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|War of Independence and Civil
Patrick (Pat) Keane, Kilnamona; personal statement
Ex O/C Kilnamona A Coy, 3rd Batt., Mid Clare
I joined the Kilnamona Coy. Clare Bgde. I.V. (Irish Volunteers) in 1913 and took the side of the I.V. at the division in 1914. The Coy was reorganised on the 31st October 1915 when I again joined. The original roll of members dated 31st October 1915 is still available – the Coy was then 29 strong (J. Keating O/C). I took part in all Coy parades and carried out all orders of my superior officers.
In Easter week 1916, I did no actual fighting but attended meetings and standing to. Five of the senior members of the Coy turned out with arms etc. awaiting further orders. They cut wires and did other minor things (names: Ml Brody (deceased); John Brody; John Keating; Ml Hegarty and T. O’Brien). After Easter week I helped to raise funds for the Volunteer force and dependents of Volunteers. There was very little activity in Coy area from May 1916 to May 1917 when the Coy was reorganised on a large scale. Reorganisation was helped by the general enthusiasm before and after the East Clare election campaign. The Coy in October 1917 was about 70 strong - all those who took the side of the Redmond Volunteers in 1914 having again joined the I.V.
I took a very active part in the East Clare election – did guard duty at several places including Ennis, Clooney, Ruan and Kilnamona. I did guard duty for two days, the day of polling and day of counting of votes at Ennis Courthouse and on the streets of Ennis under Frank Barrett and Major General Brennan. We were then armed with sticks. On the 11th Sept 1917 I took part in an attack on two R.I.C. (police) at Kilnamona with stones and other missiles on the occasion of visit by the late Peader Clancy to Coy area.
I took part in open drilling and organising in presence of the R.I.C. in the autumn of 1917. Our arrangement being to drill in turns as each man was arrested, casting lots for places. Only one man was arrested (T. Marrinan). When general release took place in February 1918 I marched with Coy to the Crowe estate and did guard duty for the day. I was arrested with three others on the 18th March 1918 and charged with unlawful assembly on the estate. Up to 60 persons assembled on the lands, but only four were arrested and charged. I was picked out for arrest as a result of the attack on the R.I.C. the previous September - I had information that I would be arrested at the first opportunity. I served three months hard labour at Limerick and Mountjoy jails in company with Major T. McGrath, Pierce Beasley (member of the Dáil for Kerry East) and several others. After release I again joined my Coy and continued training and securing arms when the opportunity occurred.
In July 1919 I was visited by the R.I.C. after the attack on the Inch and Connolly R.I.C. Barracks. During that year I took part in all the activities of the Coy.
On the 23rd June 1920, I was posted with gun at O’Connell St Ennis to hold up a British soldier with rifle and bayonet on the occasion of the successful disarming of the British Patrol (O/C J. Barrett). On the occasion of the successful capture of Ruan Barracks on the 18th October 1920 I was on outpost duty at Toonagh on the Ennis-Corofin, Ruan roads. Five other members of the Coy were with me (P. Brody, J. Barrett, J. Griffey, T. Cahir and T. Brody). About 9th Dec 1920, accompanied by P. Brody and T. Cahir from Coy, I received war material near Mental Hospital Ennis from Chief Supt Con Halloran and Guard Stephen McInerney and conveyed some 20 miles by night to equip column for Monreal ambush the following day. I took part in the capture of mails for four Post Offices on every occasion that they were taken prior to the truce of July 11th 1921.
I was appointed Coy O/C on the 9th of February 1921 over the 1st and 2nd Leiut’s – I was Coy Adjutant previously and Coy Section Commander before that. About 18th February 1921 with P. Brody and T. Callaghan, Dysart I visited P. Kelly Rate Collector and demanded his Rates Books, which were not in his house. We compelled him to come with us in his own car 4 miles to Ennis and got his books at the Abbey Club 35 yards from the R.I.C. Barracks, and then compelled him to drive to the other side of the town. Kelly was under R.I.C. protection for several years previous to that and was known to be well armed.
On the 24th March 1921 I marched with the column 10 miles to attack R.I.C. on Black and Tan patrol at Corofin. We remained in ambush several hours, the enemy failing to appear. Others with me on the occasion: Sean Casey O/C, Commdt P. Kierse, Jas Kierse, P. Brody, M. Hogan, D. O’Loughlen, Peadar O’Breen and two others.
I was solely responsible for the capture of a suspect named Quirke, May 1st 1921 who was wanted by the Brigade. I kept him prisoner for a week until taken over by Brigade Council.
On May 17th 1921 I with five others from my Coy fully armed marched with Brigade Column to place of proposed attack on enemy lorries on the Ennis Corofin Road (at Toonagh) (F. Barrett O/C). The entire Brigade column, over 100 men were mobilised in my area for the proposed attack, I being responsible for providing food and other things for the Column the previous night. Practically all members of my Coy were engaged in a network of blockades for proposed ambush.
Two volunteers from my Coy were dangerously wounded in an encounter with black and Tans on the streets of Ennis on the 26th June 1921. I visited them at the Hospital, Ennis a few hours later getting through the guard to make arrangements for their removal. On Dr McClancy’s advice they were not removed for two weeks.
Heavy duties as Coy O/C and member of the 3rd Batt A.S.U. (Active Service Unit). I was responsible for guarding Brigade Council meetings as they were nearly all held in my Coy area.
In November 1921 I was responsible for making arrangements for the review of three Battalions by President De Valera in my Coy area.
I was the only officer with the Battalion Adjutant J. Minahan selected by the Brigade Council to attend for training as officers of the future army at the Survey College Ennis in January 1922 under Major General Brennan. At the end of training period I was one of 33 out of more than 100 officers from the 1st Western Division who passed the exam for Commissions. I was sent in Charge of Lisdoonvarna Barracks in March 1922 with about 16 men. After the division in April 1922 I was approached on three occasions by Free State Officers and offered the rank of Captain with charge of Ennistymon Free State army H. Qrs. if I gave up my command of Lisdoonvarna Barracks.
In August 1922 I was two weeks at Brigade Officers training Camp at Kilfenora under F. Barrett; two weeks at Battalion Officers Camp at Kilkeedy and Dysart, Sean Casey O/C. I was continuously active during the Truce period attending camps, Battalion meetings and perfecting my Coy in drill and the use of arms.
I was appointed Group Q.M. (Quarter Master) at Ennistymon (Q.M. for 5 Barracks) about May 1922 in succession to J. Minahan then transferred to the Divisional Head Qrs. S. O’Grady T.D. was then O/C Group. I was appointed O/C Group about the middle of June 1922 at Ennistymon in succession to Sean O’Grady T.D. who was transferred to the Divisional Staff. I held the latter post until the Barracks were destroyed by us on the 1st of July 1922.
I then went to Corofin Barracks, the Divisional Head Qrs, and was taken from there to go out with a Column of about 16 men under Capt J. Barrett. When destroying a Bridge near Ennis we were ambushed by Free State army forces. On that occasion (July 1922) I was in charge of 6 men and also in charge of a small number of men on outpost duty when our Head Qrs at Edenvale was attacked by Free State forces in July 1922. I was in charge of an advanced guard of 7 or 8 men when proceeding to destroy Latoon Bridge on the Ennis-Limerick road about August 1922. We were ambushed by 7 or 8 forces which were lying wait for us, one man wounded. Capt J. Barrett was in Supreme Command on that occasion.
About the end of August 1922 I was sent by my commander Capt J. Barrett to plan an attack on Ennistymon National army Head Qrs. I was captured when making a map of the grounds and Barracks and other arrangements. I was subsequently imprisoned at Ennis, Limerick Prison Ship at Dun Laoghaire and Gormanstown Camp to December 1923. Oscar Traynor was O/C at Gormanstown Camp.
[Note: Some ranks/titles refer to those as of 1935, e.g. Major General Brennan, Seán O’Grady T.D.]