Story of Volunteer Richard Coleman
Richard Coleman was born in Swords Co Dublin in 1890 , he came from a family of
eleven most of whom were active in the Gaelic League. He began his education in Swords National school from there he continued
his education with the Christian Brothers secondary school on North Richmond Road known as O'Connell's. From an early age
Richard had a great interest in religion because his father acted as a church sacristan and on many occasions Richard was
called upon as an alter boy. Perhaps this is what fuelled his ambition to become a priest and do missionary work in the tradition
of St Colmcille who founded the town of Swords . When Richard finished his studies with the Christian Brother `s he was disappointed
not to get sponsorship from the clergy to join the priesthood. Shortly afterwards Richard started work as a railway clerk
and was posted to Galway. At the age of nineteen he was influenced by the local A.O.H movement. I lis patriotic feelings stirred,
he left the A.O.H and joined Sinn Fein. Partly due to political differences with The Redmondites, he left his job after two
year and returned to Dublin and joined the Christian Brothers.
Richard persevered for four years but in the end decided
to leave early after being asked to sign a statement saying that lie would not try lirr the priesthood. Richard returned to
work for the railway as a clerk awl was posted to Cavan. Richard could not take to this way of ilk, lie then returned to Dublin
to take up employment as an nik+rulnnl in a Jesuit College in Milltown and later in St. Vincent's in Phihxhrn uugl,. His family
disapproved of these jobs saying his education and inlelli gence could be put to better use. Finally Richard went to work
lot thew Prudential Insurance company as an agent in Swords. I.lving and working at home suited Richards activities . In April
Ir)14 1 loins Mt Donagh came to Swords and enrolled Richard and litany iillwis to form a company of volunteers which quickly
rxhr itksl to ninety members. The volunteers met regularly in the National School Ire Swords for training and drilling. They
were trained by an ex-British Army sergeant from Dublin. August 1914 saw the outbreak of war in Europe which caused
a split in the group in Swords.
John Redmond believing they should help the British Army in a war. This ideal did not go down well with any Irishman
wanting to be free of British Rule. A meeting was called in Swords and there where was a split— Sinn Fein supporters
and the Redmondites. During the meeting seventy five of the Swords members went with Redmond to enlist in the British Army.
The remaining members of the group elected Richard Coleman as their Captain . They were Frank Lawless, Edmund,Colm and Joe
Lawless , Thomas Duff, Pat Early, Christopher Nugent, James Marks, Thomas ,Joe and Christopher Taylor ,Peter and John Kelly,
Joe and William Norton , Peter and James Wilson (Peter Wilson was killed in Mendicity) James and John Crenigan (John was Killed
in action at Ashbourne). The group was attached to the Dublin Brigade and were known as the fifth battalion It can be seen
why Richard was elected Captain, his good education and his intelligence as an insurance agent gave him contact with a wide
range of people/contacts which helped in his role as leader.
The Fingal Battalion were ready to mobilise
on Easter Sunday 1916. They paraded at Saucerstown, each man bringing two days rations. All the men were allowed home that
night. On the Easter Monday the men mobilised at Knockshedan Bridge which is located at the back of Swords Village near Dublin
Airport. Here the men of Swords joined up with the men of Lusk. Captain Coleman paraded the sixty-five men for inspection
and found one shouldering the cocked rifle. To demonstrate the danger of this , Coleman pressed the trigger and the rifle
went off. The men later commented that it was "the first shot" fired by the battalion in the rising.
They moved off at
mid-day under the command of Thomas Ashe , towards Finglas . The convoy consisted of one motor car driven by Dr Dick Hayes,
one motor bike and one horse and cart. The battalion took up position at a farm for the night where the Premier Dairies was
later located and is now a development of Apartments called Premier Place. That night on James Connolly's instructions, Coleman
was sent with twenty men towards Blanchardstown to create a disturbance—to try and distract some of the military forces
Dick Mulcahy took command of the rear column . On nearing Blanchardstown a loud explosion was heard. This they considered
, was sufficient distraction in the circumstances and so they returned without taking any further action.
At 10a.m on the
Tuesday, Ashe received instructions from Connolly to send forty men into Dublin . However Ashe decided to send only half that
number. On having selected the men he sent Coleman into the city in charge of them. Captain Coleman, one of the few wearing
uniform, entered the G.P.O with his men and reported to Connolly . They were given a meal and Father Sheehan asked if the
men had been to confession. He was assured that Father Toher of Lusk had heard the men's confession.
James Connolly selected
six strong men from the group to tunnel through the walls of the G.P.O .These men became the engineering corp of the Rebellion.
They were John Kelly, Patrick Caddie, Jack Hayes, Edward Lawless, Dan Trophy and John Mc Neill. Connolly made sure the other
fourteen men were well armed. He issued them with two grenades and directed a young man called McLaughlin to lead Captain
Coleman and his men to the Mendicity Institute. Connolly's last words to the men were: "I don't think you will get there ,
but get as far as you can". Peter Wilson described how the group eluded enemy fire and reached the Institute without loss.
They advanced up Abbey Street to Capel Street where they were fired upon from Parliament Street, dashing across the street
one by one, they went into Marys Lane where they were confronted by a barricade. They continued on over the barricade into
Smithfield, crossing another barricade at Church Street.
At Bowe street , they crossed the Liffey and came back along the
south quays as far as Bridgefoot Street. Knowing the military were stationed at Christchurch , they took the back lanes and
crossed into the Mendicity Institute. Coleman reported to Sean Heuston , and handed over a drunken British solider which they
had captured on the last stage of their journey. Sean Heuston occupied the Mendicity Institute with thirteen men on Easter
Monday morning to block any advance made by British troops. Shortly after noon a force of four hindered men advance along
the north quays but were driven back to the nearby barracks. The welcome reinforcement from the Fingal
Fingal brigade joined this group on Tuesday, for now the buildings were under heavy fire. On Wednesday they heard houses
at the rear of the Institute being bored and they knew that their line of escape at the rear was gone. Their attackers crept
along the quay under cover of the front garden wall and threw grenades through the windows. One man was killed instantly.
With mortar fire striking the building and crossed into a piggery at the rear which gave access to a nearby street and an
opportunity to show a white flag . It was here that Peter Wi Ison of Swords was killed by a bullet through the head.
garrison under Sean Heuston together with others were rounded up at the Rotunda Hospital for identification and then marched
to Richmond barracks to be court marshalled that day and sent to Kilmainham Jail. Richard Coleman was sentenced to death but
the sentence was later commuted to penal servitude. The volunteers were shipped to Dartmoor England where Richard was put
in solitary confinement. Then the prisoners were divided and Richard was sent to Lewes prison in Kent. All the prisoners were
released in June 1917, they received a 100 pound grant from National Aid Fund in America.'I'hey all gave their money to start
the New Ireland Friendly Society. With 0 Reilly and Thornton, Richard was on the board of directors. He was appointed a trustee
and got a salary as a superintend ant.
During the election campaign for Eamon De Valera for County Clare , Richard Coleman
travelled to Ennis where volunteers appeared in uniform I'or the first time since the insurrection. Richard paraded and addressed
a group of Clare volunteers and was arrested for drilling and sent to Mountjoy for six months. Here he took part in the famous
hunger strike in which Thomas Ashe gave his life. The death of I'hoinas Ashe caused such a public protest that the prisoners
were moved from the Mountjoy. Richard was sent to Cork and later transferred to Dundalk gaol. At Dundalk they started another
hunger strike and were released . In the Spring of 1918 after only a brief period out of prison, Richard and all the leaders
of Sinn Fein were re- arrested in connection with an alleged `German Plot' charge.
On the 17th May 1918 the prisoners were gathered at Dublin Castle and Coleman was sent to Usk Prison in Wales. This was
a time for Sinn Fein to prepare for the general elections that came in 7 months afterwards, a result which saw forty three
of the men in prison elected . But for Richard it was a time to face death. An epidemic of influenza broke out in the prison
in November and Richard and a number of his POW's, weakened by confinement became easy victims of the germ. Yet, they received
no medical attention and were left in their cells. Dr Morton , as assistant medical officer , took up duty in the prison on
the I st of December 1918 diagnosed that Coleman had pneumonia. He was removed to hospital the next day but died on the 7th
December 1918 before his family could see him.
Remembering the result of the verdict on Thomas Ashes death, the Home Office
instructed the prison Governor to refuse to grant a formal inquest. Richard's brother arrived in Usk but was refused. His
brother claimed that he was strong and healthy at the time of his arrest while three of his fellow prisoners gave evidence
that poor prison conditions and improper nursing had contributed to his death.
Richards remains were released to his brother
and brought back to Dublin. Over 15,000 mourners followed the funeral procession and many more lined the route, while tri
colours draped in black ribbon were displayed everywhere. A firing party of six volunteers defied Government regulations and
police, fired three volleys of shots over the grave of the patriot. So great was the crowd that the strong police force declined
to seize the arms. Richard's sad end was final stroke for victory. Sinn Fein referred to this tragedy in their election posters.
The landslide election of the Sinn Fein candidates followed . The country was behind them an object of the rising had been
Battle Of Ashbourne Fingal Battalion 1916
List of men and women who took part in The Battle Of Ashbourne 1916. The list is compiled by Christopher Lee.
Commandant Thomas Ashe
Crenigan, known as Jack, aged 21.
Killed in Action. Was employed
by the Dublin Tram Company.
Dr Richard Hayes
He had been the Officer Commanding
resigned in favour of Ashe. Became a
TD (Teachta Dála Member of the
Paddy Houlihan or Holohan
Frank Lawless, Quarter-Master later
became a TD.
Jim Lawless Captain.
Richard Mulcahy, Vice-Commandant.
Initially posted at the G.P.O.
Connolly sent him to Howth to cut the
undersea telephone wires between
Dublin and London, unable to return
to Dublin he went to Ashbourne
where Ashe appointed him
Vice-Commandant. He succeeded
as Commander in Chief of the
Free State Army.
Edward Rooney Captain
Three women also took part in the
battle acting as messengers and
attending the wounded.
Molly Adrian, messenger.
The song below was written by
Martin Dardis and uses the chorus
which was taken from a poem by
Thomas Ashe ''Let Me Carry Your
Cross For Ireland'' , the tune used
for the song is The Rising Of The Moon.
[C]Let me carry your cross for Ireland Lord
For my cares in this[G] world are few
And[F] few are the tears that will[C] fall for me
When I[G] go on my way to[C] you
[C]From that meeting place at Knocksedan
To Ashborne[G] Town did march
Tom[F] Ashe and his[C] gallant band
True[G] patriots every[C] man
They[C] placed the green above the red
As they bravely[G] made their[C] way
Pre[F]pared to make that am[C]bush
It's for Ireland's[G] cause we[C] say
He was captured and transported
To an English jail to stay
Far from his home in Kinard
He vowed to make them pay
With his fellow freedom fighters
He struggled for the way
To light the torch of freedom
And bring forth Erin's day.
So another son of Ireland
In the fight for liberty
Is gone but not forgotten
Goes down in history
Tom Ashe and his gallant band
True patriots every man
They placed the green above the red
As they bravely made their stand
Members Of The Fingal Battalion I.R.A. After 1916
List of members of The Fingal Battalion post 1916 rising. The list of members is what I have been able to collect
so far. If you have additional information you would like to share then please contact me. Email Address below.
Thomas Markey, Commandant Fingal Brigade;
Christopher Moran; member Fingal Brigade;
Captain, Officer IV and IRA, Fingal Brigade;
Michael McAllister, member IV and IRA, Fingal Brigade;
Intelligence Officer, Fingal Brigade
Walter Brown, Officer, IRA, Fingal;
James Crenegan, member IV Fingal; Battalion
Joseph Lawless, Member IV Fingal, Officer IRA Dublin;
Francis Brennan, Finglas;
William Wyse, Meadstown
Tommy Keenan At Battle Of Ashbourne
I was always told my grand uncle was a "runner" at the battle in Ashbourne. His name was Tommy Keenan, but they were
know as Kinnans? The family home is in Arcath, or "The Bog" as it was know to us. He served in the Irish Army for a short
time and left some time after the Truce. We believe he served some time in the Curragh in the early days. I have seen a picture
of him out of a newspaper but it is bad quality, I also have a photo at an anniversary, might be Ashbourne. I also have some
minutes of meetings about fundraising and design of the Monument. I would be grateful for any information you might have.
If anybody has any info. on Tommy Keenan please let me know