Fred Allan and Major John MacBride

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Issue 2 (Summer 2002), Letters, Letters, Volume 10

Sir,—I was very pleased to read the article by Owen McGee on FrederickJames Allan in your Spring issue, 2002 (HI 10.1). I hope that abiography is planned, as it is well deserved. My main interest in FredAllan has rested in his long-time relationship with Major JohnMacBride. The latter has been the recipient of a bad press from avariety of persons, including Maud Gonne, W.B. Yeats, Tom Kettle, andtheir respective biographers. One of the problems I encountered inseeking a fuller picture of MacBride, was the fact that, if he had leftany papers, they were not in the public domain. However in very recentyears, due to the good offices of the late Leon Ó Broin, MacBride’sextensive papers appeared in the National Library of Ireland, under thetitle, ‘The Fred Allan Papers’. MacBride lived in the Allan householdduring the last few years of his short life. The Allan family retainedhis papers in safe custody, for nearly seventy years. I was able tomake extensive use of them for my last book, The Yeats, Gonne, MacBrideTriangle. Since then I have succeeded in establishing the reason whyMacBride called Clara Allan (Fred’s wife), as his sole witness at hiscourt-martial in 1916. This intriguing story has been written up in thelast issue of Cathair na Mart, no.21, (2001), under the title, ‘HowMajor John MacBride became involved in the Easter Rising’.—Yours etc.,


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