955. He and Paddy Feeney who predeceased him by four months were dressed as Philip Clarke, TD for Fermanagh-South Tyrone and Col Grosvenor who was later awarded the seat by a British court.
In later years he adhered to Republican Sinn Féin and Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, President, attended his funeral Mass in Athleague. Local Republicans were present at the removal and the burial service.
Sympathy is expressed to his three sisters. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.
Mark was born in Co Tipperary and took the “oath” at the age of 14 years. He served in “A” Company, North Tipperary, 2nd Brigade.
At the age of 17 years he was a member of the Volunteer Unit that launched the attack on Holy Cross barracks. His role in this unit was that of “mobiliser”.
Mark was on active duty until 1921 when the Truce was signed.
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