DOC Series: Kerry I.R.A

We continue our Decade of Centenaries series by looking at the collection of Captain Daniel Mulvihill, I.R.A. County Liaison Officer in Kerry.

Captain Mulvihill’s collection consists of correspondence files with the officers of the I.R.A Battalions and Brigades throughout the county of Kerry, and with the county and district inspectors of the Royal Irish Constabulary (R.I.C). He worked in co-operation with the republican police force as an I.R.A representative in maintaining the peace. He operated from the Hibernian Hotel in Killarney from 31 October 1921 to 7 March 1922, when it closed down after the evacuation of the R.I.C. from Kerry. Correspondence covers the period from October 1921 to March 1922, during which time the Truce entered upon by the I.R.A and the British forces on 9 July 1921, was in operation. His responsibilities as liaison officer were to receive enquiries and investigate reports from the I.R.A Brigade Officers and the inspectors of the R.I.C. while working in constant contact with the Chief Liaison Officer, J.E. Dalton in the Gresham Hotel, Dublin, the general headquarters of Oglaigh na h-Eireann.

The collection contains correspondence relating to raids on trains, at good stores of the Great Southern and Western Railways, in the Kerry area, mail vans and postmen. They include statements from witnesses. Also contains allegations of breaches of the Truce on the part of both the I.R.A and the government forces. The crimes reported include kidnappings by the I.R.A., attacks on the R.I.C., acts of aggression against the I.R.A., the civilian population and the Irish Republican Police. The letters above and below refer to an attack on Patrick O’Driscoll’s business premises in Valentia on 13 December 1921 by a group of British Crown Forces Marines. The marines kicked the door in, smashed the windows and called those inside ‘Ye pack of cowardly Irish dogs’.

Under the Divisional Order A1 and A2, the I.R.A were given authority to take possession of any form of transport available in each area: cars, bicycles and horses, with the intention of returning them after the troubles. These intentions were not always fulfilled and a lot of the letters received were from civilians looking for the return of their property, and in some cases compensation. Among the requests were claims for compensation for damage caused to property during the I.R.A. commandeering of private houses for training camps, prior to the Truce. Donal O Maoilimicil wrote to Mulivihill hoping to have his bike and his brother’s returned or receive £14 compensation for each one taken by the Tullamore Company of Volunteers. He also complains about the unchivalrous behavious of the ‘masked and armed men’ the night his bike was taken.

Another interesting letter was written by a Mrs. M.A. McInereny. She is not looking to report an attack, seek the return of a bike or claim compensation. Instead she is asking if Commandant Harry O’Mahony, stationed in Castleisland, would have any information on the whereabouts of her son, J.A. McInerney. He is being held in Spike Island and as O’Mahony had recently escaped from Spike Island maybe he could help her. Also included in the collection is a photograph of a young man, obviously torn from the original. There is no means of identifying him; but he just may be Captain Mulvihill himself.

The collection is very informative, particularly the files on the raids and the breaches of the Truce. They provide invaluable insight into the emotions and violence that prevailed during this period and into the tense relations between the I.R.A and the government forces. There is also evidence of the conflict that existed between both sides over the issue of the republican courts, which operated prior to the Truce and continued to operate thereafter.

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