Autograph Book of IRA Prisoners (Irregulars) during the Irish Civil War. Containing the signatures of almost sixty prisoners, dates from November 1922 to December, 1923. Mentioned are Block, Camp and County where they were from. Illustrated with three magnificent drawings and watercolours, two signed by Jim O’Rourke, Canal Harbour, Athy and one signed by Sean O’Shaughnessy, Rathkeale.

1,750.00

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Bound in brown leatherette, ‘Autographs’ in gilt on upper cover. Oblong octavo, 17 x 130cms. All edges gilt. In very good condition. Extremely rare.

This autograph book dates to the period of internment of IRA prisoners (Irregulars) during the Irish Civil War. The signatures relate to the period from November 1922, when the mass arrests of ‘Irregulars’ began and entries were collected to the end of December 1923 when the prisoners were released in large numbers following hunger-strikes which took several lives, including Denis Barry who died in Newbridge Camp on 20 November 1923. This suggests that the owner of the autograph book was a prisoner who served the maximum period in the Newbridge Internment Camp in Kildare.

The names contained in the autograph book show the geographical spread of the internees in the Newbridge Internment Camp during this period with entries from those from the counties of Kerry, Sligo, Offaly, Limerick, Leix (modern day Laois) and Clare. There is a very strong link to events in Kildare in December 1922. Included in the autograph book are copies of the final letters of three of the men who were executed on 19 December 1922, as political prisoners, members of C Company 2 Battalion 7 (Kildare) Brigade 1 Eastern Division, IRA. The letters are written the night before execution by Byran Moore, Paddy Nolan and Patrick Bagnall who were among the seven members of the Rathbride Column members shot by firing squad on 19 December 1922 (death certificate of Brian Moore states place of death as Miliary Hospital, the Curragh). It is also stated as Harepark Prison. Hare Park were huts erected in 1914 in the Curragh. They were in use again during the Civil War from July 1922 when the National Army arrested locals under the Public Safety Acts. On 12 December 2022, several men were arrested in a dug out in the home of Byran Moore, Rathbride House, Kildare (also given as Moore’s Bridge). The men were found in the possession of arms and ammunition, which was punishable by death. The official recorded the men were “sentenced to death of military court for being in possession with rifles, ammunition, detonators, explosives”. This information was contained in the Military Pension files applications for compensation for Mary Moore, mother of Brian Moore. Historian James Durney, who has researched locally gathering oral history accounts believes that the arms found had been obtained from an Irish Free State soldier in Naas.

The focus of the authorities was to stop attacks on the railway, this is underscored by records from the Cabinet meeting of 12 December 1922, (held in UCDA, Mulcahy papers) that the Kildare irregulars had ‘a definite policy… and it was “affecting the destruction of the railway”. The men were all general labourers and railway workers. Patrick Nolan, 24, was a railway worker. Brian Moore, 37, according to his mother’s application for compensation in the 1930s, was also as a part-time worker on the railway.

There are two letters written by Brian Moore to his father and mother. The letter written to his brother is also included. Brian’s sister Annie was also arrested in the house in December 1922. She was brought to Mountjoy Jail where there already several Cumann na mBan members already imprisoned.

One of them was Margaret Buckley who recalls Annie Moore in her book Jangle of Keys, recalled that she was an “inconsolable looking girl” whose brother and fiancée had been executed. Patrick Nolan, 24 was also shot. The autograph book contains the last letter of Patrick Nolan to elder brother and sister.

The autograph book includes a copy of the letter Paddy Bagnall aged 19 wrote to his Uncle Jimmy. “I am to be shot in the morning 19 December at 8 15 am…Mind mammy and do what you can for her. I know this will nearly kill her.’ He continued with ‘seven of us – Johnston, Mangan, White, Moore, Connor and I…we are not afraid to die. We are dying happy anyway. We will die like men anyway

…”.

Letter of Paddy Nolan to his brother and Sister, Curragh Camp Prison, 18/12/22. “Now that I am about to Part from this world, I ask you for one favour - Be Kind to Father and Mother and never dishonour the Cause for which I die - A Free and Independent Ireland ... “. Poem by M. Daly, Rathmore, Co. Kerry, ‘Man’s Inhumanity to Man’. Poem by Peter Browne, Scartaglen, Co. Kerry. Verse by Philip Brew, Limerick City. Joe McKelvie’s Letter to his Mother from Mountjoy Jail. “Next to the Love of God caoes / the Love of Country” Harold McBrien, Drumduff, Ballintogher, Co. Sligo.

Verse of Pearse - T. Dalton, Athea, Co. Limerick. Verse by P.J. O’Neill, Abbey Feale, Co. Limerick. Quote by D. Ahern, South Quay, Newcastle West. Letter from Bryan Moore to his Father and Mother, Hare Park Prison, 18/12/22. “I am about to be executed in the morning and I wish to bid you good-bye, and to ask you to pray for me ... “. Verse from Pádraig Ó Caoimhánaigh. Letter from Bryan Moore to his Father and Mother, Hare Park Prison, 18/12/22. “I am about to die for the Cause of Ireland ...”. Jack and Gill funny verse from J.P. Crowley, Listowel, in Newbridge Internment Camp. Verses from D. Dunne, Red House, Leix and Martin Hennessy, Clonaslee. De Valera’s Christmas Message for 1922 transcribed by Owen Dunne, Leix. The Shamrock verse by Philip Stacpool, Kinnard, Glin, Co. Limerick. Quote from Liam Lynch by Patrick O’Connor, Ballyhahill, County Limerick. Jim O’Rourke was one of six O’Rourke Brothers from Grand Canal Harbour, Athy, who gave more family members to the IRA, than any other local family members in County Kildare. Michael O’Rourke was Captain, A Company, 5th`Battalion Carlow Brigade. Brothers Jim (who did the magnificent watercolours), Tom, Fran, Joe and Dinny were also in the IRA company. During the Civil War all were Anti Treaty. Michael and Jim were interned in The Curragh and Newbridge Internment Camps from 1922 until 1923.

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