Tom Barry and Seán MacEoin

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, General, Issue 1(Jan/Feb 2013), Letters, Revolutionary Period 1912-23, Volume 21

Sir,—Peter Connolly (Letters, HI 20.6, Nov./Dec. 2012) contrasts the wiping out by Tom Barry’s column of eighteen Auxiliaries at Kilmichael in November 1920 with the sparing of men from the same force by Seán MacEoin’s men at Ballinalee in February 1921. Neither Barry nor any of his men suffered injury or imprisonment as a result of his decision to finish off the Auxiliaries (whether that decision followed a false surrender or not). By contrast, Seán MacEoin was later captured and put on trial by the British and sentenced to death by hanging as a criminal, following the testimony of the men he spared, even though they testified to his humane treatment of them. Had any of his men been captured and recognised, they too would have been similarly sentenced. Only the election of MacEoin to the Dáil and the insistence by his comrades on his release before they would agree to a truce with the British saved his neck. I would suggest that Tom Barry was the more prudent leader.—Yours etc.,

 

DONAL KENNEDY

London
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