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07-09-2018, 12:57   #1
Ascendant
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Liam Mellows and the planning for the Easter Rising in Galway

Article on Liam Mellows and the build-up to the Easter Rising in Co. Galway.

Rebel Scout: Liam Mellows and His Revolutionary Rise, 1911-6 (Part I)

When Mellows stepped off the train at Athenry in April 1915, the Irish Volunteers who had assembled to greet him were disappointed at the delicate-looking young man Dublin had sent to help organise them. They soon learnt their mistake when Mellows took them on a marching exercise, where he drove them mercilessly until many dropped from exhaustion, while he remained unruffled.




(Liam Mellows, doing his best 'intense' expression)

Mellows, remembered one Galway man, "was very boyish-looking and full of enthusiasm for his work. He impressed us tremendously by his determination and, looking at his slight figure and boyish appearance, we wondered where all his determination came from."

Despite his tender years, and his father's career in the British Army, Mellows was already an old hand in the budding revolutionary scene. He had made his mark in the Fianna Éireann, the Fenian answer to the Boy Scouts, where he displayed a natural rapport with the younger lads, with the gift of imparting his own enthusiasm onto them.

At the same time, he was inducted into the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), through which he made contacts with other up-and-coming leaders such as Bulmer Hobson, Con Colbert and Seán Mac Diarmada. He also became acquainted with James Connolly, becoming, as Ina Connolly remembered, "firmly attached to my father and family."

When the Irish Volunteers were formed in November 1913, Mellows was among those Fianna officers who joined. His IRB contacts and an aptitude for hard work ensured his rise among the Volunteers was a swift one, and he was soon appointed Executive Secretary. As much a doer as a planner, Mellows helped oversee the gun-running operations in Howth and Kilcoole, July and August 1914 respectively, which saw the Irish Volunteers suddenly flush with firepower.






(Irish Volunteers on parade)


Later, Mellows took on the role of on-the-road organiser for the Irish Volunteers, making Galway his base of operations. In March 1916, he told Alf Monahan, a fellow IRB member, to impress upon the Galway men that any attempt by the authorities to confiscate their weapons was to be resisted.

"From this it will be seen that [the IRB] G.H.Q. had reasons for having Galway very specially organised and equipped for the coming Rising," Monahan later explained. When news came of the plan for a countrywide insurrection, set for the Easter Week of 1916, it was of no surprise to either him or Mellows.

Arrest and deportation, however, threatened to derail Mellows' planned role in the big event. It was up to Nora Connolly, daughter of James, to find her old friend and bring him back in time.



(Nora Connolly)

Last edited by Ascendant; 07-09-2018 at 16:33.
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05-10-2018, 13:01   #2
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Interesting articles, including on the tensions within Irish nationalism, within the Irish volunteer themselves:

https://www.historyireland.com/20th-...ing-in-galway/

And the wider group, e.g. between the then much larger Home Rule faction and the radical fringe of Irish Volunteers/IRB/sinn fein:

https://www.historyireland.com/20th-...alway-in-1916/

interesting quotes about Galway at the time (1916):
"IRA Volunteer Martin O’Regan recalled that ‘Loughrea was one hundred per cent anti-national at this time’, and Volunteer Thomas Courtney remembered, ‘Thinking back over the years, I have come to the conclusion that Galway town was, and in my opinion still is, the most shoneen town in Ireland’."

"In Galway town, the Irish Volunteers were practically wiped out in one night in October 1914 following widespread rioting, with republicans and their supporters literally beaten along the streets by an angry crowd of nationalists."

"For a political revolution to be ultimately successful, an excess of forgetting can often be as important as an excess of remembering, and Galway nationalists’ cooperation with the Crown forces during Easter Week raised awkward questions for many prominent people in the town in the years that followed the Rising."
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19-10-2018, 22:04   #3
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Very interesting.

Mellows is one of my favourite leaders of this time period, a very underrated Revolutionary in my opinion. But I think articles like this helps destroy that conservative myth that the Rising was a simple blood sacrifice.

The Rising plan was to occupy Dublin & the other major towns & cities across Ireland & catch a weakend British Army in a pinzer movement.

Pearse said during his military trial that had the plan gone ahead he believed that "an Irish Republic would not only be proclaimed but "enthroned" also". https://socialistworker.org/2016/04/...-colonial-rule

Was there any successful ambushes carried out by the IRA in Galway during the 1919-21 war? I know there was one or two in Mayo.
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20-10-2018, 00:25   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donaghs View Post
Interesting articles, including on the tensions within Irish nationalism, within the Irish volunteer themselves:

https://www.historyireland.com/20th-...ing-in-galway/

And the wider group, e.g. between the then much larger Home Rule faction and the radical fringe of Irish Volunteers/IRB/sinn fein:

https://www.historyireland.com/20th-...alway-in-1916/

interesting quotes about Galway at the time (1916):
"IRA Volunteer Martin O’Regan recalled that ‘Loughrea was one hundred per cent anti-national at this time’, and Volunteer Thomas Courtney remembered, ‘Thinking back over the years, I have come to the conclusion that Galway town was, and in my opinion still is, the most shoneen town in Ireland’."

"In Galway town, the Irish Volunteers were practically wiped out in one night in October 1914 following widespread rioting, with republicans and their supporters literally beaten along the streets by an angry crowd of nationalists."

"For a political revolution to be ultimately successful, an excess of forgetting can often be as important as an excess of remembering, and Galway nationalists’ cooperation with the Crown forces during Easter Week raised awkward questions for many prominent people in the town in the years that followed the Rising."

Doesn't surprise me - the main political conflict in Ireland 1917-8 was that between the IPP and the new Sinn Féin. You get the impression from Griffith's newspaper and speeches from his allies that the IPP were regarded as the main enemy, with Britain added almost as an afterthought.

And then you had the hostility between the 'old' Sinn Féin with their preference for a more constitutional approach and the newcomers such as Collins and Brugha who were only waiting for another round of warfare.
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20-10-2018, 00:39   #5
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Originally Posted by BalcombeSt4 View Post
Very interesting.

Mellows is one of my favourite leaders of this time period, a very underrated Revolutionary in my opinion. But I think articles like this helps destroy that conservative myth that the Rising was a simple blood sacrifice.
Indeed - the Rising was months in the planning, and Mellows for one was aiming to win.

It is true, however, that the leaders like Pearse and Clarke were less interested in winning and more in having a Rising for the sake of one. Hence the decision to ignore MacNeill's countermanding order and go ahead with whatever men they could, despite how that meant they were taking a leap in the dark.

Quote:
The Rising plan was to occupy Dublin & the other major towns & cities across Ireland & catch a weakend British Army in a pinzer movement.

Pearse said during his military trial that had the plan gone ahead he believed that "an Irish Republic would not only be proclaimed but "enthroned" also". https://socialistworker.org/2016/04/...-colonial-rule
The what-ifs one could play with...

If the Rising had been countrywide as intended and not the mishmash it was, you'd have the cities and major towns (outside of the to-be Six Counties) in rebel hands.

Wrinkling out each and every one of them would have been a nightmare in time and logistics for an overstretched British Army, rather than being allowed to concentrate on Dublin as what happened. Quite possibly, the British Government might have decided to get a deal then and there, and then go back to focusing on the war in Europe.

On the other hand, the loss of the Aud and its weapons shipment meant that the Volunteers were pitifully equipped, something that was commented on in later Bureau of Military History Statements. When British soldiers found the abandoned Volunteer base at Limepark, pike-heads were among the items discarded, as if this was an reenactment of 1798.

Had the Galway men continued in the field like Mellows wanted, it would have been a slaughter.
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20-10-2018, 07:19   #6
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^ I agree with 99% of that. But I think Pearse & Clarke were interested in winning through out the whole of the events but it became extremely unlikely that they could win after the Aud had been scuttled & Casement arrested.

I think they were still hoping that when they proclaimed the Republic & took control of Dublin that the general population would rise up.
I mean the Zapatistas in Mexico went out with less men & thanks to the population in the area taking their side they were able to control the Mexican province of Chiapas.
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