Frank O'Beirne

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Francis "Frank" O'Beirne (1898 – 7 February 1978)[1][2] was a farmer, businessman, Irish republican activist and Fianna Fáil politician in County Sligo.[2] He served briefly in Seanad Éireann.[1]

War of Independence[edit]

O'Beirne grew up in Collooney, and was an early supporter of Sinn Féin. He was arrested in February 1918 for unlawful assembly relating to commandeering of land for "conacre".[3] He refused to post bail and was sentenced to six months' imprisonment.[3] In February 1919, he was arrested for illegal fundraising in Collooney, again refused to post bail, and served three months.[4] In June, he organised an aeraíocht (outdoor cultural festival) in Collooney.[5]

The Irish War of Independence was escalating, and O'Beirne was Officer Commanding of the Collooney Battalion of the Irish Republican Army (the "Old IRA").[6] After the local elections of May 1920, O'Beirne was chairman of Sligo rural district council (RDC), leading the council to accept the authority of the First Dáil.[7][8] As RDC chairman, he was ex officio a member of County Sligo county council, which passed a similar resolution when it met in June.[9][10] When Major Bryan Cooper refused to pay the "IRA rates", O'Beirne took two bullocks in lieu.[11] On 26 June, he helped to spring Frank Carty from Sligo Gaol.[12] In July, he was an adjudicator at the Dáil Courts which sat at Sooey Creamery and later at Sligo Courthouse.[13]

O'Beirne sometimes used Major Heather's Knockadoo House near Coolaney as a safehouse.[14] He led a raid on the British Army barracks in Carrick-on-Shannon.[15] He did not participate in a raid on Collooney RIC barracks in March 1921 as he was sick.[16] He was captured on 27 May 1921[17] and court-martialled for involvement in the killing of RIC constables in Ballisodare, but escaped from Sligo Gaol in June 1921 before sentence could be passed.[10][18]

Anti-treaty activity[edit]

O'Beirne was a close friend of Éamon de Valera, and took the anti-Treaty side in the Irish Civil War.[2] His Collooney Battalion was now part of the "Irregulars", and he was taken prisoner along with forty men after the Irish Free State Army launched a surprise attack on the town.[19]

In a 1925 by-election two vacancies in the Leitrim–Sligo constituency were to be filled; O'Beirne stood for Sinn Féin along with Samuel Holt. Holt received slightly more first preferences than O'Beirne and was elected with his transfers, along with Martin Roddy of Cumann na nGaedheal.[20] In his concession speech, O'Beirne said there were "two things he held narrow views on; one was pride in his Catholic Faith, and the other was his pride in his Irish Nationality. [...] priests and bishops [...] were not infallible as far as politics were concerned."[21]

The following November, O'Beirne was one of two men convicted in the Central Criminal Court for 'being concerned in the organisation of an illegal organisation "The Irish Republican Army"'.[22] The jury suggested the men should not be treated as criminals, while the judge said their crime was treason, punishable by death.[22] In the event, a 12-month sentence was imposed.[23]

Fianna Fáil[edit]

O'Beirne spent time in the United States, acting as an agent for the Irish Sweepstakes.[2] He returned to Ireland in the 1930s, working as a farmer and businessman, and was active in Fianna Fáil's industrial policy promoted by Seán Lemass.[2] He was elected to the Seanad in 1943 on the Industrial and Commercial Panel, but was defeated in the 1944 Seanad election,[1] having also failed to be elected to the Dáil for Sligo in the general election.[20]

O'Beirne was director of several companies,[2] including Meat Exporters (Sligo) Ltd,[24] and Flemings Fireclays.[25] He was a founding director of the Sligo Industrial Development Corporation in 1953.[26] In 1955, he bought from Major Clarence H. Hillas "Sea View", a country house previously owned by the Atkinson family,[27] near the Sligo–Ballina road at Doonecoy, Templeboy.[2][28] He was a member of the Racing Board from 1965–70.[29][30][31] He was killed in a car crash on the N7 near Kill, County Kildare, aged 81.[2] His wife Kathleen had died in 1969.[2][32]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Mr. Frank O'Beirne". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 21 June 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Ex-senator killed in car crash". The Irish Times. 8 February 1978. p. 8. Retrieved 21 June 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Farry (1992), p. 118
  4. ^ Farry (1992), p. 159
  5. ^ Farry (1992), p.169
  6. ^ Farry (1992), p.177
  7. ^ Farry (1992), pp. 201, 206
  8. ^ "Irish Local Government Elections : new provincial council chairmen". The Irish Times. 19 June 1920. p. 2. Retrieved 22 June 2009. 
  9. ^ Farry (1992), p. 246
  10. ^ a b "Daring affair at Sligo : Prisoners taken from the jail". The Irish Times. 30 June 1921. p. 5. Retrieved 22 June 2009. 
  11. ^ Farry (1992), p.206
  12. ^ Farry (1992), p. 226
  13. ^ Farry (1992), p. 219
  14. ^ Farry (1992), p. 268
  15. ^ "Drumshanbo: death of Mr M. Mahon". Leitrim Observer. 10 April 1976. p. 8. 
  16. ^ Farry (1992), p. 281
  17. ^ Farry (1992), p.300
  18. ^ Farry (1992), p.304
  19. ^ Farry, Michael (2000). The aftermath of revolution : Sligo, 1921–23. Dublin: University College Dublin Press. p. 78. ISBN 1-900621-38-X. 
  20. ^ a b "Frank O'Beirne". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 22 June 2009. 
  21. ^ "Rejoicing over the victory ; speeches at Carrick-on-Shannon". Leitrim Observer. 21 March 1925. p. 3. 
  22. ^ a b "Jury's suggestion in Sligo case". Leitrim Observer. 7 November 1925. p. 4. 
  23. ^ "Sent to jail: Sentences under the Treason Act". Leitrim Observer. 14 November 1925. p. 1. 
  24. ^ "Tendency to shirk work criticised; Opening of meat factory". The Irish Times. 11 December 1953. p. 7. Retrieved 21 June 2009. 
  25. ^ "(Personal Ads) As a mark of repect to out late director Frank O'Beirne". The Irish Times. 9 February 1978. p. 24. Retrieved 22 June 2009. 
  26. ^ "Chamber History". Official website. Sligo Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 22 June 2009. [dead link]
  27. ^ Hanson, Helen May (1996). The Atkinson family from County Sligo, Ireland. p. 106. OCLC 34469371. 
  28. ^ "House:Seaview or Doonecoy". Landed Estates Database. NUI Galway. 3 September 2008. Retrieved 22 June 2009. 
  29. ^ "Racing Board members". The Irish Times. 23 June 1965. p. 2. Retrieved 21 June 2009. 
  30. ^ Haughey, Charles (4 March 1969). "The Racing Board". Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. – Directors of Semi-State Bodies. Dáil Éireann debates 238. Oireachtas. cols 2093–4. 
  31. ^ Colley, George (29 October 1970). Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. – Directorships of State Sponsored Bodies. Dáil Éireann debates 249. Oireachtas. col 335. 
  32. ^ "Mrs K. O'Beirne". Irish Independent. 27 May 1969. p. 12.