O’MALLEY, Ernie. Autograph Letter Signed from Ernie O’Malley, dated 10/8/22, to his Director of Chemicals in the Northern and Eastern Command, Jim O’Donovan. AN IMPORTANT LETTER ON INTELLIGENCE GATHERING AND EXPLOSIVES WRITTEN WHILE ON THE RUN


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Two pages quarto. O’Malley is looking for technical information and explosives, stating “things are in rather a bad way: recently we have purchased some raw material - over £300 worth, but the Department has not turned out any explosives as yet, the latter are urgently needed ... “. He goes on and tells Jim O’Donovan he needs “ Plan of Barracks, strength of garrison, plans of defence ... Location of transport, stores (Explosives, arms, etc), big guns etc. ... No of armoured cars, armoured lorries ... No of senior officers ... “. He was also seeking the names of prisoners and the possibility of escape. O’Malley concludes “things quiet enough. Ginger, Cronin & Co visit town regularly ... “. Some browning to paper, otherwise in very good condition. Original letters of Ernie O’Malley from this period are of the utmost rarity.

O’Malley rejected the 1921 Anglo–Irish treaty as an unacceptable compromise. He had spent the 1921 truce period training IRA officers in his divisional area, in preparation for a possible renewal of fighting. He was, in the event, to be a leading anti-treatyite in the 1922-23 civil war. In the Four Courts in 1922, at the start of the latter conflict, he was captured on the republicans’ capitulation on 30 June but then managed to escape from captivity. Subsequently he was appointed assistant chief of staff of the anti-treaty IRA and also became part of a five-man antitreaty army council along with Liam Lynch, Liam Deasy, Frank Aiken, and Tom Derrig. O’Malley was dramatically captured (and badly wounded) by Free State forces in Dublin in November 1922.
Imprisoned until July 1924, he was during the period of his incarceration elected as a TD for Dublin North in the 1923 general election, and was also a forty-one-day participant in the republican hunger strike later in that year. Following release from prison, he returned home to live with his parents in Dublin.
James O’Donovan (1896-1979), also known as Seamus or Jim O’Donovan, was a leading volunteer in the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Agent in Ireland for the Abwehr. He fought in the Irish War of Independence and then on the Anti-Treaty side during the Irish Civil War serving as the IRA Director of Munitions and Chemicals. A native of County Roscommon, O’Donovan was educated at St Aloysius’ College, Glasgow and at University College Dublin where he earned a Master of Science degree in Chemistry. O’Donovan was an explosives expert and reputedly invented the “Irish War Flour” (named after the flour sacks in which it was smuggled into Dublin aboard ships) and “Irish Cheddar” devices. He subsequently became IRA Director of Chemicals in 1921. During the Irish War of Independence he was imprisoned in Mountjoy and Kilmainham prisons and later interned in Newbridge, County Kildare. O’Donovan escaped from Newbridge jail on 14 October 1922 was recaptured on 15 March 1923 and imprisoned until 17 July 1924. He opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty and was a member of the anti-treaty IRA Executive formed in 1922 with Ernie O’Malley and others. During the Irish Civil War O’Donovan fought on the Anti-Treaty IRA side.


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