We had another excellent revolutionary workshop in East Limerick last week. This time we were in Galbally, where Tim Ryan kindly welcomed us to the Canon Hennessey Community Centre. We spoke about the project in general, revolutionary landscapes we had come across and the project’s survey, which can be found by clicking here.
Afterwards, the community kindly began sharing stories about their family members who were involved in the East Limerick Brigade, the War of Independence and the Civil War. We heard about Captain Michael Quish and his brother Denis Quish, who fought together during the War of Independence but found themselves on opposite sides of the Civil War both figuratively and literally when they were fighting at the Four Courts. Both were born in Galbally and went to St Colman’s College where they were taught by Thomas McDonagh (signed the proclamation and was executed after the 1916 Rising). Michael survived the Civil War and his name can be found on the statue in the centre of Galbally village.
Next to Michael’s name on the statue is the name of another Volunteer, Thomas Whelan. We spoke to his grand-nephew, who told us about how he died with five other men in Dublin while planting a bomb.
We also heard of Michael Scanlan who was the Commandant of the 3rd Battalion of East Limerick. He was also a teacher in Kilmallock Boys’ National School and educated many young students there. While he was on the run he was arrested and killed by Crown Forces on Thomas Street in Limerick in October 1920. His name, like many others is also recorded on the village statue.
During the evening we were also shown an impressive collection of objects that included medals, photographs, a prison autograph book, bullets and a cigarette butt which you can see below.
One of the most unusual objects that has even been displayed at our workshops was the cigarette butt that was smoked by Patrick Maher before he was executed in Mountjoy prison in 1921. Unfortunetly, Patrick Maher had been wrongfully convicted of being part of the Knocklong ambush, which saw the rescue of Seán Hogan from a train in Knocklong Station. During this rescue two RIC officers were killed. Maher is also remembered on the statue in the centre of Galbally.
The above image shows a letter written by Volunteer Stephen Joyce to his sister. He informs her that he is to be executed the following morning after he has attended mass. In the heartbreaking letter, Stephen fears not for himself but rather for his sister and asks her to wear his medals in memory of him until they meet in heaven. According to local newspapers, Stephen was being executed for possessing arms and ammunition without proper authority. He and four other men were executed in Custume Barracks, Athlone, Co. Westmeath, on the 20th of January 1923.
Along with this letter, we were shown images of an autograph book which Volunteers had signed in Limerick Prison. Many of them signed their names, drew pictures, commemorated dead comrades and wrote poems, some of which you can see in the images below.
We hope you have enjoyed these objects and their stories as much as we have. If you have any stories, memories or items connected to East Limerick’s Revolutionary period (1917-1923), please bring them along to our next revolutionary workshop, which will be held in the Knocklong Community Centre, Knocklong on the 27th of June at 7 pm.
Special thanks to everyone who came a long and shared their stories and objects, especially Tim Ryan, Christy O’Callaghan and Michael Quish for bringing in their wonderful objects and sharing them with the community. It was a pleasure discussing the history of those items with you.
The Archaeology of the Irish Revolution in East Limerick project is funded by the Irish Research Council COALESCE fund, which funds excellent research addressing national and European-global challenges across a number of strands. This project is part of the INSTAR+ awards, funded by the National Monuments Service of the Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage in partnership with the Heritage Council. It is being undertaken by University College Dublin School of Archaeology in partnership with Abarta Heritage. Other partners on the project include Dr Damian Shiels, the National Museum of Ireland, Limerick Museum, Heritage Maps, and local historians of the War of Independence and Civil War eras.