Fianna History


Some time in 1910 or thereabouts, Tomas MacCurtain invited Countess Markievicz to Cork to organize a Sluagh of the Fianna in the city. The meeting took place in the city hall. Tomas MacCurtain, SeŠn ” Cuill, Bob Langford, and Tadhg Barry, were among those who attended the initial meeting. After Madame had outlined the aims and objects of the organization, it was decided to organize a Sluagh in the city and later to set up Sluaite in the county.

Progress was slow at the start, but in 1912 a large number of Baden Powell Scouts left the British organization and joined the Fianna, and from then onwards the Fianna in Cork began to grow steadily. Estimated strength in the city from 1913 to 1914 - 30 to 40; 1914 - 40 to 50; 1915 - 60 to 80; 1916 - 80 to 100.

The Sluaite consisted of nine Fiannaidhe, eight boys and a Sluagh leader. The boys wore a plain green shirt and officers a double breasted tunic. After 1916, all wore the double breasted tunic. The I/C of the Fianna in Cork had the title of Scoutmaster up to the Munster Convention in 1915, which was held at Limerick . At the Convention it was decided to replace the title of Scoutmaster with the military rank of captain. Sťamus Courtney of Cork was appointed O/C of Munster and he appointed SeŠn Healy O/C of Cork City and County.

The following were the officers commanding the county: Walter Furlong, a few months at the start; Christy Monahan, 1912 to 1913; Liam O'Callaghan, 1913 to 1914; Seamus Courtney, 1914 to 1915; SeŠn Healy, 1915 to 1918.

From 1914 to 1916, SeŠn Healy and Sťamus Courtney organized a great many areas in the county, including Blarney , Clogheen, Cobh , Riverstown, Douglas , Blackrock and Youghal. In other areas the Fianna were pioneers in building up the volunteers.

Tadhg O'Sullivan succeeded SeŠn Healy as O/C of Cork , when SeŠn joined the Volunteers. He was succeeded by Frank McMahon. Tadhg was killed by Crown forces in Douglas St , Cork in May 1921. Seamus Courtney was arrested in 1917 and lodged in Cork jail where he went on hunger strike. This undermined his health and on his release his health broke down completely and he died. He was buried at Passage with full military honors. In 1921, the Fianna were re-organized into Battalions and Brigades along the same lines as the Volunteers. The O/C of the Cork First Brigade was Frank McMahon, who became Chief of Staff of the Fianna in 1922.

The Fianna mobilized for the Easter Rising, but were demobilized due to Eoin McNeill's countermanding order. The Fianna had its own active service unit in each Battalion area. The work of the Active Service Units consisted mostly of raids on Belfast Boycott goods, food supplies for the British Army and RIC, the burning of British newspapers, post office mails and small cars, and raids for bicycles.

In 1920, Patrick Hanley was murdered by RIC in a series of murders in the Grattan Street area of Cork on the night of November 27 in reprisal for the shooting of an RIC sergeant.  Hanley's remains were laid out in his Fianna uniform, in the mortuary of the Mercy Hospital . The body was later removed to the church of SS Peter & Paul.  He was buried in St Finbarr's Cemetery, the Tricolor-draped coffin being shouldered all the way to the cemetery by the dead boy's comrades. A volley was fired over the grave and the Last Post was sounded by the Fianna buglers. A short oration was delivered by a Fianna officer, who exhorted the boys to be inspired by the work of Patrick Hanley and to carry carefully the burning torch of freedom.

After the truce, when the Volunteers took over the barracks from the British, many members of the Fianna garrisoned them. During the Civil War, many members of the Cork City Fianna were on active service in areas such as Limerick Waterford, Kilmallock, Dungarvan and Passage.

After the evacuation of Cork City by the Republicans, Fianna was completely disorganized for several months. Some groups remained active in the Second Battalion area, under Frank Nolan. At a later stage, a unit was formed in the Blackpool area, and this unit became the Fianna Active Service Unit in Cork .

Adapted from the website