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Early Days

I was born in January, 1897, last century at Lickeen, Kilfenora, and went to school to Cahersherkin National School. About 1912, I was kept home from school. It was a time of land agitation all over - in Co. Clare especially, some landlords owned miles of country and the people wanted the land divided between small tenants or others under the Land League. The cry was then 'the land for the people and the roads for the bullocks' and that led to the cattle drive and to arrest and imprisonment of those engaged in them and to retaliation from the landlords.

The custom in winter time was for the old people in the locality to meet at night in one local house and to discuss the happenings of the time and of the past. Some of them I remember saying they hoped they would live to see the day that the landlords, police, and their informers, would be banished from the country. The I.R.B. [Irish Republican Brotherhood] were organised in groups all over the country and took part in the land agitation in Clare and Galway. In other areas they were prevented from so doing.

Clare at that time (my school days) was called 'the county of Moonlighters.' Things carried on in this fashion until 1912, when the first labour strikes took place in Dublin, around when Home Rule was being introduced. [Edward] Carson was trying to start an army at the time. When the workers went on strike in Dublin, [James] Connolly organised the Citizens' Army to protect the strikers from the police and seized Liberty Hall. The Citizens' Army united with the Irish Volunteers in the lead up to the events of 1916.

Evidence of the connection of some of my forbears with Fenian Brotherhood was discovered by me one day when, while searching in a loft for some article, I found a cap and small pistol. I was in my teens at the time and knew enough to realize that what I had found were Fenian relics. I decided to take them to a man, who, I was aware, had been a member of the Fenian Brotherhood. He not only confirmed what I had suspected, but repaired the pistol and gave me a .32 revolver and some ammunition. He did not disclose to me how he had acquired these articles, nor did I ask him. In later years, I brought this gift with me into the Irish Volunteer Movement.

<< Memoirs of Andrew O'Donoghue