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James McGovern

Trying to trace involvement of James McGovern (Co Fermanagh ), student at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra and member of IRB, was very quiet about his past and also very proud of his yellow/black pin and ribbon. I believe he ceased his teacher training and became involved militarily. I think he may have met up with Sergeant Patrick Reilly, RIC who ironically was from his next-door parish in Co Fermanagh. I think their paths may have crossed at the “springing” of Dan Breen and he knew Tom Barry well, I think. but I don’t want to appear to be name-dropping. He finally ended back in Co Fermanagh working as a labourer. Was there a West Cavan Brigade? I came across an exer book recording treasurer’s expenditure in his writing, but it was all very mundane stuff – about groceries bought etc I have his photograph (head only) on a memoriam card in this he is wearing a uniform.

Ref: James McGovern, Aghandisert, Derrylin, Enniskillen, co Fermanagh would have been his home address. No-one living there now (1/4 mile from Fermanagh/Cavan) border. So when partition came it was a very, very bitter pill to swallow at the time. Residents went to bed Irish and woke up British citizens. I remember my mother used to cry about it. I used to know which side of the civil war certain pubs in Ballyconnell were by the hostelries my Uncle James used to visit. I owe it to him to find out what I can so that if necessary I can separate fact from fiction. I think a Hugh McDonald from Belturbet area may have been a volunteer friend of his. They used to have to use “safe houses” and dodge “curfew police” when coming home to see their families. Partition left them “on the run” and forgotten.


James Hannan

James Hannan was born in Belfast around 1875.

Below is an entry in the 1911 census showing that he lived in Bombay Street Belfast, near the Falls Road…

I have attached two pdf documents from the Irish Times archive, showing a incident in Belfast in which he prevented the police from entering a Sinn Fein meeting. He was subsequently imprisoned for this offence.

My grandfather died in Belfast in 1951, so I never knew him (I was born in 1960).

My father let me know that my grandfather was an agent of Michael Collins and lived in Liverpool around 1920 under the assumed name of “Fox”.

He was sent by Michael Collins to Liverpool mainly to get guns for the IRA back in Ireland.

Prior to this he was in prison with Thomas Ashe and was force fed after being involved in the hunger strike around 1917.

The details above are also documented in a book by “Uinseann Mc Eoin”, “The IRA in the Twilight Years”. My father Pat Hannan contributed to this book and there is a chapter in the book dedicated to his account.

I also have attached a image from Padraig O’Ruairc’s book “Revolution” .
This is a photo of released IRA prisoners in Liverpool in 1922 (page 196) .
The man I have circled is the image of my father, so it may be my grandfather.
I am not sure if it is possible to find out who is in the photo?

Liverpool IRA

If you have any advice please let me know.

Thanks again for your help.
Seamus Hannan

Robert “Bobbie” Bonfield

I am looking for information about a distant relative of mine Robert “Bobbie” Bonfield (sometimes incorrectly spelt as Bondfield) who was a member of Na Fianna and graduated to the IRA in 1918 when he would have been about 15 or 16.

Bobbie took the anti-Treaty side in the Civil War and was killed by Free State forces in March 1923.

I can find information about his death, but nothing about his activities in Na Fianna or afterwards in the IRA – would your researches have thrown up his name at all?

Bobbie lived at the family home at 103 Moyne Road, Ranelagh, Dublin 6 if that helps you narrow things down. He was a classmate of CS “Todd” Andrews and may have joined the Volunteers with him as Andrews joined at the same age.

At the time of his death he was a 20 year old dental student in the third year of his studies at UCD.

Any scraps of information that you can give me would be most appreciated.

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  1. mmckenna February 21, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Thanks to the help of some members of this forum and others, I have been able to discover quite a bit about Robert “Bobbie” Bonfield, at the time of his death on 29/03/1923 he was the O/C of G Company, 4th Battalion, 1st Dublin Brigade.

    I am looking for information on the activities of G Company both during the War of Independence and later in the Civil War. Did the formations stay much the same after the ‘Split’? Would he have been in G Company prior to the Civil War or was there much reorganisation of the units?

    In particular I am looking for descriptions of any actions that G Company were involved in.

    Bonfield was arrested on 07th March 1923 by a Lieut. Bolger after his house at 103 Moyne Road, Ranelagh was raided and a veritable arsenal (including a Lewis Gun and three revolvers) were siezed. He was taken to Portobello Barracks from where he subsequently escaped a couple of nights later.

    He went to the house of schoolmates of his, Brendan and Kevin Mangan, at Albany Terrace, Ranelagh and had a wash and some food before going on the run. A ‘servant girl’ who had helped give him the meal probably reported him to the authorities. The following night the Mangan’s house was raided by ” a group of men in plain clothes accompanied by a man in the uniform of an Army Lieutenant” who were looking for Bonfield.

    Brendan Mangan was taken to the back garden and interrogated. His parents attempted to intervene and when his mother asked why he was not arrested and charged in the ‘proper way’, the chilling reply was “We are out to execute, not make arrests”.

    Mangan’s excuses were believed and the group left, which was rather lucky as Bonfield had hidden arms under the floor of the Mangans henhouse and Brendan was aware of this. The Mangans kept the guns hidden for many years and later when the family moved house Brendan transferred the guns to the henhouse at their new address. It was only years later when there was an amnesty that his brother Kevin handed in the guns.

    On the 29th of March 1923, about 2 weeks later, Bonfield was lifted by Cosgraves bodyguard which included Joe McGrath, John O’Reilly (who was either a Col., a Cmmdt., or a Superintendent) and an unnamed guard. Two of these men took him to Clondalkin and shot him.

    I would like to identify Lieut. Bolger who was probably based in Portobello Barracks and also Col/Cmmdt/Supt O’Reilly. Any help would be most appreciated.

  2. Anita Frain June 10, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    I can name three from the photo they are

    seated R (arms folded) John Pinkman

    seated second left (holding hurle ) Patrick Lowe

    Standing third right ?McPhillips can supply christian name when I get my notes out .Please let me knowif it would help you.

  3. Ray Kellett June 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Re: Patrick Lowe in photograph.
    Would anyone know if this Patrick Lowe was brother of Arnold Lowe who served in the Four Courts in 1916 Rising.
    I have original photos of my great uncles Patrick and Harry Lowe in National Army uniform. My mother mentioned one of her uncles was imprisoned however I’ve been unable to find out if this was Arnie or Paddy or both.
    Thank You.

  4. Ger Byrne July 12, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Hi All.

    i am currently researching my grandfather Mattie Boylan, he was active in the south Leitrim Briade no 2 column, he took part in the ambush at Sheemore and is reported to have driven a doctor Andrew Mooney of Ballinamore around, taking the car out when needed by the column, (as reported in newspaper cuttings at the time of his death), he also took part in the attack on the Carrick on Shannon court house and possibly the attack on Ballinamore,. after the ”Selton hill ambush” an orange man was shot for informing on the position of the column, according to family history/ stories i have reason to believe he may have been at least present on the occasion. if anyone has any information on the exploits of this column or any column within the Leitrim/Roscommon/ Lonford area during the war of independence can you get in touch.

  5. Gwen Keenan September 16, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    This is message for Ray Kellett
    Re: Patrick Lowe dated June 25th 2012
    I am currently researching the Lowe family and possibly the connection to Arnold Lowe (Four Courts) If their parents were Joseph and Sarah Lowe I would love if you could help me out.
    Kind Regards

  6. Noel Mc Evoy October 16, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Hi, I am trying to find information about my grandfather, Edward O’reilly, we have a cert which tells us he was with “H Company 1st batallion Dublin Brigade” the dates on the cert are 1917-1923. Along the side of the cert it tells us of events he was involved in. “the customs house” “capel street” “Kings inn” and the attempted escape of Kevin Barry, The names signed on the cert are, Seamus Kavanagh,, Thomas Byrne, Patrick Holahan and Oscar Traynor. thanks for your help

  7. […] took Commandant Robert ‘Bobbie’ Bonfield to Clondalkin and shot him…’ (from here.) However, in her book ‘Four roads to Dublin: the history of Rathmines, Ranelagh and Leeson […]

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