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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


William Geary (1899-2004), part 4

William Geary (1899-2004), part 4

Bayside, New York, USA

2004

 

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In June 2004, I was invited by the Irish American Historical Society in New York to come to the city to address them on my work involving the recording and archiving of local history and folklore. The Society also suggested that I record the memories of William Geary from Ballyagran, Co. Limerick who lived in New York. I was very pleased to be afforded the opportunity to meet this fascinating man, who had lived in three centuries - his young manhood lived in an Ireland in the grip of appalling turmoil. I made my way to Bayside, New York and met William Geary, and his story held such fascination for me, I returned to record him a second time during that week. At that time he was 105 years old, and was to die peacefully less than six months later. William began his life in Ballyagran. He was born in 1899, into a strong farming family. Following schooling locally he travelled to Caherciveen, Co. Kerry in 1918 to train as a wireless operator at the Atlantic Wireless School. Principal Maurice Fitzgerald awarded him a First Class Honour on his graduation. For a year he travelled the world as a ship's wireless operator, and then decided to return home, where he became involved in drilling the local Volunteers in Co. Limerick. In May 1922 he joined the new Garda Siochána and served initially in Newbridge, Co Kildare. He was on duty in Dublin Castle along with many colleagues from Kildare on the day the British flag was lowered and "... the British marched out and we marched in." Later he was on sentry duty by night at the Castle and remembers rifle fire "... all over the city." He was promoted to Acting Inspector and transferred to Clones, Co Monaghan, and later Templemore, Co Tipperary where two Gardaí were dismissed for their failure to arrest an armed IRA man as the standard of discipline within the Garda force was extremely rigid. On 10th June 1926 he was transferred to Kilrush, Co Clare as Superintendent. The IRA was active in the area, being involved in general harassment such as the burning of farmers' hay, though William contended that compensation was sometimes sought from the Government for hay which was otherwise set alight! On 14th June 1928 he was summoned to the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis, in uniform, to meet Commissioner Eoin O'Duffy and Chief Superintendent of Detectives David Neligan. He was accused of accepting a £100 bribe from the IRA and was dismissed from the GardaSiochána on 25th June 1928. He was devastated at this turn of events and returned home to Limerick. He made the decision to emigrate to New York, as he now had no prospects in Ireland, so shortly thereafter he booked his passage and sailed to New York, where he boarded for some time with his former nanny from Ballyagran, Miss Mary Ellen Keane. He took various employments over the years and during the Second World War he joined the US Air Force. He married and reared a family, but always endeavoured to clear his name by writing to consecutive Ministers for Justice in Ireland. For all of seventy years he and his friends at home in Ireland never faltered in their efforts to get justice for him, and to have him fully exonerated. Finally, in 2002 John O'Donoghue, Minister for Justice, restored his honour and travelled to New York to meet William Geary personally. After all the long and bitter years of battling for exoneration Mr Geary was elated and relieved and he lived out his final days in peace until his death in late 2004


Number of files: 1
File size(s): 34.08 MB
Bitrate: 128 kbps
Download time limit: 48 hours

Audio series: Witnesses to Independence
Product ID: CD1916-10
Subject: An early member of the Garda Siochána and his battle for justice
Recorded by: Maurice O’Keeffe
Length:


Des and Pam Cooke

Des and Pam Cooke

Tralee, Co. Kerry

2004

 

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Track 1: Des Cooke and his wife Pam recall the background to the Cooke family in Kerry. In 1909, Des’s father, Charles, was employed as chauffeur at the Crosbie estate in Ballyheigue, and he later set up a hackney business at 33 Upper Castle Street, Tralee. Des remembers his brother-in-law, Harry Flower, who set up what is now Kerry Motor Works in Tralee. Pam tells the story of how her father-in-law, Charles, was caught up in the Rising while on honeymoon in Dublin. Both Des and Pam recall the death threats sent to Pam’s brother Harry, and to Des’s father Charles during the Civil war, ordering them to leave Ireland for their own safety. Pam still retains these original letters. Track 2: Des reminisces about other motor works in the town of Tralee and the variety of businesses there in earlier days. Pam recalls her involvement with leisure pursuits in the town. And Des recalls his brothers Jack and Roger, who were killed on active service with the RAF during WWII. A third brother, Peter, also in the RAF, survived.


Number of files: 1
File size(s): 38.00 MB
Bitrate: 128 kbps
Download time limit: 48 hours

Audio series: Witnesses to Independence
Product ID: CD1916-21
Subject: A Protestant family during the Troubles
Recorded by: Maurice O’Keeffe
Length: 42:00


Mike Christopher O'Shea (b. 1917)

Mike Christopher O'Shea (b. 1917)

Caherciveen, Co. Kerry

2003

 

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Track 1: Stories are told of Caherciveen during its occupation by the Black and Tans and Mike Christopher O’Shea recalls his uncle who fought in the trenches of Flanders in World War I and was presumed dead until he returned to Caherciveen. Track 2: The buildings, the people and their occupations in the town of Caherciveen in earlier days are recalled, as is his father who had a tailoring business. Track 3: Memories of 1938, when he led the local pipe band to greet Steve Casey, a local sporting hero, and later Alfie Byrne, Lord Mayor of Dublin, who officially opened the church at Chapeltown, Valentia. Also recalled are the journeymen tailors, who would regularly stay in the family home. Track 4: 1933 is mentioned, when Valentia Harbour was considered as a suitable stop-off point for seaplanes, though subsequently the port of Foynes was selected. Track 5: Memories are recalled of social life in Caherciveen during the Emergency and some of the local ‘characters’, including ‘Parnell’. The recording concluded with a recitation of a poem which he wrote in honour of his hero, Michael Collins.


Number of files: 1
File size(s): 51.67 MB
Bitrate: 128 kbps
Download time limit: 48 hours

Audio series: Witnesses to Independence
Product ID: CD1916-24
Subject: The life of a tailor
Recorded by: Maurice O’Keeffe
Length: 56:23


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:


Fergus Barron (b. 1928)

Fergus Barron (b. 1928)

Dublin

2009

 

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Fergus Barron was born in West Cork and at the age of eight he and his family moved to Ennis. His father, James, was imprisoned during the Civil War, and his Cavan-born mother was a member of Cumann na mBan. Fergus Barron graduated with a degree in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering from University College Cork. At the age of 24, he began work with the E.S.B., and worked at the Department of Posts and Telegraphs in Limerick for 27 years, where he found the level of performance very poor. In 1952 he joined Bord na Móna and his first appointment was to Lanesborough in Co. Longford. Two years later he was moved to Mountdillon as an assistant manager and then to Derrygreenagh. In 1956 he became manager at Lullymore until 1959, when he went to Derrinlough. A year later he was appointed to head office in Dublin where he was in charge of maintenance in sod and milled peat bogs. He later was appointed to the post of personnel manager. In the first section of this double recording he discusses in great detail all these various appointments.


Number of files: 5
File size(s): 16.61 MB, 11.02 MB, 5.24 MB, 12.74 MB, 1.89 MB
Bitrate: 128 kbps
Download time limit: 48 hours

Audio series: Bord Na Móna
Product ID: CDBM-06
Subject: Versatility in the work place: former engineer at Bord Na Móna (part 1)
Recorded by: Maurice O’Keeffe
Length:


Harris M.S. Miller (b. 1918)

Harris M.S. Miller (b. 1918)

2009

 

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Harris “Dusty” Miller is a native of Kent. He qualified in 1939 with a B.Sc. in Engineering from Woolwich Polytechnic. That year he joined the British Army and he discusses his wartime career, during which he worked in General Mountbatten’s headquarters. He met his future, a Cork lady named Neville, in Burma and he subsequently came to Ireland having obtained a position with Bord na Móna in 1946 as a Technical Development Supervisor. He recalls his job interview board, which included Aodhagan O’Rahilly, Todd Andrews, Robert Barton and T.S. Wheeler. He was assigned to the Experimental Station at Newbridge. Paddy Cogan, General Manager, accompanied Harris Miller as they travelled around the bogs. He also travelled overseas, and clearly recalls his trips to Russia, where he accessed information on the production of milled peat for the home market. He set up an International Peat Committee and remembers overseas visitors coming to the first symposium on the subject in Dublin. He is proud to discuss the development of a unique tractor and the Móna Jack Burner, which he feels is his major contribution to Bord na Móna.


Number of files: 5
File size(s): 7.14 MB, 9.73 MB, 5.95 MB, 11.00 MB, 11.03 MB
Bitrate: 128 kbps
Download time limit: 48 hours

Audio series: Bord Na Móna
Product ID: CDBM-11
Subject: A witness to innovation: former technical development supervisor, Bord Na Móna (part 1)
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


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