Fianna Éireann

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The sunburst flag, a symbol of Fianna Éireann

Fianna Éireann, organised as a youth hurling league for boys and girls, existed in West Belfast, ca. 1903.[1] This was the brainchild of Bulmer Hobson, a committed Irish Republican Brotherhood member. Hobson relocated to Dublin and the organisation collapsed in Belfast. In Dublin, Hobson became acquainted with Constance Markievicz, Helena Moloney and others, who were all members of the newly founded Sinn Féin. They were members of the Drumcondra branch. Hobson told Markievicz of his Belfast experiment and the seed was sown with her. With Helena Moloney and Seán McGarry, Markievicz and Hobson soon recreated a new Fianna Éireann. Prior to the setting up of Na Fianna in Dublin in 1909, it has now transpired that Lord Baden Powell had reportedly unsuccessfully sought the assistance of Patrick Pearse in setting up a branch of his Boy Scouts in Dublin.[2]

Irish Volunteers[edit]

As Na Fianna Éireann had been organised four years earlier than the Irish Volunteers, and that many of its members were now young adults, fully trained in many aspects of warfare, it was no wonder that many young members transferred over to the Volunteers in 1913. The original committee which set up the new volunteer movement had three Fianna members on it. (Hobson, ibid.) Seamus Pounch was instrumental in the training of the newly formed Cumann na mBan in 1914. (Witness Statement of Seamus Pounch)

Fianna Éireann Handbook[edit]

Fianna Éireann scouts engaged in field medical training, c.1914

As with all scouting organisations, an instructional handbook was a necessity. The job of producing this book fell to Padraig O'Riain. With articles from Patrick Pearse and Roger Casement, and advertisements from suppliers of uniforms and equipment, the first Fianna handbook appeared in 1913. It came at a time when the Irish Volunteers was founded and the book was widely used by this group also. Countess Markievicz bought a large rambling house at Ranelagh, Surrey House. It became the unofficial headquarters of Na Fianna for some time. The older boys would gather and train here, and a mini firing range was set up in the basement. The boys also had a radio set in operation and this led to a raid from the DMP. A proper HQ was later set up in D'Olier Street. (Witness Statement of Garry Holohan)

Gun running[edit]

Na Fianna played a major part in the Howth and Kilcoole gun-running episodes. Fianna members brought their treck-cart to Howth Pier to meet the Asgard. The treck-cart was full of homemade batons, and these were distributed to the Volunteers on the pier. The cart was then used to carry the surplus rifles back to the city. At Clontarf, the DMP and British Military were awaiting the return of the volunteers and a confrontation ensued. Fianna officers made a quick decision and detoured with their gun-laden cart up the Howth Road, arriving eventually at Kilmore Road, Artane, where the arms were safely stored for future recovery. (Holohan, ibid.)

1916 insurrection[edit]

Fian Seán Healy, Na Fianna Éireann. Youngest casualty on the Republican side at 15 years old, 1916 Rising, Dublin, Ireland

Fianna was represented at all the garrisons that were involved in the fighting of Easter Week 1916. Even though they were then more heavily involved with the Irish Volunteers, Cornelius Colbert and Seán Heuston were still regarded as Fianna members. Colbert was under the command of Éamonn Ceannt at Watkins Brewery, while Heuston was given the task of commanding the Mendicity Institution. Colbert and Heuston both were executed for their part in the Rising. In Galway, Liam Mellows was in command of activities, but he escaped capture and got safely to the United States. Countess Markievicz, second in command to Michael Mallin at the College of Surgeons, was sentenced to death, but eventually reprieved due to her gender. After the provisional government abandoned the GPO, and set up HQ at Moore Street, James Connolly gave command of the GPO to Seán McLoughlin, a Fianna officer. His orders were to oversee the safe retreat of the rest of the occupants.[3]

Several of the Fianna were killed in action at that time. Seán Healy was shot dead at Phibsboro whilst delivering despatches, and Seán Howard and Seán Ryan died in similar fashion. Volunteers under the command of Fianna officer Paddy Houlihan captured and burned down the Linenhall Barracks. Eamon Martin, a future Chief of Staff was seriously wounded at the Broadstone Railway Station. Possibly the first shots of the Rising were fired by Fianna officers who attacked and captured the Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park. Playfair George Alexander aged 23, the son of the fort commander, was shot and killed by Garry Holohan as he [Playfair] ran to raise the alarm at Islandbridge Barracks. (Holohan, ibid.)

Internment[edit]

At least fifteen Fianna officers from the Dublin Brigade were rounded up after the Rising and interned at Frongoch, North Wales (witness statement of Eamon Martin).

Inspector Mills of the DMP[edit]

One year after the Rising, a large demonstration was held outside the burnt-out shell of Liberty Hall. A large contingent of DMP, under an Inspector Mills, arrived and the Riot Act was read to the crowd. The police waded into the crowd with batons and Inspector Mills was struck a mortal blow to the head with a hurley stick. His assailant was Eamon Murray, a young Fianna officer, who was O/C of a Sluagh on Parnell Square. Murray made off from the scene along Abbey Street, pursued by a DMP man. He was cornered at Marlborough Street, but he drew a revolver and the policeman backed off. Murray was secreted away to the United States, where he remained until the Truce of 1921. He later fought with the anti-Treaty IRA during the Civil War. (Holohan, ibid.)

Post 1916 reorganisation[edit]

A provisional governing committee was set up in Dublin in May 1916, including Eamon Martin, Seamus Pounch, Theo Fitzgerald, Liam Staines and Joe Reynolds. All had evaded the round-up after the Rising. This committee functioned until January 1917, when it handed over command to the newly released senior officers. (Witness Statement of Joe Reynolds)

Na Fianna was first to re-organise after the Easter Rising of 1916. In February 1917 a section of Na Fianna marched in full uniform to mass at Blanchardstown, County Dublin for Michael Mallin, who had been executed following the Easter Rising. "As the police did not interfere, we got courage and got bolder and bolder. On one route march, the police at James Street stopped us and an Inspector of the DMP grabbed me. However, as the Fianna scouts became so threatening, I was released." (Witness Statement of Garry Holohan)

Na Fianna continued to defy the British ban on marching and parading, and drilled openly with hurleys in open defiance. This inevitably led to clashes with the DMP and the RIC in outlying areas. The most notable clash occurred in July 1917, when the whole Dublin Battalion went on a route march through the South City and County. Efforts were made by the DMP to stop the march and break it up at Terenure and Rathmines DMP stations, but the paraders broke through the cordons at both points. The march continued to the GPO, where the parade was dismissed. (Witness Statement of Aodh Mac Neill)

Seán Saunders recalled being arrested with at Milltown with Roddy Connolly (son of James Connolly), Hugo MacNeill, Theo Fitzgerald, Seán McLoughlin and Garry Holohan. (Witness Statement of Seán Saunders)

Reorganisation of June 1917[edit]

An intensive recruiting campaign had been set in motion throughouthe city and county after the earlier reorganisation of January 1917, and it proved to be a tremendous success. Recruits came in large numbers and new companies were formed. In June, the Dublin Battalion had become so large and unwieldy, that it was decided to set up a Brigade structure of two battalions. The county was simply split in two, with the Liffey as the divide. South of the Liffey became the 1st Battalion and north of the Liffey became the 2nd Battalion. The Dublin Brigade Staff in June 1917 comprised Garry Holohan (Commandant), P.J. Stephenson (Adjutant) and Joe Reynolds (QM).

Army Agreement[edit]

It came to the attention of GHQ Staff c1918, that in many areas around the country that Na Fianna was being controlled by the local units of the Irish Volunteers. A meeting of Fianna GHQ representatives and Volunteer representatives was held in Dublin to discuss the problem. What emerged from this meeting was known as the Army Agreement. From that point on, the Volunteers would not seek to control Fianna in their areas. Those who reached the age of seventeen had transferred to the Volunteers ranks; this would now cease and any transfer would be voluntary. The volunteer O/C was to liaise with the Fianna O/C on all local matters, and due consideration was to be extended to Fianna. During the "Tan War" Fianna members featured prominently in every brigade area. Some lost their lives or were imprisoned. In the picture taken of the West Mayo Brigade Active Service Unit in 1921, ten of the thirty in the photograph had been members of the Westport Fianna Sluagh, as had Tom Derrig, who rose to the rank of Adjutant General during the Civil War. (Westport Fianna Sluagh, Westport Historical Society Journal, 2007 publication.)

Truce[edit]

During the Truce, Na Fianna devoted a great amount of time to training. At least three full-time training camps were set up to train potential officers. Each prospective officer had to attend the camp for one weeks training. One of these camps was held at Kilmore Road, Artane and another at Kilmashogue Mountain. Na Fianna held discussions all over the country where they debated the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. At an Ard Fheis, Fianna rejected the Treaty and called for all to still work for a Republic. In support of this, the Dublin Brigade's Fianna Éireann marched to The Smithfield where they were reviewed by senior Republican leaders. (Poblacht na h-Éireann, 16 January 1922)

Ard Fheis 1921 At the 1921 Ard Fheis held in Dublin some interesting figures were given about the strength of the organisation:-

Munster had 84 Fianna Sluaithe (branches) Ulster " 20 " " Connaught " 10 " " Leinster " 41 " "

Kerry had 37 Sluaithe Cork " 24 " Dublin " 16 " (Figures taken from thesis of John R. Watts, Edinburgh University, 1981)

Civil War[edit]

Fianna Éireann played a major part in the civil war fighting, especially in Dublin. When the Four Courts Garrison was attacked in July 1922, a second front was created to relieve the Four Courts. The Dublin Brigade, Fianna Éireann provided many leaders in this period. All along the eastern side of O'Connell Street buildings were taken over and barricaded. Parnell Square and Parnell Street were similarly barricaded. Fianna, under their new Brigadier, Seán Harling, took over 35 North Great Georges Street as a barracks. (Bureau of Military History, Witness Statement of Seán Saunders)

In August 1922 (the same month that saw the deaths of Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith), Na Fianna Éireann sustained a heavy blow when two of their senior officers in Dublin, Seán Cole and Alf Colley, were shot dead by Free State Army Intelligence members at The Thatch, Whitehall.

400 officers and boys of Na Fianna had taken part in the Dublin fighting of 1922. By October of that year, the only active members were in an ASU of eight members led by Frank Sherwin. Fianna ceased to function as an open organisation by Christmas. All senior Fianna members were being rounded up by the Free State military and CID, and at the internment camp, Tintown 3, at the Curragh there was one hut dedicated to Fianna members, some as young as fourteen years. (Watts Thesis 1981)

Executions[edit]

The bullet-riddled corpses of three teenaged Na Fianna scouts Edwin Hughes (17), Joseph Rogers (16) and Brendan Holohan (16) were found at The Quarries, Naas Road, Clondalkin, on 28 November 1922.[4] They were all from Drumcondra area and had been putting up republican posters in the Clonliffe Road district. They were arrested by high-ranking Free State officer, Charlie Dalton (younger brother of Emmet Dalton). The scouts were brought for interrogation to Wellington Barracks, where Free State Army Intelligence had their HQ. That was the last time that they were seen alive.

When the Free State started to execute Republican prisoners, the first to be shot were four young men who had left Na Fianna to join the Republican Army. They were followed by another group of three, who had similarly graduated from the ranks of the Dublin Brigade, Fianna Éireann.[5]

The executions of Rory O'Connor, Joe McKelvey, Liam Mellows and Dick Barrett became a symbol for Na Fianna. They became known as "The Four Martyrs". Until 1964, an annual concert was held by Na Fianna to commemorate their executions. A very prominent ex Fianna officer, Aodh MacNeill (son of Eoin MacNeill), officiated at the executions. Eamon Martin related that he was a cellmate of Mellows in Mountjoy Prison. It is now estimated that some 22,000 people were interned during the Civil War period 1922–24. Fianna Éireann was decimated with the loss of most of its officers and the organisation went underground until well after the general release of prisoners in 1924. There was mass unemployment then, and most young men had to emigrate to survive.

1925 Ard Fheis Fianna Chief, Countess Markievicz Adjutant General, Barney Mellows A/Adjutant General, Alfie White Director of Organisation, Liam Langley A/Director of Organisation, Frank Sherwin QMG, Joe Reynolds A/QMG Sean Harling

Informer on GHQ Staff

Sean Harling had been an outstanding Fianna officer for years. After internment he got married and eventually fell on hard times. In his own words, he was compromised by the Free State Special Branch and agreed to become an agent for them within the republican movement. He was eventually exposed by the Fianna Intelligence Officer, Frank Sherwin in 1926. Two former Fianna members made an attempt on his life in 1928, but Harling escaped and actually shot dead one of his attackers, Tim Coghlan of Inchicore. Harling was secreted out of the country by the Special Branch and ended up in the US until his return in 1933 to Ireland. (Report of Inquiry into the death of Tim Coghlan, 1928, at NA.)

Fianna proscribed[edit]

1930 Fianna get use of Hardwicke hall as a headquarters. George Plunkett nominated by Army (IRA) as Chief Scout. This was a nominal position and the organisation was run by the HQ staff. At this time, Fianna expanded in proportion to the rest of the Republican Movement.

1933 Frank ryan becomes Adjutant General for a period of eight months.

1934 HQ report that there were 104 Sluaithe in operation. 800 paraded under the Fianna flag at Bodenstown that year. Diarmuid MacGiolla Phadraig becomes Adjutant General.

The Free State government brought in new legislation in 1931 to counter the popularity of the resurgent Fianna. Fianna Éireann, the IRA and Cumann na mBan were all classified as illegal organisations. Many arrests followed and these organisations had once again to go underground for a period. When Fianna Fáil was elected to power the following year this legislation was revoked and the prisoners were freed. In 1932, many young republicans switched allegiance from the republican movement to Fianna Fáil. In 1934 the Fianna Fáil government set up a version of the Free State CID, when they enticed members of the Dublin Brigade IRA to join the Special Branch of the Garda Síochána. IRA volunteers were sworn in as Gardaí detective officers and were issued handguns, ammunition, badges and whistles. They were under the control of Ned Broy of the CID and became known as the "Broy Harriers". The term "Broy Harrier" was first used in the Seanad by Senator O'Rourke during the discussion on the Garda Siochana estimates on 13 August 1933. (Report of Seanad debate, National newspapers, 14 August 1933)

1936; Fianna Convention report that there were 18 sluaithe in the organisation. The IRA, Cumann na mBan and Fianna outlawed in June. 1938 An Advisory body of prominent republicans set up to help re-organized a failing Fianna. Included were Count Plunkett, Brian O' Higgins, Mary MacSwiney and Madge Daly.

1939 Joe Atkinson of Belfast appointed as a national organiser and travels about the country on a bicycle, contacting failed Fianna sluaithe and creating new ones. Later that year he was appointed Adjutant General and Liam Nolan of Kerry became National Organiser. George Plunkett resigns as Chief Scout for health reasons.

1940 150 Fianna march in Dublin on eve of Barnes and McCormacks execution in Britain. Fianna in Dublin under control of Jack Rowan, Kevin Hudson and Mattie O'Neill. Four Sluaite in Dublin. Fianna lose use of Hardwicke Hall. Newly released internees help re-organization, including Wattie Bell, Noel and Des Goulding, Paddy Dillon and Mattie Carey. By 1943, owing to arrests, internment and emigration Fianna in Dublin was reduced to one Sluagh, run by Peadar Timmins

1945 Dick Bell released from internment and leads Fianna in Dublin. With Con Dillon as his adjutant and Mattie O'Neill as QM, they set up a Fianna GHQ. Dublin by now (1947) has a new O/C, Des Carron, with Wattie Bell as his adjutant. The first Annual camp is held in 1947 and later that year Carron and Bell cycle to Munster, organising Fianna Sluaithe at Clonmel and Tralee.

1948 First Ard Fheis since 1940 held in Dublin. Dublin reports having but one Sluagh, which met at 9 Parnell Square.

1951 Ard fheis in Dublin reports that 9 Sluaithe are in existence. 500 Fianna at Bodenstown commemoration. Dick Bell re-elected as Chief Scout. 1952 Dick Bell not seeking re-election at Ard Fheis. Tomas MacCurtain nominated as a nominal Chief Scout. 1953 Ned Kelly of Dublin elected as Chief Scout. (Reference; Watt, John R. Thesis on Na Fianna Éireann, Edinburgh University, 1981)

Dick Bell resigned in 1952 and the reins of leadership passed to Tomas MacCurtain. He was a nominal leader and was replaced in 1953 by Ned Kelly of Dublin. When Kelly was dismissed from the republican movement in 1955,he was replaced as Chief Scout by George Darle from Drumcondra, Dublin. Darle was a nominee of the IRA and he brought some new blood into the organisation and had some CBSI experience behind him. (United Irishman, January 1955)

Fianna organisation[edit]

Fianna Éireann survived the Civil war period intact, they had sided with the Republic. The organisation was decimated then, and further disintigration occurred in 1926 when Fianna Fáil was founded. When WW2 broke out, the old IRA and old Fianna organisations marched as a body to Griffith Barracks in Dublin and they joined the Irish Army there as a separate battalion. ( the 26th. Battalion) When on parade, this battalion was allowed to fly the Fianna and Oglaigh na h-Éireann flags. When the war was over these bodies stayed intact and had premises at Parnell Square. They marched in Bodenstown with Fianna Fáil and attended all the usual commemorations organised by the government.

In 1953, the Old Fianna organisation issued an invitation to Ned Kelly (Chief Scout) to meet with them. The Old Fianna reportedly offered their Fianna flag to the Fianna of 1953. However, when Kelly heard that the flag would be handed over in a military barracks in an official ceremony, that was unacceptable, and the parley proved fruitless. The old Fianna petered out in the late 1950s. (Fianna Éireann notes, United Irishman, September 1953)

1950 and after[edit]

A plaque in memory of Fian John Dempsey – currently the last member of the organisation to have been killed on active service

In 1953, Ned Kelly of Long Lane, Dorset Street, Dublin, became Chief Scout. Soon he gathered around him a cadre of young leaders and had four Sluaithe running in the Dublin area. These were at North City, Drimnagh/Crumlin, Dundrum and Finglas. He had as his adjutant Brian McConnell from Swilly Road in Cabra. His QM was Annrai MacGloin, from Bohernabreena.

Saor Uladh[edit]

In 1954/55 a serious split occurred in the republican Movement. Activists, led by Joe Christle, became disenchanted with the leadership. They were looking for armed action in occupied Ireland, but were being restrained by the Army Council. This breakaway group aligned with Saor Uladh. They also set up a youth group, and unfortunately called themselves Fianna Éireann. They had a 'Chief Scout' called Gearoid O'Kelly, who previously had a Fianna Sluagh in Newbridge, but was now living in Ballyboden. This 'Fianna' had one Sluagh at Inchicore, with members mainly from the Drimnagh/Crumlin area. They were unrecognisable from members of Na Fianna Éireann. One serious clash occurred between these groups later in 1959, over the illegal sale of the Easter Lily. Around 1955 Ned Kelly was replaced as Chief Scout by George Darle from Drumcondra. Darle brought some new members into Na Fianna, including Frank Lee and Terry Kiely. At this time high-ranking members like Inchicore republican John McGrath had a high influence on Na Fianna as he brought in many new recruits. They set about reorganising Na Fianna and soon new Sluaithe were being formed in Navan, Dundalk, Drogheda and Sligo. A new modern uniform was also mooted at this time. (Fianna Éireann weekly notes in Dublin Evening Mail, August 1958)

The Border Campaign by the IRA began in December 1956 and it led to Na Fianna losing many of its members, especially in Dublin. In January 1957, 38 IRA recruits were surrounded in a house, used as a training camp, in Glencree, Co. Wicklow. At least 12 of these had been members of Na Fianna in the Dublin Battalion. This was a great set-back at the time, and responsibility now fell on the younger members to carry on with the organising. Finglas, for instance, had lost its O/C, and its QM. (Fianna Éireann notes, United Irishman, February 1957)

Uniform changes ca. 1958[edit]

The uniform in 1958 was basically the same as when Fianna was founded in 1909 and some members were advocating change. Scouts wore a green blouse with two rows of brass buttons, an orange neckerchief, slouch hat, blacks shorts and a white lanyard that was attached to his scout whistle. Officers were still wearing riding breeches and a military type jacket, slouch hat and a Sam Brown belt. As slouch hats were hard to find, berets became the head dress for officers. Different type uniforms were mooted and an American Boy Scout pattern was decided on. Scouts would now wear a green shirt with two pockets and a military-style side hat. The uniforms eventually arrived and were first seen at the annual Dick McKee Commemoration in Finglas Village in November 1958 (United Irishman, December 1958, p. 3). Eventually, the side hats were replaced by a green beret, and the long trousers for officers were replaced by black shorts or breeches again. Lee and Kiely left Na Fianna after a falling out. (Fianna Éireann notes, United Irishman, March 1959)

Jubilee Camp 1959[edit]

  • A committee was sent up by GHQ in 1958 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Na Fianna's founding. Chief scout Jimmy Cruise headed this body and it was decided to hold a camp in central Ireland for all Fianna sluaithe. Permission was given by the Patrician Brothers, Ballyfin, County Laois, to use their extensive grounds for this purpose in August 1959. These were years when money was scarce and travelling made difficult. Consequently, only about 100 Fianna members attended the camp. Each sluagh catered for itself and there were joint activities organised. The Special Branch of the Garda Síochána was busy while the camp was in progress, visiting the homes of Fianna members, especially the young scouts, telling the parents that the boys were on an IRA training camp. Quite a few members were lost this way. In 1959, Fianna was given the privilege of having its colour party lead the annual pilgrimage to the grave of Wolfe Tone at Bodenstown. A report to the Ard Fheis in 1963 showed that, as well as the sluaithe mentioned above, there were now new units in Roscrea, Nenagh, and Ballyfermot/Chapelizod. A new department had been set up which catered for friends of Na fianna who were either too old to join, or were not in a position to do so. This was known as the dept. of Associated Members. This new section was run by the Adjutant General. (Fianna newspaper, January 1964)
A Fianna Éireann/Ógra Shinn Féin colour party at Galbally, Tyrone 2009

Junior members[edit]

Fianna had always catered for boys between the ages of eleven years and sixteen years. About Around 1959 a new idea was put in place to cater for younger boys. This was the brainchild mainly of a Fianna officer from the Finglas Dick McKee Sluagh, Paul Shannon. With the assistance of some Cumann na mBan members, boys as young as eight years were allowed into the ranks of Na Fianna. They wore a plain green sweater and yellow neckerchief. This venture was an immediate success and most Sluaithe followed suit.

Fianna Handbook[edit]

A committee was set up circa 1963 to gather funds to produce a new Fianna handbook. All of the committee were members of the GHQ, and included Liam MacAnUltaigh, Deasun O'Briain, Brian Mulvanney, Uinsionn O'Cathain and Tony Shannon. Funds and advertisers were procured and a new handbook appeared ca. 1965. This was the third edition of the handbook, the others having been printed in 1913 and 1924. (Fianna Handbook advertised for sale in United Irishman, January 1965)

Arrest of Fianna officers[edit]

Around November 1963 action was taken against Gearoid O'Kelly who was posing as "Chief Scout" of Na Fianna. He was constantly seen about Dublin on weekends, collecting money in pubs for 'Republican Prisoners Dependents'. He was warned several times to desist, but continued to carry on. On a Saturday night in November 1963 he was stopped near his home at Ballyboden Road, Rathfarnham, by a party of armed men. They bundled him into a field and "tarred and feathered" him. The consequence of this action was that about eleven senior officers were arrested by the Special Branch the following Monday morning and brought to the Bridewell. (Reports from National newspapers of the date) After a few hours, O'Kelly was brought in to try to identify those who may have assaulted him. The officers were all brought into one room and O'Kelly viewed them through a glass panel from an adjoining room. No one was detained, and most had alibis, as they were at an Ard Coiste meeting at Gardiner Place at the time of the assault and had been seen entering and leaving the building by the Special Branch men who constantly watched that premises. O'Kelly had also fallen out with his 'Fianna' and two of his associates (Weldon and Phelan), spent six months in prison for assaulting him. He gave up his activities at this stage. (report of court case in National newspapers of the date)

Activities[edit]

A Fianna Éireann/Ógra Shinn Féin colour party in Belfast 2010

The 1950s and 1960s were very active years for Fianna members. A Sluagh usually held one meeting per week, where all met on parade in full uniform. All the usual scouting test work was undertaken, games played and instructions given regarding hikes or camps on the following weekend. Weather never held the scouts back from the 'great outdoors', and Fianna members could be encountered in all weathers, especially in the Dublin/Wicklow mountains. This was a time when much military surplus clothing and camping equipment was coming on the market in the aftermath of the Korean War of 1951/2. One Sluagh, Finglas, actually had snow tents. These were ex British Army and were suitable for camping out in all types of weather.

Another favourite weekend pastime was 'shacking'. Throughout the mountains were numerous old deserted houses (shacks), and at weekends Na Fianna would use them for shelter. One favourite one was called 'Thunders' in Glencree. Another was in the Glen of the Downs, beside Delgany Village, where there was a Fianna Sluagh. All-night hikes were a favourite with the officers. The last bus out of town to Rathfarnham, Enniskerry or Bohernabreena would be taken, and then the group would march all night across the hills, to where they would pick up the first bus back to the city again. Youth-hostelling was also undertaken and this was a favourite with the younger scouts. Hostels such as Glencree, Baltyboys and Knockree were all within striking distance of the buses from Dublin. Many Dublin Sluagh organised Whit weekend camps and annual week long camps. During the early 1960s national camps were held at CastleDermot in County Carlow and another at Glencolumbkille in County Donegal.

Republican commemorations were constantly being held and Na Fianna was obliged to turn out in full to them. The annual Easter Commemoration was usually the first on the calendar. The parade would line up at St. Stephens Green and march all the way to Glasnevin Cemetery. On the same day, a parade was usually held in Blackrock or Deans Grange Cemetery as well. The Wolf Tone Commemoration was next in line, usually on the last Sunday in June. This was usually a great day out. Trains would come from Dublin, Cork and Kerry for the occasion, and buses from all parts of the country: it was a festive occasion. In November there was held the Manchester Martyrs parade and concert, and in December Na Fianna always hosted the Four Martyrs Concert in Dublin. In between all of these occasions, there were many times when Na Fianna was invited to provide colour-parties and contingents in various parts of the country to commemorate fallen republican soldiers. It was an era when many headstone, memorials and wayside crosses were erected.

Many republican demonstrations were held in these years to protest against internment and coercion. Na Fianna always played its part on these occasions and was highly visible on the streets when needed. A major source of income always came from the sale of the Easter Lily at Eastertime. Many times the boxes and contents were confiscated by the Garda, as Na Fianna never applied for permits.

Splits[edit]

The Republican Sinn Féin-linked Na Fianna Éireann get ready to march at Bodenstown in 2003

The organisation split into factions with differing political views and ideologies over the subsequent decades, in a manner comparable to that of the various organisations claiming the title Irish Republican Army. Following the 1969/70 split in the Irish Republican Army and Sinn Féin, two organisations claiming the title of Fianna Éireann emerged. One was aligned with the Provisional IRA. The other was aligned with the Official IRA.[citation needed]

The latter developed along socialist lines mirroring the political developments in Official Sinn Féin, and eventually in the late 1970s was renamed the Irish Democratic Youth Movement (IDYM), ending its semi-paramilitary training. It forged links with similar groups associated with communist and workers parties abroad, most notably with the Free German Youth in the German Democratic Republic. With the reorganisation of Sinn Féin The Workers Party into The Workers' Party in 1982, the IDYM became simply Workers' Party Youth, which continues today and has taken a role as an affiliate of the World Federation of Democratic Youth.[citation needed]

Another now defunct Fianna group was linked to the 32 County Sovereignty Movement and allegedly to the Real Irish Republican Army.

The Na Fianna Éireann linked to Republican Sinn Féin claims to be the legitimate Na Fianna Éireann on the basis of Irish republican legitimatism.

Former Chiefs of Staff[edit]

Chief Scouts[edit]

[Sean O'Cionnaith acted as a temporary Chief Scout in late 1964] (Watt, John R. Thesis from Edinburgh University 1981)

Notable former members[edit]

Published books[edit]

  • Damian Lawlor, Na Fianna Éireann and the Irish Revolution- 1909 to 1923
  • Marnie Hay, Bulmer Hobson and the Nationalist Movement in Twentieth Century Ireland
  • J. Anthony Gaughan, Scouting in Ireland
  • Wolfe Tone Annual, 1962 by Briain O'hUiginn
  • Fianna Éireann Handbooks, 1913, 1924, 1964

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Witness Statement of Bulmer Hobson to the Bureau of Military History, 1948
  2. ^ Talk History radio programme, Newstalk Radio, 18 August 2009
  3. ^ Witness Statement of Eamon Martin
  4. ^ Kevin Myers, Pity those poor children, 29 January 2008, Independent.ie, accessed 17 April 2012
  5. ^ "War News" No. 37, 3 December 1922