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William Geary (1899-2004) (Part 1)

William Geary (1899-2004) (Part 1)

Bayside, New York, USA

2004

 

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Track 1: William Geary recalls his youth, growing up on the farm in Ballyagran, and he also decribes the hiring fairs. He discusses his father's untimely death when William was eight. Track 2: He joined the Atlantic Wireless School in Cahirciveen in 1919 to train as a wireless operator under Principal Maurice Fitzgerald, and he later joined the Birmingham Shipping Line as wireless operator and travelled the world for three years. Track 3: A description of daily life on board ship. Track 4: In 1921, William returned to Ballyagran where he drilled the local Volunteers and he joined the Garda Siochána in 1922, first stationed in Kildare where, he explains, there was strong reaction among his colleagues to the fact that former RIC officers were gaining senior posts in the Gardaí. He describes his memories of being present at Dublin Castle for its formal handover by the British in 1922. He also recalls hearing in Dublin the first gunfire of the Civil War. His transfer on promotion to Clones, Co. Monaghan, and subsequently to the Phoenix Park, Dublin are recalled. Track 5: Serving in Newport, Co. Tipperary, in 1924 and later in Templemore are remembered, as is a bank robbery by the IRA in Roscrea, his arrest of the culprits and his sense that, after this, he was a marked man. He was transferred to Kilrush, Co. Clare, in 1926, where he witnessed much disturbance by an active unit of the IRA in the area, under T.J. Ryan. Track 6: He describes the experience, in 1928, of being summoned to Garda Headquarters in Dublin for a meeting with Chief Superintendent Nelligan and General O'Duffy, during which he was accused of providing information to the IRA in return for a bribe. He was subsequently dismissed from the Gardaí Siochána by the Executive Council.


Number of files: 1
File size(s): 55.30 MB
Bitrate: 128 kbps
Download time limit: 48 hours

Audio series: Witnesses to Independence
Product ID: CD1916-07
Subject: Dismissal from the Gardaí Siochána
Recorded by: Maurice O’Keeffe
Length: 60:30


William Geary (1899-2004) (Part 2)

William Geary (1899-2004) (Part 2)

Bayside, New York, USA

2004

 

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Track 1: William Geary recalls his journey to America on the SS Baltic, arriving in New York on 5 December 1928, and boarding in the Bronx with Mary Ellen Keane who had previously worked for his family. His first job was with the Edison Company, and in 1932 he joined the American Post Office as a collector of bills. Track 2: He recalls a number of people who lived in the Bronx at that time. Track 3: William married Margaret Rooskey, originally from Roscommon. He joined the American Air Force, was assigned to Administration in Nashville and later in Memphis, Tennessee. Track 4: He describes his memories of Cahirciveen in 1919 during the Troubles. He recalls the local weavers, the fishing and the wakes and he also recalls the challenge of learning Morse code in the Wireless School. Track 5: The introduction of formal uniform for the Garda Siochána in the early days is remembered. Track 6: William perused old photographs including one of himself and his family outside their family home, Cloonee Cottage, Ballyagran, taken in 1905. Track 7: He provides a description of his experiences at night school in America, where he studied for four years. Track 8: William Geary discusses the 75 long years he spent attempting to clear his name of the wrongful accusation that led to his dismissal from the Gardaí. He finally received a full pardon in 2002.


Number of files: 1
File size(s): 36.89 MB
Bitrate: 128 kbps
Download time limit: 48 hours

Audio series: Witnesses to Independence
Product ID: CD1916-08
Subject: Emigration to New York in 1928
Recorded by: Maurice O’Keeffe
Length: 40:22


William Geary (1899-2004) (Part 3)

William Geary (1899-2004) (Part 3)

Bayside, New York, USA

2004

 

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Track 1: William Geary describes the reconstruction of his family home, originally a Cromwellian officer's residence. The farming practices in Ballyagran, and the breeding and training of horses are described as is the powerful role played by the Catholic Church in society at the time. Formal arrangements and settlements for matrimony are also discussed. Track 2: Memories are described of the local creamery and butter making, the journeyman tailors, who would visit a family home for two weeks and make any clothing that was necessary. He also recalls his teacher, Daniel Quill, and the system of learning by rote. Track 3: Daily life prior to the Troubles is described, with law and order maintained by the Constabulary in the barracks at Newcastlewest. He recalls his ancestral background and his grandfather, who was born in 1815 and was a wealthy man. Track 4: Fr Hurley, the local parish priest,is recalled and the pomp and ceremony of religious observance at the time are described. His uncle, Michael Geary, who paid his tuition fees at the Atlantic Wireless School is remembered, as is the challenge of getting from his home to the school. Track 5: As a student he boarded with Miss O'Reilly in Cahirciveen and he describes his memories of people and places at this time. His colleagues, the crew members of the Birmingham City Line, and the cabin he occupied are all recalled.


Number of files: 1
File size(s): 70.94 MB
Bitrate: 128 kbps
Download time limit: 48 hours

Audio series: Witnesses to Independence
Product ID: CD1916-09
Subject: Life in a rural village
Recorded by: Maurice O’Keeffe
Length: 114:51


Michael Howard (b. 1915)

Michael Howard (b. 1915)

Tarmon, Co. Clare

2005

 

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In early April 2005, I was invited to Knockerra National School in County Clare to record local resident Michael Howard, as he spoke to the children of the school and answered their many questions on local history. Several of the children were curious about events which occured during the years 1916 to 1923 and as Michael answered their questions, I decided that I would visit his home to record his memories of those historic days in Co Clare. A few weeks later, I made my way to Tarmon, near Kilrush, where Michael lives in a cottage which has been in the Howard family for four generations - "A great IRA house" as Michael said. He was born in November 1915 and he has a clear memory of groups of men gathering regularly in his house in 1921, before and after a skirmish, and he would sit fascinated to listen to the planning and organising and the discussion of recent guerrilla activities. There was always a scout posted on the road nearby watching out for the military, but as he lived in a very quiet and rural area, the trucks could be heard to approach well in advance of their arrival. On one occasion there were thirty men in the house when the trucks were heard on the road, and there was a general scramble out the back door. Michael named out the local IRA members who were active in the area and who would frequent his house, and on three occasions the Black and Tans came to the house and put the family out in preparation for the burning of the property, but the burning never actually took place. A nearby house owned by the O'Donnell family was used by Eamon de Valera several times as a safe house, and in later years, when he was in the area, he would always pay a visit. The Kilrush Ambush of 1921 was recalled in stirring tones in a fine recitation written by Jack O'Donnell who was a first cousin of the patriot Con Colbert. I enquired of Michael if he had been acquainted with Garda Superintendent William Geary, who was stationed in Kilrush from 1926 to 1928, and who was dismissed from the Force in 1928 for allegedly taking a bribe of £100 from the IRA. Michael became quite animated at the mention of Superintendent Geary's name, and went on to tell me of several occurrences which contradict the recollections of William Geary whom I had previously recorded in the year of this death in New York in 2004. Michael's father was a personal friend of Dan Breen of the Tipperary IRA, who wrote the famous book My Fight for Irish Freedom. Dan Breen once remarked to him that if he could have foretold the way things would go "he would never have fired a shot." Michael recalled for me an extraordinary occurrence from August 1924 when Eamon de Valera came to Ennis, and was arrested and brought to Costello's house. A situation arose which came to involve the Catholic Bishop of Clare, Dr Fogarty and William T. Cosgrave in Dublin. Michael recounted a story told to him by his father, concerning events in Kilrush during the occupation of the town by the Black and Tans. Mr Howard was involved with the Volunteers and he was acquainted with a Tan in Kilrush who would tell him when a raid was due to happen and that Tan could walk around the town at 10 o'clock at night and "he wouldn't be touched - the boys knew him" Michael Howard's wonderfully clear memories of local historical events in Kilrush were a joy to record, and I made a promise to him before leaving that I would return one day soon to sit and reminisce with him once again.


Number of files: 1
File size(s): 40.82 MB
Bitrate: 128 kbps
Download time limit: 48 hours

Audio series: Witnesses to Independence
Product ID: CD1916-28
Subject:
Recorded by: Maurice O’Keeffe
Length:


Donal McSweeney (b. 1931) (part 2)

Donal McSweeney (b. 1931) (part 2)

Gortnafunshion, Ballyvourney, Co. Cork

 

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Donal McSweeney’s home at Gurtnafuinsion is the venue for this second recording with the man of the house. The recording was compiled as Donal sat at his old oak dining table, which has stood witness to many extraordinary events. On June 11 1921, the morning on which the Truce was signed bringing to an end the War of Independence, a meeting took place of some of the local volunteers around the oak table, headed by Sean O’Hegarty, Brigadier General of the mid-Cork area. The second section of this recording was compiled at Kilmichael, between Macroom and Dunmanway. Donal McSweeney describes in minute detail, as he understands it from oral sources, the events as they unfolded on the day of the ambush on November 281920.


Number of files: 1
File size(s): 37.71 MB
Bitrate: 128 kbps
Download time limit: 48 hours

Audio series: Cork county, first series
Product ID: CDCK01-06
Subject: Kilmichael ambush
Recorded by: Maurice O’Keeffe
Length: 41:19


Paddy O’Meara (b. 1920)

Paddy O’Meara (b. 1920)

Mallow, Co. Cork

 

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Paddy O’Meara and his twin brother Dermot were born in Mallow in 1920 into a family of 10 boys and two girls. Their mother was a member of the Egan family of jewellers in Cork City, and Paddy has clear memories of childhood visits to the jewellery shop in the city, and watching the silversmiths at work on the top floor of the building. His earliest memory relates to the relocation of the entire family from Mallow to Youghal during the Troubles to ensure their safety, due to the fact that his uncle Barry Egan was Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork City during Terence McSwiney’s tenure as Lord Mayor. Paddy discusses the Duhallow Hunt with which he and his family have always been deeply involved. He relates the history of the Hunt which was founded in 1715. He also discusses the class distinction which existed in Mallow, as elsewhere, and which manifested itself in the sports of tennis, rugby and the Hunt in earlier days. Paddy O’Meara is a medical doctor who specialised in otorhinology. He emigrated and worked at Northampton General Hospital for a short period where his medical career began, followed by long years of service in his home county.


Number of files: 3
File size(s): 37.15 MB, 15.93 MB, 14.62 MB
Bitrate: 128 kbps
Download time limit: 48 hours

Audio series: Cork county, first series
Product ID: CDCK01-20
Subject: An old Cork family
Recorded by: Maurice O’Keeffe
Length: 74:06


Margaret O’Connell (née Walsh) (b. 1917)

Margaret O’Connell (née Walsh) (b. 1917)

Mallow, Co. Cork

 

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The four year old girl was playing happily with her siblings in the sandpit beside her home in Cappoquin, when a group of men dressed in black ran into the yard, shouting and waving their guns. The children cowered in terror as the Black and Tans ordered the family to get out of the house and stand in line against a wall. Margaret Walsh recalls being lifted up by her distraught mother and being brought to stand with the other family members. They were threatened with being shot in what was a mock execution in reprisal for Republican activity in the area. This memory is seared into the brain of Margaret O’Connell as she is recorded at her home in Mallow 87 years later. She has lived in Mallow for the greater part of her life, and here she recalls the fair days in the town on the first Thursday of each month. She discusses the old street names and the people of the town and their various occupations.


Number of files: 4
File size(s): 20.21 MB, 12.43 MB, 3.92 MB, 6.98 MB
Bitrate: 128 kbps
Download time limit: 48 hours

Audio series: Cork county, first series
Product ID: CDCK01-23
Subject: Dark memories of the Black and Tans
Recorded by: Maurice O’Keeffe
Length: 47:38


May Desmond (b. 1911)

May Desmond (b. 1911)

Blackrock, Co. Dublin

 

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May Desmond was recorded in a Blackrock, County Dublin, nursing home where she has resided for several years. She was born in 1911 in High Street in Cork City. On her marriage in 1937, she and her husband began their married life in Marble Hall. She has clear childhood memories of the tension and anxiety which pervaded the city during the War of Independence and she recalls seeing the aftermath of the burning of Cork. Her brother was taught by the artist Sean Keating and he later became a student of Harry Clarke and worked on the stained glass windows of Galway cathedral. May’s working life began when she became a secretarial employee of the newly formed Shannon Scheme in 1929. She had fluent German which was vital to her employment. She later worked for Dwyer’s wholesale drapery in Washington Street and she discusses the various departments in the store in fine detail. In 1937 she married Jack Desmond who, with his brothers, ran Desmonds' Printing Works in Cork and who later worked for the Cork Examiner.


Number of files: 5
File size(s): 13.94 MB, 5.73 MB, 17.16 MB, 14.76 MB, 19.97 MB
Bitrate: 128 kbps
Download time limit: 48 hours

Audio series: Cork county, first series
Product ID: CDCK01-24
Subject: Cork city in former days
Recorded by: Maurice O’Keeffe
Length: 78:19


Alice Daly (née Clarke) (b. 1903) (part 1)

Alice Daly (née Clarke) (b. 1903) (part 1)

Skibbereen, Co. Cork

 

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Alice Daly was reared in Skibbereen where her father, Alexander Clarke, was a constable in the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC). At the advanced age of 103, when she was recorded at her home in Portlaw, County Waterford, she has remarkably clear memories of a fateful day in July 1921 when her father was shot, the last formal victim of the Troubles 1919-1921. Constable Clarke was executed as the last seconds to the truce ticked by. For security reasons, he had been sleeping at night at the barracks and that morning, knowing the truce was imminent, he was walking unarmed from the Barracks to his home. A local Republican stepped forward and shot the constable at close range. Alexander Clarke died at the scene.


Number of files: 4
File size(s): 19.99 MB, 8.36 MB, 12.00 MB, 11.85 MB
Bitrate: 128 kbps
Download time limit: 48 hours

Audio series: Cork county, first series
Product ID: CDCK01-25
Subject: A tragic family history
Recorded by: Maurice O’Keeffe
Length: 57:10


Alice Daly (née Clarke) (b. 1903) (part 2)

Alice Daly (née Clarke) (b. 1903) (part 2)

Skibbereen, Co. Cork

 

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Alice Daly was born in Skibbereen in West Cork and in this recording she remembers her brother William Clarke, who enlisted with the British Army and fought and died in World War One. He enlisted at age 17, having given his age as 18. This tragedy was to forecast another for the family as Alice’s father, Royal Irish Constabulary Constable Alexander Clarke was shot dead in Skibbereen on the day of the signing of the Truce on July 11 1921. Alice has clear memories of joining her father as he walked the miles from the Skibbereen barracks to the barracks at Schull, before the latter was shut down. In her early adult life, before her marriage to Denis Daly of Bansha, she would sometimes make the trip back to Skibbereen to visit friends but has always held the place, and her memories of it, in the darker recesses of her mind.


Number of files: 3
File size(s): 16.34 MB, 4.86 MB, 14.06 MB
Bitrate: 128 kbps
Download time limit: 48 hours

Audio series: Cork county, first series
Product ID: CDCK01-26
Subject: A tragic family history
Recorded by: Maurice O’Keeffe
Length: 38:34


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