Tom Hales (Irish republican)

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Thomas "Tom" Hales (5 March 1892 – 29 April 1966) was an Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteer and politician from West Cork. He was a friend of Michael Collins.

Born at Knocknacurra, Ballinadee, near Bandon on a family farm owned by his father Robert who was an activist in the Land War and a reputed member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

Tom Hales and his brothers, Sean, Bob and William, fought with the IRA in west Cork during the Irish War of Independence. A fifth brother, Donal, settled in Genoa from 1913, was appointed Irish Consular and Commercial Agent for Italy in February 1919. In this capacity he played a leading propaganda role; several letters from Michael Colllins to Donal Hales still exist which were used by Hales to promote international awareness in Italian publications.[1] Donal oversaw a failed attempt to import a substantial amount of weapons and ammunition (captured Austrian stock from the World War I) from Genoa in the spring of 1921.[2] During the War, Tom was captured by the British Army in Cork and was badly beaten and tortured in an effort to make him disclose the whereabouts of prominent IRA figures, including Michael Collins. He never broke, though his co-accused, Patrick Harte suffered brain damage and died in hospital insane. The torture of Hales and Harte is believed to have influenced a scene in the film The Wind That Shakes the Barley in which an IRA officer's fingernails are pulled out.[3]

During the Irish Civil War the Hales brothers fought on opposite sides. Tom Hales commanded the Flying Column which attacked the Free State Army convoy at Béal na Bláth which resulted in the death of his friend, Michael Collins. Shortly thereafter, Sean Hales was shot to death under controversial circumstances connected with the bitter Civil War.[4] [5]

Hales was elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála (TD) for the Cork West constituency at the 1933 general election, but failed to retain his seat as an independent candidate at the 1937 general election.[6] He also unsuccessfully contested the 1944 general election as an independent candidate and the 1948 general election as a candidate for Clann na Poblachta.[7] Hales died in 1966.


  1. ^ Bureau of Military History, WS 292 (Donal Hales), p. 2
  2. ^ Mark Phelan, 'Prophet of the Oppressed Nations: Gabriele D'Annunzio and the Irish Republic, 1919-21', History Ireland, vol. 21, no, 5 (September 2013)
  3. ^ Misleading RTE documentary on 'The Wind that Shakes the Barley' - Indymedia Ireland
  4. ^ Feehan, John M. "The Shooting of Michael Collins: Murder or Accident?" Cork, Mercier Press 1981
  5. ^ Coogan, T. P. "Michael Collins" Random House 1990
  6. ^ "Mr. Thomas Hales". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  7. ^ "Thomas Hales". Retrieved 9 July 2011. 


  • Peter Hart, The I.R.A.& its enemies, violence and community in Cork 1916-1923, Oxford University Press, (1998), pages 187-201, "The Rise and Fall of a Revolutionary Family".
  • Donal Hales, 'Witness Statement', Bureau of Military History (Dublin)