Present at shooting Of
Paddy Kennedy’s widow did not want her husband’s name mentioned in Ernie O’Malley’s notes of that day. Kennedy had been involved in the shooting of Captain McCormack, whom most now believe was not a spy. Captain McCormack’s mother wrote to Richard Mulcahy in 1922 asking if someone would admit that the shooting of her son was a mistake. She did not want people thinking he was a traitor ; she was related to Michael Davitt after all.
Ernie O'Malley (Irish: Earnán Ó Maille; 26 May 1897 – 25 March 1957) was born in Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland. He was an Irish Republican Army officer during the Irish War of Independence and a commander of the anti-treaty IRA during the Irish Civil War. O'Malley wrote three books, On Another Man's Wound, The Singing Flame, and Raids and Rallies. The first describes his early life and role in the War of Independence. The second covers the Civil War. The literary quality of these books and O'Malley's career after the political conflicts distinguish him from other IRA men who also penned memoirs of the times.
Ernie O'Malley (26 May 1897 – 25 March 1957) was born in Castlebar, County Mayo. He was an Irish Republican Army officer during the Irish War of Independence and a commander of the anti-treaty IRA during the Irish Civil War. O'Malley wrote three books, On Another Man's Wound, The Singing Flame, and Raids and Rallies. The first describes his early life and role in the War of Independence. The second covers the Civil War. The literary quality of these books and O'Malley's career after the political conflicts distinguish him from other IRA men who also penned memoirs of the times
Born Ernest Bernard Malley, he came from a respectable middle-class Roman Catholic family in Mayo. He was the second of eleven children. His father was a clerk in the Congested Districts Board, which organised land reform in the west of Ireland. His family's politics were conservative nationalist, supporting the Irish Parliamentary Party. His first cousin, Gilbert Laithwaite, would become the British ambassador to Ireland in the 1950s.The Malleys moved to Dublin when Ernie was still a child and the 1911 census lists them living at 7 Iona Drive, Glasnevin. His older brother, Frank, joined the British Army at the outbreak of the First World War.O'Malley was studying medicine at University College Dublin in 1916 when the Easter Rising convulsed the city, and he was almost persuaded by some Unionist friends to join them in defending Trinity College, Dublin from the rebels should they attempt to take it. After some thought, he decided his sympathies were with the rebels and he and a friend took some shots at British troops with a borrowed rifle during the fighting.
He left his studies and worked as a full-time organiser for the IRA from 1918 on, work that brought him to almost every corner of Ireland. Although officially attached to IRA GHQ, O'Malley was tasked as a training officer for rural IRA units, which involved him in IRA operations throughout the country once the war got under way.In February 1920, he and Eoin O'Duffy led an IRA attack on the Royal Irish Constabulary barracks in Ballytrain, County Monaghan, and were successful in taking it over. This was the first capture of an RIC barracks in the war.
In September, he and Liam Lynch led the 2nd County Cork Brigade in the only capture of a British army barracks in the conflict, in Mallow. They left with a haul of rifles, two Hotchkiss machine-guns and ammunition. The officers and soldiers later sacked the town, burning the town hall and the creamery, and ironically were only brought under control by members of the Auxiliary Division.
He was captured by the British in Kilkenny in December 1920, in possession of a handgun. Much to his disgust, he had failed to destroy his notes, which contained the names of all the members of the 7th West Kilkenny Brigade, all of whom were subsequently arrested. Having been badly beaten during his interrogation at Dublin Castle and in severe danger of execution, he escaped from Kilmainham Jail on 21 February 1921 along with two other I.R.A. men, through the aid of a sympathetic British soldier. At his arrest he had identified himself as 'Bernard Stewart' and his true identity was unknown at the time of his escape.O'Malley was placed in command of the IRA's Second Southern Division in Munster, giving him responsibility for IRA operations in Limerick, Kilkenny and Tipperary.
His writings describe the often-vicious guerilla warfare fought in the martial law area in the south of Ireland. On one occasion, O'Malley ordered the killing of three captured British officers in reprisal for Army killings of IRA prisoners. In all his field activities he displayed substantial courage and was wounded several times.
Photo taken while a British prisoner in 1920
The British were aware of his role: while in custody under the alias "Bernard Stewart", he had seen a memorandum referring to a 'notorious rebel and officer of the IRA' named "Ernie O'Malley" whom they were very anxious to capture.
O'Malley objected to the Anglo-Irish Treaty that formally ended the "Tan War" (the term by which he and many other anti-Treaty Republicans preferred to refer to the War of Independence), opposing any settlement that fell short of an independent Irish Republic, particularly one backed up by British threats of restarting hostilities. He was one of the anti-Treaty IRA officers who occupied the Four Courts in Dublin, an event that helped to spark the Irish Civil War. O'Malley was appointed assistant chief of staff in the anti-treaty forces.
O'Malley surrendered to the Free State forces after two day's bombardment of the Four Courts but escaped captivity and travelled via the Wicklow Mountains to Blessington then County Wexford and finally County Carlow.This was probably fortunate for him, as four of the other Four Courts leaders were later executed. Thereafter, he was appointed commander of the anti-Treaty forces in the provinces of Ulster and Leinster, and lived a clandestine existence in Dublin.
O'Malley was captured again after a shoot-out with Free State troops in the Ballsbridge area of Dublin city on 4 November 1922.O'Malley was severely wounded in the incident, being hit over twenty times (three bullets remained lodged in his back for the remainder of his life). A Free State soldier was also killed in the gun fight.
Fate was to intervene as the surgeon who attended to O'Malley was a former medical college classmate, and overstated the seriousness of the prisoner's wounds, saving O'Malley from execution by the Free State - whose policy by that time was to execute Anti-Treaty fighters captured in possession of weapons. It may also have been too much of a risk on the part of the Irish Free State to put to death an undisputed hero of the recent struggle against the British although O'Malley often feared that he was only hours from execution.By the time O'Malley recovered from his wounds, the Civil War was over and he was transferred to Mountjoy prison. During this period of imprisonment, O'Malley went on hunger strike for forty-one days, in protest at the continued detention of IRA prisoners after the war. While on hunger strike, he was elected as a Sinn Féin TD for Dublin North in the 1923 general election. He was one of the last Republican prisoners to be released following the end of hostilities. At his family's suggestion, he took an extended vacation in Europe to recover his health, climbing mountains in the Pyrenees and Italy.
O'Malley returned to University College Dublin to continue his medical studies in 1926 where he was heavily involved in the university hillwalking club and Literary and Historical Society, but he left Ireland in 1928 without graduating. In 1928, he toured the USA on behalf of Éamon de Valera raising funds for the establishment of the new Irish Republican newspaper the Irish Press.
He spent the next few years travelling throughout the United States before arriving in Taos in New Mexico in 1930, where he lived among the native Americans for a time and began work on his account of the manuscript that would later become On Another Man's Wound.
In 1934, O'Malley was granted a pension by the Fianna Fáil government as a combatant in the Irish War of Independence. Now possessed of a steady income, he married Helen Hooker in London on 27 September 1935 and returned to Ireland. The O'Malleys had three children and divided their time between Dublin and Burrishoole in Mayo. Hooker and O'Malley devoted themselves to the arts, she involved in sculpture and theatre, while he made his living as a writer. In 1936, On Another Man's Wound was published to critical and commercial acclaim. O'Malley remained in neutral Ireland during The Emergency, involving himself as a member of the Local Security Force. However, during the war years the O'Malleys' marriage began to fail.Helen began to spend more and more time with her family in the United States and, in 1950, "kidnapped" two of the couple's three children and took them to live with her in Colorado. She divorced her husband in 1952. O'Malley kept their other son and sent him to boarding school in England. Ironically, despite his Republican politics, O'Malley was great admirer of the English Public School system of education.
Throughout his life O'Malley endured considerable ill-health from the wounds and hardship he had suffered during his revolutionary days. As befitting a celebrated figure of the Anglo-Irish War, was given a state funeral after his death in 1957.
O'Malley's political ideas were somewhat vague, apart from an absolute commitment to full Irish independence. He largely eschewed politics after the Civil War, describing himself as "a soldier" who "had fought and killed the enemies of my nation". He saw it as a "soldier's job to win the war and a politician's job to win the peace".