ROINN COSANTA

BUREAU OF MILITARY HISTORY, 1913-21

STATEMENT BY WITNESS: DOCUMENT NO. W.S. 1715. Witness Comdt. General Seán Boylan, Edenmore, Dunboyne, Co. Meath.

Identity. O/C Meath Brigade; O/C 1st Eastern Division. Subject. I.R.A. activities, Meath Brigade, 1917-1921. Conditions, if any, Stipulated by Witness. Nil.

 

....... The meeting for the appointment of a brigade staff was held at Dunderry, Navan. This brigade became known as the Meath Brigade and it comprised six battalions as follows:

Dunboyne or 1st; Trim or 2nd; Delvin or 3rd; Kells or 4th; Oldcastle or 5th; Navan or 6th.

The brigade staff elected were as hereunder: O/C. Sean Boylan; Vice O/C. Sean Hayes; Adjutant, Seamus Finn; Quartermaster, Seamus O'Higgins; Engineer, Eamon Cullen.

The officers previously elected for each of the six battalions present at the meeting were:- 1st Dunboyne Battalion: O/C. Barney Dunne; Vice O/C. - Frank Carolan; Adjutant - David Hall; Q.M. - W. O'Toole; I.O. - Bernard O'Reilly; Transport - James Maguire.

2nd Trim Battalion: O/C. Michael Hynes; Vice O/C. - Paddy Mooney; Adjutant - John O'Higgins; Q.M. - Patrick Dignam; I.O. - Transport –. 3rd Delvin Battalion: O/C. Michael Fox; Vice O/C. - Patrick Corrigan; Adjutant - Larry Ginnell; Q.M. - Patrick Carthy; I.O. - Engineers - Joseph Martin.

4th Kells Battalion: O/C. Patrick Farrelly; Vice O/C. - Thomas Reilly; Adjutant - M. Cahill; Q.M. - Michael Govern; I.O. - Engineers - 5th Oldcastle Battalion: O/C. Seamus Cogan; Vice O/C. - Sean Farrelly; Adjutant - Peter Connell; Q.M. - Phil Tevlin; I.O. - Patrick McDonnell; Engineers - Matt Tevlin.

6th Navan Battalion: O/C. Patrick Loughran; Vice O/C. - Arthur Levins; Adjutant - Kieran O'Connell; Q.M. - I.O. - Engineers: Joe Hughes.

In July of 1918, a by-election took place in East Cavan for which Arthur Griffith, the Sinn Fein candidate, was nominated. On my instructions, the Volunteers in North Meath went to the East Cavan area where they canvassed and worked for the success of Arthur Griffith. In several instances the Volunteers had to protect the speakers on behalf of Arthur Griffith from very hostile mobs composed of Hibernians who were the main support of the nationalist candidates and Orangemen, and members of the Ulster, or Carson, Volunteers, who all continued to break up or prohibit Siin Féin meetings. At the General Election in December 1918, all Volunteers in the county took an active part in the campaign, such as canvassing and supplying personation agents and policing the polling booths on the day of the election. Our candidate, Eamon Duggan, was elected for South Meath, and Liam Mellows was elected for North Meath. By January 1919, several members of the Volunteers had been arrested throughout the country on a pretext known as "The German Plot".

 

In the months of September and October 1919, special meetings of the Brigade staff were held to formulate plans for attacks on R.I.C. barracks situated in the area. By the end of October, plans were ready to attack the barracks at Ballivor, Bohermeen, Summerhill, and Lismullen or Dillon's Bridge. The attack on Ballivor took place on 31st October. Captain Patrick Mooney of Trim was in charge of this attack. He was assisted by Volunteers from the battalion area. They were armed with shotguns and a couple of revolvers. Captain Mooney and a couple of his men approached the front door and knocked. When it was opened, Mooney and those Volunteers behind him rushed the building. One R.I.C. man was shot dead in the melee, after which the garrison surrendered. All rifles and revolvers were seized and taken away. A few nights later, a similar ruse to gain admission to Lismullen or Dillon's Bridge barracks failed. The attacking party, which was drawn from the Navan Battalion area, then opened fire from all sides. The garrison replied with rifle fire. After a period of about half an hour, the attackers withdrew. Their arms consisted of shotguns only. The attacks planned for Bohermeen and Summerhill did not take place, due to a misunderstanding as to the time and place certain officers were to be met. Between November 1919, and Easter Sunday 1920, Ballivor, Summerhill, Bohermeen, Lismullen, George' Cross, Mullagh, Moynalty, Drumcondra, Crossakiel, Carnaross, Stirrupstown, Drumconrath and about ten other R.I.C. barracks were evacuated and the garrisons transferred into the larger towns such as Navan, Trim, Kells and Oldcastle. On instructions from G.H.Q. all of those barracks were burned down after they were evacuated. The burnings were carried out by the local company or battalion officers. In the early autumn of 1920, on instructions from G.H.Q., I had all arms in civilian hands collected throughout the brigade area. In most cases the arms were surrendered voluntarily, but in other cases the Volunteers collecting the arms were met with armed opposition.

Riocht na Midhe 2015; Page 279.

Tragedy in Oldcastle- The Death of Commdt. Seamus Cogan, 22 July 1920.

John F. Cogan.