Dundalk and the Military Archives

The release of archive material from the Military Service Pensions Collection is the latest move in the opening up of the archive of the Bureau of Military History.

It will take years for historians and researchers to mine through the 300,000 files. It contains 82,000 pension applications and only 15,000 were successful.

But the military archives in general provide brilliant first-hand stories of the Easter Rising, and the War of Independence, including events that took place in Dundalk.

There are many statements made to the bureau by Dundalk and county Louth people.

Most of them were made in the late 1940s or early 1950s, as these veterans and pioneers of our fight for independence, were coming to the end of their natural lives, having survived revolution.

James McGuill, Market Square, Dundalk, gives a personal record of his time with the Louth Volunteer Corp which he had the “honour of serving during Ireland’s fight for independence”. He became Acting Brigade Commandant.

He describes events that took place in Louth during Easter 1916, including the shooting dead of an RIC constable at Castlebellingham on Easter Monday morning.

On Easter Sunday morning the transport was lined up outside Boyle O’Reilly Hall in Clanbrassil Street - one brake, three side cars and a pony and trap - but it wasn’t enough to take the 90 odd men ready to leave Dundalk and head for Dublin.

The shooting dead of the popular constable turned opinion against the very disorganised volunteers, who even thought of getting to Dublin by motor boat.

But then came the executions of the Easter Rising leaders, and the tide turned, and the rest, as they say, is history.

It is a history that has been preserved by the Bureau of Military History and is worth reading. See Page 16.


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