O’CONNOR, Batt. With Michael Collins in the fight for Irish Independence.
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London: Davies, 1929. Crown octavo. pp. 195. Green cloth, titled in gilt. A very good copy. €295 Bartholomew ‘Batt’ O’Connor was born in Brosna on July 4th 1870. and was educated at the local national school. He worked with his father and brother as a stonemason and in 1893, emigrated to the USA. He returned in 1898 and moved to Dublin and in 1904 he branched out as a sub-contractor and began building houses.
He joined the Gaelic League in Dublin and later the Irish Volunteers and was sworn into the IRB. During Easter 1916 he was sent to Kerry to await instructions about the Rising planned in the county. However upon hearing of the arrest of Sir Roger Casement and the loss of the German guns he returned to Dublin and was arrested by the police. He was taken to Kilmainham Jail where he was sentenced to be shot but was deported to Wandsworth Jail and later Frongoch prison camp in Wales. He formed a close friendship with Michael Collins after their release and helped him in re-organising the IRB network and the Sinn Féin organisation. O’Connor was entrusted with the gold collected from the Dáil loan and buried it under the concrete floor of his house. This was never found despite frequent raids during the War of Independence. O'Connor purchased 76 Harcourt Street for Michael Collins, following a raid on the Sinn Féin Office at No. 6. There he installed a secret recess for private papers and means of escape through the skylight. When the recess escaped discovery following a raid, he went on to construct hiding places in many of the other houses used by the movement. In 5 Mespil Road, Collins headquarters for over 15 months during the Irish War of Independence, O'Connor fitted a small cupboard in the woodwork beneath the kitchen stairs on the ground floor. Before leaving each evening, Collins would hide his papers here. When it was finally raided in April 1921, it escaped detection. He was elected as a Sinn Féin councillor in 1920 and soon became chairman of the council which swore allegiance to Dáil Éireann. His various houses were used as safe-houses during the War of Independence and he himself was on the run throughout 1921. He persuaded Michael Collins to go to London to form part of the Anglo-Irish Treaty delegation. He remained a councillor for Cumann na nGaedheal after 1922 and was a joint treasurer of the party. He was elected to the Dáil in 1924 and remained a TD until his death in 1935. His funeral was attended by many of the then Fianna Fáil
This work is the factual personal record of an active participant in the Irish Revolution. The author is recognized as having been one of Collins closest associates and his narrative covers the whole history of the movement from its earliest inception.
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