Peg Broderick-Nicholson and the War Of Independence

Peg was born at 17 Prospect Hill of parents with a strong nationalist outlook. She went to school in ‘The Pres’, where after the 1916 Rising there was a pitched battle between the wearers of the red, white, and blue badges (common during World War I ) and those wearing green, white, and gold badges. The green side won, but then all the badges were confiscated by Mother Brendan.

When a branch of Cumann na mBan was formed in Galway in 1917, Peg joined immediately. She attended instructional lectures, first aid lectures, did a lot of drilling, and she and her colleagues disrupted recruiting meetings as best they could. She worked on intelligence, carrying dispatches and watching RIC patrols. In preparation for the 1918 general election, they started to drill and have exercises out in the country. On one occasion they were marching back through the village of Barna, and when they reached the RIC barracks they were charged by the police who wanted to arrest the Volunteer officer. “We immediately pounced on the police. I remember getting up on one policeman’s back and getting my two hands around his throat. He wriggled to knock me off and let his grip on the prisoner relax. Another RIC man intervened and pulled me off. I grabbed the second fellow’s cap and beat him on the head with the hard peak, and the other fellow swung round and struck me with his revolver on the side of the head, above my ear. I was half stunned and staggered against the wall when someone shouted, ‘This is no time for fainting’.” 

The police got the Volunteer into the barracks and came out shooting in the air to frighten the women and using vile language. “We collected all the stones, of which there were plenty, and broke every window in the barracks.”

In 1920, as well as delivering dispatches, she was involved in the collection and delivery of revolvers and ammunition. That year the Tans made an attempt to burn Broderick’s house, but it was saved by the neighbours even though the Tans were “firing shots all over the place”. They saturated every door with petrol, also the ground floor, and closed all the doors in an attempt to burn all the occupants in their rooms.

Baker’s Hotel in Eyre Street (later known as The Ivy ) was a happy home for the Tans. One of the daughters of the house was warned by the Volunteers about associating with the Tans. The Volunteers eventually cut the plait off her hair. That night, during curfew hours, the Tans came to Peg’s house. “I thought at first they were going to shoot me but they took me out, and grabbed my hair saying, ‘What wonderful curls you’ve got’, and then proceeded to cut off all my hair to the scalp with a very blunt scissors. I might say they did not handle me too roughly which is strange to say. They pushed me towards the door and said ‘Goodnight’. I had to have my hair shaved by a barber next day in order to have the hair grow properly.” That same night they also cut the hair off Gertie Madden, St Brendan’s Terrace, and Margaret Turke, College Road. When Peg went to the pictures wearing a hat, the boys sitting behind used to let an odd shout to remove the hat as they could not see the screen.

On another occasion, one of the Republican dances they used to organise in the Town Hall was raided by the Black and Tans. There were a number of revolvers there but Peg managed somehow to hide two of them in her knickers and then she swanned out the door past the Tans. Soon after she passed them, she fainted, but she had saved the guns.

With other members of Cumann na mBan she used to visit Volunteer prisoners in Galway Gaol and often got parcels for them past the guards. The job she hated most was enticing British soldiers down the docks in order to have them relieved of their arms by the Volunteers who were commanded by their officer, her brother Johnny.

Later in life, Peg married Hector Nicholson and they lived in Fr Griffin Road.

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