Connaught Rangers mutineer John Miranda

Published in Issue 4 (July/August 2020), Letters, Volume 28

Above: Monument to the 1920 Connaught Rangers mutineers in Glasnevin Cemetery.

Sir,—The motivation of the small number of English soldiers involved in the mutiny of the Connaught Rangers in India presents even more complex questions than the motivation of the Irish soldiers (HI 28.3, May/June 2020, ‘The second funeral of James Daly’ by John Gibney). John Miranda, whose name follows those of James Daly, Peter Sears and Patrick Smythe on the memorial in Glasnevin cemetery, was born in Liverpool in 1899. Miranda died of enteric fever (typhoid) in Dagshai prison on 22 December 1920. He was believed to have been the son of a Spanish father and an Irish mother, and this background has led to comparisons with Eamon de Valera and an assumption that Miranda’s mother’s influence led him to sympathise with his Irish comrades.

Little has been recorded about John Miranda, but recent research by Niall Ennis and Clive O’Connor has established that, whatever about a Spanish father, his mother was not born in Ireland. She was Elizabeth Higgins, who was born in Liverpool and married José Miranda in 1895. José married again in 1905, and his second wife was an Irishwoman. She was a widow named Elizabeth McArdle, who as Elizabeth Sheelan had married Peter McArdle in Dundalk in 1883. Her father was a fisherman. She may have become John’s stepmother from 1905 and may have had an influence on him, but the census of 1911 shows that John Miranda at the age of 12 was an ‘inmate’ of an industrial school in Preston, run by the Brothers of Charity.

As Gibney states, the fact that Miranda was born in Liverpool ‘was deemed grounds for not pursuing the matter’ of the return of his remains in 1970. As far as I can ascertain, John Miranda’s grave in Dagshai cemetery is now neglected. It is ironic that the motto of the Connaught Rangers was ‘Quis separabit’ (Who will separate [us]?). The question now might be ‘Who will re-unite them?’—Yours etc.,

BRYAN MacMAHON

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