Passage West Collection 2: The Maps & Memorabilia of Henry O’Mahony, IRA, Passage West

IRA campaign maps belonging to Henry O’Mahony, Captain of the Passage West Company, and Vice-Commandant and Adjutant of the 9th Battalion of Cork’s No. 1 Brigade. He was born in 1896 in Passage West and joined the IRA in 1917. His two sisters were also active in Cumann na mBan.

Map of the different companies that made up the 9th Battalion.

The Ordnance Survey map has been annotated with various symbols; further research could reveal what these meant. Maps like this provide invaluable evidence for the IRA’s activities during the revolutionary years and can help archaeologists and historians piece together significant locations of the conflict, many of which survive today.

Detail of the OS Map.

Vice-Commandant O’Mahony was interned on Spike Island during the War of Independence. Like many prisoners he kept an autograph book, signed by his fellow internees. He also made a pin from a silver sixpence (both front and back are shown below): defacing coinage was of course illegal, so this was a creative statement of his political beliefs. He was one of seven men to take part in a successful escape from Spike Island in November 1921.

Henry took the Anti-Treaty side during the Civil War and was interned in Tintown on the Curragh, where this photo was taken (he is in the middle of the back row).

Here too is the order to detain him during the Civil War, signed by Richard Mulcahy, Minister for Defence.

Vice-Commandant O’Mahony probably began to write this poignant journal while he was in Tintown. It includes lists of men executed by the authorities during the War of Independence and Civil War, including his close friend Dick Barrett who had been interned with him on Spike Island and was subsequently executed by the Free State in December 1922; transcriptions of the last letters sent to family and friends by those executed during this period; details of hunger strikes in Tintown; and insights into his own political views.

Henry was granted a Military Service Pension in 1936.

Vice-Commandant O’Mahony’s own account of his activities before and during the War of Independence can be read online in the Bureau of Military History’s collections.

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