Eamonn Corbett and 1916

Eamonn Corbett came from Kileeneenbeg near Clarinbridge. He was associated with the Volunteer movement in County Galway from 1914 onwards. After the Redmondite split he gave valuable assistance in organising the Volunteers throughout the county, and in 1915 he was assisting Liam Mellows while training the various companies in the Brigade area.

In April 1916, he was Brigade Adjutant to Larry Lardner and played an important role in the preparations for Easter Week. In the week before, he responded to a communication from Pádraic Pearse and went to St Enda’s in Dublin to receive instructions for the Brigade. He returned on the Tuesday night with the word for the rebellion, and for the rest of the week was active in the preparations. On Easter Sunday he was mobilised with his company when the countermanding order came.

On receipt of the fresh order on Easter Monday for the Rising to commence, he had all the men in his area mobilised within a short space of time.

He was involved with his company in the attack on Clarinbridge RIC Barracks on the Tuesday morning, under the command of Liam Mellows. Corbett had a revolver and threw bombs into the barracks, but apart from him, there were only about six rifles in the company. The rest were armed with spears and shotguns and so they did not manage to capture the barracks.

That evening the company joined up with the Oranmore/Maree Company to attack the Oranmore Barracks and blow up the bridge there. They then moved on to Athenry where they camped in a farmyard building. At dawn the following morning, a strong force of police came out and a party of five or six Volunteers attacked them. They then moved on to Moyode where they joined other companies. They were waiting all of this time for rifles from the “Aud”. This was important as most of the group were under arms in the sense that they had old arms, but they were waiting for up to date weapons. After two days they heard that the arms were not coming. They remained until Friday when they heard that enemy artillery was arriving, so many of them moved towards Galway. They disbanded on the Saturday morning of Easter Week. There were about 800 men in total involved in County Galway.

Eamonn Corbett went on the run and that September, he went to America where he continued to work for the Volunteers, gathering arms, etc. He returned in 1918 and was captured and sent to Arbour Hill and later to Maryborough and on to Lincoln Gaol, charged with the attempted murder of Constable John Clark, RIC. He went on hunger strike a number of times before he was released in October 1919.

He was described in the Police Gazette as “Clean Shaven, Galway accent, grey or blue eyes, regular nose, sallow complexion, thin face, slight make, approximate weight 11.5 stone, 5’ 8” high, about 28 years of age, dark hair, wore a black trilby hat, dark coat, trousers and vest, farmer’s son”.

He later fought in the War of Independence and later still became chairman of Galway County Council. He died in 1945.

There is still a little time to go and see the exhibition entitled West Side Story which is on show in the library in Westside.

It is a fascinating collection of old photographs and documents relating to the general area including Rahoon, Newcastle, and Shantalla. A wonderful exercise in a community compiling their local history, and a model for others to copy. Don’t miss it.


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