Buncrana lady in Mountjoy jail

 

On 9 June 1923, the newspaper ÉIRE THE IRISH NATION published a letter from an unnamed Buncrana lady who complained bitterly about conditions in Mountjoy jail, Dublin. The banner headline ran BRUTALITY TO WOMEN IN BUNCRANA.

Her jailers were not British soldiers but officers of the newly-established Irish Free State, (referred to as Staters who were pro-Treaty) in the final days of the Civil War. At the time of writing, her parents lived in Buncrana but she had been released and was living in the town.  Below, some extracts are quoted:

I have no longer permission to get letters or parcels or newspapers. This right was denied me because I accused the Staters of the murder of poor Charlie Daly and his comrades. Times have changed for the worse in the last fortnight. We have been changed to other quarters – a terrible place. We sent up a protest against having to lie on planks only six inches off the cement floor. Instead our protest went unheeded. Fifty Slavers were marched up and took positions outside our cells, which were barricaded. We delivered a free address, accusing them of being guilty of the murder of Charlie Daly for the sake of a miserable pittance a week and called on them to leave off their English uniforms. After a while, my cell door was burst in. Four Creeslough girls and myself were attacked and dragged unmercifully out. I was last. The Staters were angry at hearing the bitter truth…..Well I got badly beaten. We were slammed into the place and given wet bed clothing………

Other letters support her story. Similar conditions obtained in Kilmainham jail. Names are not given but there are references to a Miss MacDermott and a Mrs. Barrett in related letters. The lady who wrote the letter above may have been a member of Cumann na mBan in Buncrana but she may have joined in another town. Any help in identifying the lady would be welcome. She belonged to an anti-Treaty family.

Seán Beattie 31/12/2016

 

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Buncrana lady in Mountjoy jail

  1. Not at all surprised to read this. Brutality seems to have been the norm in those days. Just finished “After the Rising ” by Seán Enright. It covers the aftermath of 1916 from a legal point of view. Well worth a read.It deals with the period up to The Treaty.The ruthlessness of both sides was an eye opener to me.

  2. Hello Sean – that is very interesting about the Buncrana lady. It is almost certainly not the same lady but I have seen a reference to a Miss Eithne Coyle from somewhere in Donegal, a young girl from an anti-treaty family, who was involved in a hunger strike in mountjoy in 1923 – again many modern parallels!

    regards

    raymond

    ________________________________

    • Raymond
      Eithne Coyle was definitely involved at some stage. I think she lived in Falcarragh and was married to a Moville man (whose family I cannot trace)
      Iam hoping someone in Buncrana will reply but as we know 1923 is as long time ago and memories are short.
      Regards, Sean

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s