The First Galway Brigade, 2nd Battalion

During the War of Independence, the Volunteers, for organisational purposes, divided the country into divisions. Connacht and County Clare were split into four such sections. In each of these, the members were divided into brigades, battalions, companies, and flying columns. The First Galway Brigade was divided into three battalions, Castlegar, Claregalway, and Headford.

The companies of the 1st Battalion were located as follows: Castlegar, Galway city, Derrydonnell, Newcastle, Cregmore, Cussane, and Monivea. Their unit strength was 469 all ranks. The 2nd Battalion had a unit strength of 154 souls and its companies were located in Claregalway, Annaghdown A and Annaghdown B, and Kilcoona. The 3rd Battalion’s companies were in Cloneen, Claran, and Caherlistrane and their unit strength was 135 all ranks.

Our photograph shows a group of selected officers of the 2nd Battalion who were called up for a special training course at Killeen Castle, Claregalway, in 1921. The photograph was taken by Battalion adjutant Peter Lally and shows, in the front (reclining ), Martin Skerritt and drill instructor W Cunningham. Kneeling are J Cunningham, Slievefin; D Greally, Claregalway; Capt Frank Cunnane, Kilcoona, who was later executed in Tuam; Nicholas Murphy, Claregalway; P O’Brien, Galway; P Connell, Kilcoona; and Sergeant W Cody, Claregalway.

Centre row: Vice-Commandant Martin Grealish, Claregalway, later went to Wellington, New Zealand; T Cunningham, Claregalway; Commandant Pádraic Feeney, Claregalway OC Second Battalion (in uniform ); Lieut T Fox, Claregalway, later Napill, New Zealand; Martin Fahy, Claregalway; Seamus Duggan, Claregalway; Volunteer Cradock, Kilcoona; Volunteer Langan, Kilcoona; Michael Feeney, St Bridget’s Place, Galway; John Healy, Drumgriffin; Lieut Martin Kyne, Abbeytown, later in the US Diplomatic Service; and Vice-Brigadier Tom Ruane, Carnmore.

Back row: Tom King, Corandulla, later chairman of Galway County Council; Lieut Joe O’Flynn, Annaghdown; Seán Lynskey, Claregalway; Seán Lally, Claregalway, later New Zealand; P Dooley, Kilcoona, later USA; Seán Collins, Claregalway, later USA; John Melia, Aughlogeen, later Woodquay, Galway; and Malachy Healy, Aughlogeen, later New York.

Our sincere thanks to Cathy Fahy for this photograph, one of the many to be included in a forthcoming exhibition in the Galway City Museum. It will deal with the revolutionary decade, 1913-1923, in Galway, and will contain a number of important artefacts, documents, posters, etc. It will open around Easter time. If you have anything you think might interest them, they would love to see it. You can contact Brendan McGowan at the museum.

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