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Old IRA Funerals

  • 21-11-2012 5:45pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 7,073 ✭✭✭


    Hi there, I'm wondering does anyone have any information on Old IRA funerals? My Grandad, and some of his brothers were members of the Old IRA. I have a few of my Grandad's medals. One he was awarded in 1971, on the 50th Anniversary of The Treaty, and a couple of others. I checked them out on military.ie.
    My Grandad died in the late 80's, and as I was just 14 at the time, I have little memory of the funeral. What I do remember is the gates of the graveyard had to be guarded by soldiers with guns. I seem to remember hearing that this was in case anyone came along trying to cause trouble??
    I remember the shots being fired over his coffin by other soldiers, who may or may not have been wearing balaclavas? Who would these soldiers have been?
    It's only since my Dad died that I have been interested in finding out about this. I'm pretty useless when it comes to history/politics:o

    Any info would be greatly appreciated...


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,267 ✭✭✭concussion


    If the Defence Forces provided a firing party there would have been a security escort, which could explain the soldiers at the gate. If, however, they were wearing balaclava's, they were certainly not members of the Defence Forces.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 2,913 ✭✭✭galwaycyclist


    I suspect your Grandad had an official Irish Army Firing party likely he would have been entitled to one for service in the War of Independence. Its at the discretion of the family wether they want full military honours or not.

    When weapons are being used in public spaces there will usually also be a security detail who would have been guarding the firing party. Essentially to prevent any armed elements trying to take their weapons. The firing party itself would probably have come from the nearest military post.

    By the late '80s the old IRA was gone and the only paramilitary groups likely to be organising firing details would have been the provisional IRA or the INLA. They did wear balaclavas for such events but would usually only have done something like that for their own members who had died on active service. That doesnt sound like your grandad.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,469 ✭✭✭guinnessdrinker


    I would say it was the Defence Forces that fired the shots over the grave, it was quite common for them to do this at the families request.

    It was also not unknown for the IRA to fire a volley of shots over the graves of veterans of the War of Independance also though. I think there was shots fired over Tom Maguires grave in the 90's and Dan Keatings grave in the 00's by members of the CIRA.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 794 ✭✭✭bluecode


    The soldiers in the firing party would have been wearing black berets. Probably your memory morphed them into balaclavas thanks to images you've seen since and as Galwaycyclist says the soldiers at the gate were the security detail with loaded weapons to prevent the then current IRA making off with the firing party's rifles which would only be loaded with blanks.

    A practice which continues to this day.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,073 ✭✭✭Rubberlegs


    Thanks so much for the replies, they have helped clear a few things up for me:)
    As bluecode suggested, I'd say its definitely recent news events that got me wondering were the soldiers firing wearing balaclavas! This then led me to wonder were they members of the current IRA. I definitely remember hearing that there was a chance that there could be some kind of trouble, if certain others heard of the funeral. Hence the gates being guarded. I'm pretty sure I can remember some trouble like this happening at a similar local funeral.

    Another question. Would the current IRA have purely been looking to take the weapons? Or am I right in remembering I heard that they would have come along to cause trouble, as they don't share the same beliefs held by the Old IRA?


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 794 ✭✭✭bluecode


    Well the only other explanation would be that the IRA did provide the firing party for your Grandfather and thus the 'soldiers' outside the gate were in fact IRA men who were watching out for the Gardai or army. This does seem a bit unlikely though as it's not really something you can keep secret and in any case IRA firing parties tending to materialise out of the crowd, fire a few shots and disperse. Not hang around in broad daylight carrying weapons particularly in the 'Free State'.

    That isn't to say it didn't happen but most likely it was a formal salute provided by the government. The rumours are probably a good story that grew a bit in the telling.

    The Provos would have been interested in acquiring Irish army rifles. Hence the need for security. But in general they had a rule against engaging the army or Garda. Not always followed strictly. But they would never have interfered with the funeral of an old IRA man. Far from not sharing the beliefs of the old IRA the Provos felt they were the natural descendants and were true to the aims of the old IRA. On the other hand the rest of us including the army felt they betrayed the ideals of the old IRA. Blowing up innocent men, women and children in no warning bombs is hardly heroic in the spirit of true Irish nationalism.

    You should check out the military archives to see much they have on your Grandad. It would be very interesting to see what role in played in those times.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,073 ✭✭✭Rubberlegs


    Thanks for the info, bluecode, very helpful:D
    Things had definitely grown legs with me over the years, I had only little bits I could remember hearing around the time, almost 25yrs now since he died.
    Must check out the military archives as you suggested. I'd say he would have had some stories to tell. I can remember my Dad showing me the place on the road where he had taken part in an ambush on the Black and Tans. He was very old when he died, and had been deaf for many years previous. Anyway, the age I was at, I probably wouldn't have had the interest in hearing about it back then:o


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 794 ✭✭✭bluecode


    Yes I was the same, across the road from me were two men. One served in the British army in two world wars. He taught me and his grandsons how to stand to attention and at ease. On the other side of the road was an old IRA man. He actually still had his rifle in the attic but he handed it in when the troubles started.

    If only I could go back and talk to those men.

    That mention of the point of the road where an ambush happened reminds me of something I read recently. Every time I drive down a particular road I think of that event.

    Please do the research, it's amazing what comes up sometimes. My wife's grandad was involved in that era. The family history was that he was locked up in Kilmainham and some of his friends were shot by the British. When I dug a bit it turned out it was partially right. Except his was imprisoned by the Irish government and his friends were executed by the Irish in the civil war. That didn't make me too popular as you can imagine.

    You never know what pops up.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,073 ✭✭✭gobnaitolunacy


    The grandfather's coz passed away in 1990.
    Just a tricolour on the coffin and no firing party.

    Have both Tan War and the Survivor's medals from him. The Tan medal doesn't have a bar, I vaguely recall he used move and store guns/ammo rather than being in a column.


  • Registered Users Posts: 46 autronica


    The grandfather's coz passed away in 1990.
    Just a tricolour on the coffin and no firing party.

    Have both Tan War and the Survivor's medals from him. The Tan medal doesn't have a bar, I vaguely recall he used move and store guns/ammo rather than being in a column.

    Remember being very impressed when shots were fired over my grandfathers grave in 79 by a PDF detail.
    Its a great pity I could not have asked all the questions that I have since wondered
    Youth is wasted on the young and all that .....


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,073 ✭✭✭gobnaitolunacy


    autronica wrote: »
    Remember being very impressed when shots were fired over my grandfathers grave in 79 by a PDF detail.
    Its a great pity I could not have asked all the questions that I have since wondered
    Youth is wasted on the young and all that .....

    Yes, I would have now liked to have gotten a few stories off him, but he didn't really warm to me, possibly because I was an insufferable little bollix at the time!


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,232 ✭✭✭neilled


    73Cat wrote: »
    Thanks for the info, bluecode, very helpful:D
    Things had definitely grown legs with me over the years, I had only little bits I could remember hearing around the time, almost 25yrs now since he died.
    Must check out the military archives as you suggested. I'd say he would have had some stories to tell. I can remember my Dad showing me the place on the road where he had taken part in an ambush on the Black and Tans. He was very old when he died, and had been deaf for many years previous. Anyway, the age I was at, I probably wouldn't have had the interest in hearing about it back then:o

    Maybe he told those stories and you just aren't aware of it. The defence forces Military Archives recorded interviews with the surivors of the war of independence, partially as a historical record and partially to corroborate who qualified for a pension!

    If go on here http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/ and enter his surname and the area you might find he gave a statement. Many of these are now online and can be viewed and make interesting reading!


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,073 ✭✭✭Rubberlegs


    neilled wrote: »
    Maybe he told those stories and you just aren't aware of it. The defence forces Military Archives recorded interviews with the surivors of the war of independence, partially as a historical record and partially to corroborate who qualified for a pension!

    If go on here http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/ and enter his surname and the area you might find he gave a statement. Many of these are now online and can be viewed and make interesting reading!

    Thank for that link :). Have found mention of my Grandad and his brother, in someone else's statement, as being part of a "company", as it's called, that took part in several attacks on an RIC (I think) barracks in Co. Wexford. It must be them, the same names, and the area that they came from. It says something alright about pensions. Fascinating!


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,232 ✭✭✭neilled


    73Cat wrote: »
    Thank for that link :). Have found mention of my Grandad and his brother, in someone else's statement, as being part of a "company", as it's called, that took part in several attacks on an RIC (I think) barracks in Co. Wexford. It must be them, the same names, and the area that they came from. It says something alright about pensions. Fascinating!

    Well its not the same as bringing your granddad back for a chat, but at least its something! A company is a military unit - these days they can be from 80-200 strong depending on what nation they are from. In reality the unit that your granddad was part of could have been anything from 30 and upwards.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,021 ✭✭✭johnny_doyle


    attached image is part the firing party from the 1966 funeral of John Joe O'Brien, Galbally, Co Limerick.


  • Registered Users Posts: 448 ✭✭Stooped


    My great-grandad was in the Old IRA, and my dad was at his funeral when he was 15 or something, he told me that they had the gun fire salute thing to him so I suspect that that might be mandatory for all the funerals? The shells from the guns are on display in a museum in Roscommon atm.


  • Registered Users Posts: 300 ✭✭Luca Brasi


    Yes, I would have now liked to have gotten a few stories off him, but he didn't really warm to me, possibly because I was an insufferable little bollix at the time!


    Are you Eamonn Dunphy?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,073 ✭✭✭gobnaitolunacy


    Luca Brasi wrote: »
    Are you Eamonn Dunphy?

    No, I don't do as much boozing/recreational drug-taking as ED.


  • Registered Users Posts: 514 ✭✭✭Savage93


    Yes, I would have now liked to have gotten a few stories off him, but he didn't really warm to me, possibly because I was an insufferable little bollix at the time!

    No change there then :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,073 ✭✭✭Rubberlegs


    Stooped wrote: »
    My great-grandad was in the Old IRA, and my dad was at his funeral when he was 15 or something, he told me that they had the gun fire salute thing to him so I suspect that that might be mandatory for all the funerals? The shells from the guns are on display in a museum in Roscommon atm.

    I still have one of the shells from my Grandad's funeral. My Dad picked it up and told me to hang on to it. Wouldn't part with it. It went missing for ages there a few years back, was glad to find it again....:eek:


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,107 ✭✭✭enfield


    In the early 1970s while in the Defence Forces I was part of a firing party at the funeral of an IRA man at the cemetery in Harolds Cross. We were stationed in Collins Barracks. I think there were four in the party and one N.C.O., and we shot three rounds each over the grave. As we only had blanks there would have been an armed escort with live ammunition to protect the men and weapons.
    Tom


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