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Hello

This is my first post on this wonderful site and so very nervous to be in the midst of such expertise and experience, so advance apologies for my incompetencies.

I am really sorry if this is not the right place to ask but I am desperately seeking help as I unravel my grandfathers involvement in Easter 1916 and would be most grateful if anyone could offer clarification or even direction as I try and resolve some questions.

Denis Byrne (c1900-1940) was active with the Irish Citizens Army in Easter week and was awarded the 1916 medal and war of independence medal with bar (both officially numbered and with his name inscribed). I have the medals which have been passed on to me by my father, Denis's only son. Neither is boxed but they are wrapped in a bloodstained green and gold armband (not sure where this is from)

1. The family have one photgraph of Denis and Mary from this period (not dated). Is anyone able to identify the uniforms of both Denis and Mary. There appear to be no records of Marys involvement in Cum am mBann but it is very similiar. (She turned this into clothes for their babies soon after). The family have said they believe Denis wa sin the free State Army, but his pension record does not indicate this (left blank)

2. His pension application records Denis's action during the week. Asked 'District or Districts in which active service was rendered?' Denis responds "St.Stephens Green, Littles Licenced Premises at Cuffe street, + W& R Jacobs". The Department of Defence correspondance I had when they forwarded a copy of the application confirms this and adds he was "mobilised on Easter Sunday 1916 to Liberty Hall and he remained there that night. On Monday he was in a party that marched to St.Stephens Green. They were in trenches there until Monday evening when they came out Cuffe street gate and went into Littles public house.They left Littles on Thursday morning and went to Jacobs biscuit factory. Denis Byrne was in Jacobs up to the surrender on 30th April 1916. He escapred capture and he was on the run for 4 to 5 months after that".

a) I can't find anything about Littles in the official histories I've looked at. It is mentioned as a footnote in Charles Townshend's Easter 1916; The Irish Rebellion (Penguin, 2006) as the pub at the corner of Cuffe Street occupied by ICA men where one witness thought that the order to withdraw 'seemed strange'. The reference is to the Witness Statement BMH WS 907 in the Irish Military Archives by Laurence Nugent. And there is a record in Slaters Trades directory 1894 of a Philip Little, Vintners and Public House keeper at 106 St.Stephens Green West. Does anyone know where I could find any detail related to the action at Littles?

b) And why would Denis (as a boy of 15/16) have gone on the run for so long afterwards?

3. As far as I am aware, he is not on the roll of honour? Might there be a reason for this?

4. Is there any relevance to why Denis waited until 1935 before making his pension application?

5. Following a posting on Rootsweb there appears to be no record of a Denis Byrne in the " North Dublin Easter 1916" ICA listing, although there is a Denis 'Bryan'. I wondered if the surname may have been transcribed incorrectly? Is there any way of finding a copy of the listing to clarify?

I would value and be so appreciative of any help, and once again, apologies if I have posted incorrectly on the site.

Thankyou

Denis

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Hello tommobecket and welcome to the forum,

Sadly i cannot add further research to what Irish1916 has already told you about the medals etc.

However what you have already is an amazing history of Denis Byrne. I am sure there are many collectors and families who don't have half the information you have on their medals, well done for your research and hard work.

Could his name have been spelt in the Irish language as Donnacha O'Broin?

Did he ever live overseas, UK or USA? this might explain why he never applied for the pension until 1935. I have never (to date) seen a pension file or application from the original Pensions Act of 1924, most were from the later 1930s, 40s and 50s. I also wonder how the Minister of Defence actually contacted those persons in 1924 bearing in mind many fled overseas. Were there notices in the newspapers? word of mouth? I guess by the 1940s it was easier to publish adverts advising veterans of pensions etc.

Anyway, good luck with your research and keep posting any updates as i am sure we will all be interested in developments.

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Thankyou Irishmedals, much appreciated - irish1916 has been really helpful, so a great bunch of lads and its really motivated me to explore more. I'd be really interested to hear your views on why Denis only recorded his service in his pension as with the "Irish Citizen Army (I.R.A)" finishing in February 1918 and said nothing about his action during the following war given he has the War of Independence medal with bar, indicating active service. I've just spoken to his daughter pushing her (again) for any morsel of information. I already had one anecdote from the oldest daughter a few years ago, so, After 5 years trying, this is what I've got:-

One sister tells of being told by Mary how Denis and Mary were chased by soldiers (or black and tan, not sure) and ran into in a funeral parlour to hide. Mary quickly ran to the coffin and placed their gun under the body of the deceased and they slipped into the congregation. The soldiers ran into the funeral parlour and seeing the solemn group they were amongst, slowed and quietly began searching the men and women. Finding nothing they left. Denis and Mary collected the gun, thanked their fellow Dubliners and moved on.

I often wonder why Mary had the gun. I asked another of the sisters did her mother ever speak about Easter or the war (her father died when she was 7 years old so she has few memories of him. This is what she told me ...

"Mammy never talked about it, ever. I remember I asked her once and she said ?there is still too much hatred and bitterness?. I kept asking her and she sat me down and told me of the time when her and Denis were coming home from a meeting and a women ran past chased by black and tan soldiers. Mammy had Denis's gun hidden in her knickers and Daddy dragged her into a shop doorway to hide. They saw the woman put a baby she was carrying into an ash can (a bin?). 'As the soldiers ran past they threw a grenade into the ash can, and carried on chasing the woman. The grenade exploded. That's why we don't talk about it anymore'. I never asked her again and that's all I know".

Told together, they are highly dramatic, but these stories were very reluctantly offered, and told with sadness and solemnity. I guess this reflects the family's history of not talking about the conflict for so many years. Might there be any documentary evidence for the second incident.

We have strong detail from pension application, but are there any sources you could point to where we might find out more about Denis and Marys active service in the war of independence?

many thanks

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The armband is what was worn by 1916 veterans before the medal was instituted in 1941. Can you show a photo of the reverse of the medals so we can see the numbering and naming. Numbered medals were either awards where the recipient had died before 1941 or else late applications from next of kin. Seeing the number might help determine which is the case here.

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The armband is what was worn by 1916 veterans before the medal was instituted in 1941. Can you show a photo of the reverse of the medals so we can see the numbering and naming. Numbered medals were either awards where the recipient had died before 1941 or else late applications from next of kin. Seeing the number might help determine which is the case here.

Hello Paul

I'm really sorry, but a bit nervous about posting details of number as children still alive and it was recommended not to do so given possibility of this being used for fakes. Denis died in 1940 and we know medals were received posthumously. 1916 is above 86 and below 150, but I imagine this is due to alphabetical reasoning. War of Independence medal is above 500 and below 600. (both named and printed in upper case). I hope thats OK and trust this is not being 'unhelpful'. However, I would really value your opinion to any of the above questions, especially a) the 'Littles' reference and b) particularly given he did (very deliberately it appears) not record any service post March 1917 on his pension application but received award for active service between 1918-1921?

thankyou

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