Griffith’s revolver

Published in Editorial, Issue 1 (January/February 2015), Volume 23

Griffith gun2

A revolver belonging to Arthur Griffith, founder of Sinn Féin, has come to light and is now in the hands of County Cavan Museum, Ballyjamesduff. When discovered by the sister in charge in St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin, where Griffith died on 12 August 1922, the revolver was handed to the Garda sergeant on duty outside his room and has been in the possession of the Garda’s family for the past 92 years.

The revolver is one of a small batch that was smuggled into Ireland along with some Thomson submachine-guns from the USA via Liverpool in the autumn of 1921. The .38 calibre weapon was manufactured by Harrington-Richardson in the USA between 1904 and 1915.

Arthur Griffith, a pacifist, was carrying the revolver for self-protection, and in all probability never used or had to use it. He may have been given the revolver by Michael Collins as early as April 1922 when setting out for Sligo to campaign for the Treaty following a public threat to his life by anti-Treaty Irregulars in the area.

The revolver was sourced by Cavan historian Dermot McMonagle, after a chance meeting at a talk he gave at the History Festival of Ireland, Carlow, in June 2014 on his book 29 Main Street: living with Partition. In the audience was the granddaughter of the Garda sergeant who had been on duty outside the room where Griffith died.

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