On 20 January 1923, six months into the civil war, four anti-treaty IRA Volunteers from Galway – Martin J. Burke (25), Hubert Collins (23), Stephen Joyce (29), and Michael Walsh (26) – were executed at Athlone Barracks, having been found guilty by a Free State Military Court of the unlawful possession of arms and ammunition.
In this podcast, historian and author, Cormac Ó Comhraí talks about the Civil War in Galway and the executions which followed at Athlone Barracks. The talk was recorded at Galway City Museum on Saturday 21 January 2023 as part of Galway City Museum’s programme of events supported by Galway City Council.
Listen and enjoy!
The Galway Civil War Exhibition
The Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed on 6 December 1921, offered limited independence within the British Empire to 26 Irish counties – the Irish Free State – rather than the desired Irish Republic. As a result, the Irish republican movement split between supporters and opponents of the Treaty, Free Staters and Republicans, triggering a civil war that lasted from 28 June 1922 to 24 May 1923. Known in Irish as Cogadh na gCarad (war of friends), the conflict began without a formal declaration of war, ended without settlement, caused around 1,500 deaths, and left the Free State bitterly divided and on the verge of bankruptcy.
In December 1922, Liam Mellows and three other Republican leaders were executed in reprisal for an attack on politicians Pádraic Ó Máille and Seán Hales. Veterans of the Easter Rising in Galway, both Mellows and Ó Máille had been elected as Sinn Féin MPs for Galway in 1918.
For more on this Galway civil war story see the new War of Friends exhibition and to learn more about Galway’s revolutionary period see Revolution in Galway, 1913-23.