Two Offaly republicans were executed 100 years ago

Two Offaly republicans were executed 100 years ago

Patrick Geraghty, the Offaly No 1 Brigade member who was executed by the Irish Free State 100 years ago.

Published: Mon 30 Jan 2023, 20:45

Last Friday, January 27, was 100 years since two members of the Offaly No. 1 Brigade of the Irish Republican Army was executed by the Irish Free State during the Irish Civil War.

Patrick Geraghty (33), a farmer from Oldtown, Rochfortbridge, an active duty officer in the Irish Republican Army’s Offaly No. 1 Brigade during the War of Independence, was shot by a National Army firing squad at Maryborough (Portlaoise) on 27 January 1923.

Both Geraghty and his IRA comrade, Joseph Byrne (a native of Daingean, County Offaly), were said to be in possession of firearms – an automatic pistol and a Webley revolver respectively – when captured by Provisional Government forces in November 1922 was taken.

Geraghty was apprehended after a firefight at a farmhouse in Croghan, County Offaly, near Tyrrellspass, and although he was certainly armed, republicans at the time charged that Byrne was unarmed, and therefore unfairly sentenced to death under the Public Safety Act.

Both men were members of the Offaly No. 1 Brigade’s 3rd (Tyrrellspass) Battalion, of which Geraghty served as OC. The executions in Portlaoise led to a great outpouring of grief in their native communities, and were another demoralizing blow to the anti-Treaty IRA, who by then had all been removed from every county except Munster.

In April 1923, Laurence Ginnell – who at the time represented the anti-Treaty allies in the United States – sent money from America to alleviate the plight of the Byrne and Geraghty families. By then the Civil War was almost at an end.

Geraghty’s execution hit his family hard. Their father, Thomas, died suddenly in 1913, leaving Patrick and his four sisters in charge of the family farm. In 1932, following the rise to power of Fianna Fáil and Éamon de Valera, Geraghty’s sister, Mary Anne, applied for a military service pension on her brother’s behalf, explaining the family’s degree of dependence on him.

Ms Geraghty said her brother first joined the Irish Volunteers in 1917 and served all the way through the War of Independence, Armistice and Civil War periods.

In her 1932 application, she explained that she was her brother’s only surviving dependent, and was now living in difficult circumstances with an old aunt. To add weight to her application, she recalled that in March 1926 “President de Valera, Art O’Connor [the former Sinn Féin TD for South Kildare] and Eamon Donnelly [a former Irish Volunteer and de Valera’s co-founder of Fianna Fáil] called at home”.

Among Ms Geraghty’s referees was her fellow parishioner Alice Ginnell, wife of the then-deceased Laurence Ginnell, who told the pensions board that the surviving Geraghty family members “were all in poor circumstances and not of the outspoken variety, but their work did. and suffered silently and without complaint”.

In 1933 Mary Anne Geraghty was granted a partial dependent’s gratuity of £112 and 10 shillings, and from 1954 until her death in 1973 she was given a dependent’s allowance.

Published: Mon 30 Jan 2023, 20:45

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