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The Cloona Company

The Cloona company for a time was managed by a committee, of which the first chairman was Thomas Barry. The mobilisations were held in Ardmore on the lands of J. & M. Collins, which were also used for hurling and football by the Cloona G.A.A. Club. A vacant house in this place subsequently became known as 'Liberty Hall' and was used in later years as the meeting place for all bodies connected with the Republican movement. In the early years of its existence, the Cloona company held weekly meetings for drill and target practice with .22 rifles. Timber rifles were obtained for drill purposes, and unlimited quantities of .22 ammunition seemed to be available through the hardware shops in Ennistymon where a few enthusiastic members of the company were employed. Expenses incurred in connection with training were met by weekly levies on the members who then numbered about fifty or sixty.

In May, 1915, Ernest Blythe came to the district as an organiser. I remember having received a membership card which he issued to each Volunteer, and being led by him on some very tough route marchers which gave a trying time to R.I.C. men who had orders from their authorities to keep Blythe under constant observation. During his stay in the areas, he established new Irish Volunteer companies in Doolin and Liscannor. There was no company in Ennistymon at this time as most of the old company followed Redmond into the National Volunteers, and the few who stood loyal to the Irish Volunteer Executive transferred to the Cloona company. Because of his activities in Clare, Blythe was deported under DORA, a nickname given at the time to a piece of legislation enacted in the British Parliament and styled Defence of the Realm Act. Some time during Blythe’s visit, Seamus Conneally, Cullinagh, became Captain of the Cloona company.

In 1915, a number of weekly papers supporting the Irish Volunteer movement came regularly to our company, especially 'The Irish Volunteer', 'The Worker’s Republic' and 'The Spark'. Anyone capable of reading these papers intelligently could clearly see that the time for armed military action by the Volunteers and kindred bodies was coming soon, especially from what appeared in the issues in the spring of 1916.

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