John Hosty, 1916 veteran

For John Hosty from Shantalla, the ‘physical force’ movement originated some time before 1910 with the publication of The United Irishman, a newspaper which kept a lot of young people from following ‘the constitutional movement’. When the 1913 Oireachtas was held in Galway, Seán McDermott used the occasion to swear in a number of young Galwegians to the IRB, and from then on they did all they could against the Irish Party, including distributing anti-enlisting literature at all hours of the night.

The Irish Volunteers were inaugurated in Galway at a meeting in the Town Hall in December 1913 which was addressed by Roger Casement and Eoin McNeill, among others. A huge number of men enlisted. Drilling became brisk and companies were formed throughout the county but because of the World War, the ‘split’ was inevitable. A mass meeting in the Town Hall ended with a tied vote, and the chairman Martin McDonogh used his casting vote and the motion, “That the Irish Volunteers deserve the support of the meeting,” was lost. The Volunteers had the people and press against them.

George Nicholls formed a pipe band, most of whom were members of the IRB. They played throughout the county at concerts and matches and did a lot of propaganda work. Our photograph is of John Hosty in the band uniform in 1912.

In 1915 a recruiting meeting was called for the Town Hall. Stink bombs were manufactured in UCG and distributed among a few volunteers who got into the hall. John Hosty, Tom Hynes, and Michael Kavanagh cut the electricity wires opposite the stained glass window of the Mercy Convent chapel at Newtownsmyth and the whole area was plunged into darkness. Meanwhile, the stink bombs were placed on the floor and crushed, causing the hall to be evacuated very quickly.

The Irish Volunteers had a drill hall at the rear of a shop (later the Blackrock Tailors ) in Williamsgate Street, and a few weeks after the stink bomb incident, a large group opposed to the Volunteers and supported by the RIC began to hurl missiles at the building, breaking all the windows. Members of the company had to run for it. The last six men out, George Nicholls, Jim Carter, Mr McKeigue, Tom Flanagan, MJ Allen, and John Hosty, were chased through the streets. The following night the mob toured the town causing a lot of damage to the homes of Volunteers. The remnants of the Galway Company as a unit ceased to function.

In the few days before Easter Sunday, 1916, they knew the Rising was planned but there was confusion as to whether it would take place or not. A meeting was called on the Saturday at George Nicholls’ house in University Road where it was decided that John Hosty would travel to Dublin to meet Eoin McNeill and Padraic Pearse to see what the situation was. He went to Rathfarnam where he met Mrs Pearse, who told him neither Padraic nor Willie was at home, so he went on to McNeill’s house, where he was told by McNeill that the countermanding order had already been sent out. McNeill instructed Hosty to go to Limerick to tell them there that ‘all operations were off’. By the time he got back to Galway, George Nicholls had already received messages that things were off.

On the Monday a man named Langley arrived from Tuam with Pearse’s order to mobilise. On Tuesday, the authorities had already rounded up Nicholls, Flanagan, Carter, Johnny Faller, Professor Steinberger, Dr Tom Walsh, and Mícheál Ó Droighneáin. During the week, many more from the county were arrested, brought to Galway, and later deported by train and by ship. Those who were not pinched were ordered by Mellows to keep out of the way for a while. John Hosty managed to do this, though his house was raided about 10 days after the Rising. A bundle of letters and the flag of the pipe band were taken, never to be seen again.

John Hosty later worked in O’Gorman’s as a printer.


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