Paddy Butner: the boy in the GPO, 1916

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Issue 3 (May/Jun 2006), Letters, Letters, Revolutionary Period 1912-23, Volume 14

‘Many people have claimed to be him. His real name was Paddy Butner. He was 9 years old’ (Desmond Ryan).

Sir,

—I am compiling information in order to write a short articleconcerning Paddy Butner. In 1929 Col. Charles Dalton, in his book Withthe Dublin Brigade, gave the credit for driving the stolen armoured carunder the command of Maj. Gen. Emmet Dalton into Mountjoy Jail in 1921in order to rescue Lt. Gen. Seán McEoin, then under sentence of death,to Pat McCrea, a well-known member of Michael Collins’s active serviceunit. Thirty-five years ago I read an old history book that said thatthe driver of the car in this daring adventure was Paddy Butner. Italso stated that the reason he was not with Michael Collins at Beal naBlath in 1922 was because he took the anti-Treaty side during the CivilWar. In view of the fact that Paddy Butner was Patrick Pearse’s mascotin the GPO and was dressed up like him in a Robin-Hood-style hat andcarried the tricolour for him, this matter requires further researchand clarification.

—Yours etc.,
RICHARD J. MITCHELL
Room 51
Back Lane Hostel
Christ Church
Dublin 8

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