Monday, March 21, 2011

Tom Barry's "With the IRA in The Fight For Freedom 1919 to the Truce..."

"...The Red Path of Glory."

 [From the Preface]

FOR MANY YEARS The Kerryman Ltd., through its newspapers and in book form, has been telling the story of the struggle, made by men and women of our time, which brought into being our modern Irish State. If these men and women did not achieve all that they aimed at they achieved more than any others generation had done in the centuries-old fight to throw off an alien yoke.

The book does not claim to be a comprehensive history of the Anglo-Irish conflict that lead to the partition. Rather, the book outlines in chronicle style a series of key actions against the British over the course of 1919-1921. Each action is detailed, based on personal accounts and written a key participant, and is usually accompanied by a hand-drawn sketch of the event.

At the beginning of the book is a brief history of the events from the Easter uprising of 1916 through to the truce.  Of greater interest is the second entry -  The Constitutional Basis of the National Struggle by General Sean MacEoin.  In detailing the constitutional-legal case for armed struggle, General MacEoin lists:

the personnel of the Headquarters, Brigade and Battalion staffs as entered on the Roll of the Director of the Organization from January 1919 onwards.  This Roll, which is still in my obsession, dates from January 1919 and is in the handwriting of Eamonn Price and Diarmuid O'Hegarty. It is to the best of my belief the only written record of its date and its authorship is a guarantee of its accuracy...

The list  is 8 pages long, organized by area/unit, and then names in order of precedence.

Tom Barry's life and career typifies the background of an Irish republican, entangled as were all Irish of the day, in the institutions of British rule. He was the son of a Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) officer, the RIC being established in 1822 as the primary civilian police force for Ireland and therefore associated with a long history of holding the responsibility for repressing civil agitation against British rule. Like many Irish, he fought in British wars: he enlisted with the British army, apparently to see what war was about, and was wounded in a gas attack in Basra in WWI.  Barry was with the 3rd West Cork Brigade of the IRA during the conflict and was known as one of the IRA's best field commanders during the Irish War of Independence

This brief entry from the Princes Grace Irish Library gives a thumbnail sketch of Barry's life.

1897-1980; b. West Cork; son of RIC officer; ed. National School; served in Mesopotamia [Iraq] in WWI; gassed in Basra; enrolled in business college; 3rd (West Cork) Brigade of IRA, 1919; commanded West Cork IRA unit, and later flying column; ambushes at Kilmichael and Crossbarry; opposed Treaty; arrested and imprisoned as a Republican, 1934; called for war against English, 1936; opposed IRA support for Republicans in Spanish Civil War; resigned from Army Council, 1937; quit IRA, 1940; sent ironic telegram to Gen. Perceval upon the surrender of Singapore, Perceval having previously acted as ‘easily the most viciously anti-Irish of all serving British officers’; unsuccessful candidate in Cork, 1946; latterly employed by Cork Harbour Commissioners; m. Leslie Price, a prominent member of Cumann na mBan and Irish Red Cross;issued Guerrilla Days in Ireland (1949) and The Reality of the Anglo-Irish War, 1919-21 (1974), a pamph. contesting Liam Deasy’s Towards Ireland Free. DIH

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