Michael Joe Costello

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Michael Joseph Costello (4 July 1904 – 20 October 1986) was an Irish military leader.


Costello was born on 4 July 1904 in Cloughjordan, County Tipperary. His godfather was Thomas MacDonagh, who signed the Proclamation of the Irish Republic in 1916. Costello became involved in the Irish War of Independence of 1919-1921, after seeing his father, a school teacher, arrested by the Black and Tans.

Costello joined the Irish National Army in 1922 and fought in the Irish Civil War of 1922-1923. Michael Collins promoted him to Colonel-Commandant when Costello was 18 years old. He served as National Army Director of Intelligence from 1924 to 1926. He attended the US Army's Command and Staff College at Fort Leavenworth from 1926 to 1927. Based on his performance there, he was recommended for the US Army War College. In a series of articles in the Irish military journal An t-Oglach, Costello predicted the advent of blitzkrieg warfare. He was appointed Director of Training in 1931 and Commandant of Irish Military College in 1933.

During The Emergency, he commanded the Irish Army's First Division, which was primarily responsible for the defence of the south coast of Ireland. The division, a volunteer force, had able personnel, but was poorly equipped. In Costello's words, "Given the inadequate armament and signal equipment of the Forces, training concentrated on attaining superiority over a potential invader in night operations with small forces expected to yield capture of enemy arms and ammunition, in cross country mobility and in marksmanship and the use of mines and explosives generally. The platoons made silent advances during dark nights over difficult and unknown country."[citation needed] In 1944, one of Costello's units carried out a 44-mile (71-km) march carrying 40-pound (18-kg) packs in 11 hours. This feat was later deemed a "world record" for such a march in peacetime.

Costello was promoted to Major General in 1941 and to Lieutenant General in 1945. He retired from the Army in 1946, after which he became the Managing Director of the Irish Sugar Company. He died on 20 October 1986.

External links[edit]


  • An Cosantoir, Irish Defence Journal www.dfmagazine.ie
  • John P Duggan, A History of the Irish Army, 1991
  • Eunan O'Halpin, Defending Ireland, Oxford University Press, 1999
  • Guinness Book of Records
  • An t-Oglach, 1928-1930