Kilkenny Civil War

IRA Volunteer John Phelan was executed in Kilkenny Military Barracks during the Civil War

100th Anniversary calendar launch

The official launch of the Kilkenny Civil War Calendar will take place in the Club House Hotel on Tuesday 29th November at 8 p.m. The calendar will be launched by renowned Kilkenny historian Jim Maher with a presentation by calendar author Jim Hayes. The launch is free and open to the public, all are welcome to attend.

The Kilkenny Civil War 100th Anniversary Calendar is an informative document detailing a number of events that took place in and around Kilkenny during the tragic Civil War period. It includes some great stories and pictures of local IRA volunteers who lost their lives during this tragic period of our history. It also includes photos and stories of local women of Cumann Na mBann from this period. The calendar was produced by Kilkenny man Jim Hayes and was hailed by Kilkenny historian Jim Maher as a very fine publication. It is for sale in all Kilkenny City book shops and in many other outlets across the county. It is selling very well even before the launch due to its local historic significance.

The Civil War in Ireland began on June 28th 1922 and ended on the 24th of May 1923. This conflict arose between Irish Nationalists over the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. The Calendar covers large parts of the Civil War in Kilkenny City and County. It is a great source of local historical information for any Kilkenny home or classroom.

Events that led to Civil War in Ireland:

In July 1921, a truce was arranged between British and Irish republican forces in the War of Independence (1919-1921) and negotiations were opened. The treaty was debated in Hans Place in London and signed on 6th December 1921 by the British Government including Winston Churchill and the then Prime Minister David Lloyd George and by representatives of the Irish Republic; including Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith, founder of Sinn Féin. The contents of the Treaty divided the Irish Republic’s leadership, with Eamon de Valera leading the Anti-Treaty minority.

The Treaty gave the 26 southern counties of Ireland – now the Irish Free State – a degree of independence. The British military were to be withdrawn and the Royal Irish Constabulary disbanded. However the settlement dissolved the Republic declared in 1916 and pledged Irish TDs or members of parliament to swear allegiance to the British monarch. The British retained three naval bases along the Irish coast at Cobh, Bearhaven and Lough Swilly. It also confirmed the partition of Ireland between North and South.

The Dáil ratified the treaty in January 1922 by a vote of 64 to 57. De Valera resigned as president of Dail Eireann and was replaced by Arthur Griffith on a vote of 60 to 58. The narrow division in both ballots led in part to the split on both sides over the treaty and ultimately led to the Irish Civil War (1922-1923).

Known in Gaeilge as “Cogadh na gCarad”, (war of friends), the eleven month conflict resulted in an estimated 1,500 deaths and left Ireland in a state of affairs that would mark Irish politics to the present day.

Just one of the many stories from the calendar:

Executed In Kilkenny Military Barricks

Anti-Treaty republican soldiers John Murphy aged 22 from Bennettsbridge, and John Phelan a married man with three young children from Thomastown, were involved in a raid for arms on the home of British Lieutenant Colonel Shee at Sheetown House near Bennetsbridge. Shee later reported the raid.

In follow up raids by Free State forces on Anti-Treaty members John Phelan and John Murphy were arrested and taken to Kilkenny Military Barracks.

After a court martial hearing both men were found guilty of the raid and of being in possession of arms and ammunition. They were sentenced to death by firing squad. The sentence was carried out at 8am on the 29th of December 1922 in the exercise yard of Kilkenny military barracks. They were the first executions to take place outside of Dublin or the Pale. Their bodies were buried the grounds of the military barracks.


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