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Book tells of IRA killing of Bridget Noble from Beara

April 23rd, 2021 7:05 AM

By Jackie Keogh

Sean Boyne, the author of the Execution of Bridge Noble.

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ONE hundred years ago, Bridget Noble from Ardgroom, was abducted, held prisoner, and disappeared, on March 4th.

The grisly story The Execution of Bridget Noble: The Missing Woman of the Beara Peninsula Troubles is outlined in a new book by Dublin-based author, Sean Boyne.

Sean, a retired journalist and a former political correspondent with The Sunday World, self-published the e-book on Amazon at the start of year.

Sales have been brisk because there is a lot of interest in the historical aspect of the story, as well the mysterious disappearance of Bridget Noble.

‘It was a very sensitive topic because the local IRA went against one of its own rules, precluding the execution of women,’ said Sean.

‘It went against the ideals of chivalry, too, because to put a woman to death would have been regarded as breaking a taboo.’

Bridget Noble was one of only two women known to have been disappeared by the IRA during the Irish Troubles of the early 1920s.

It is also the story of the quest by her Scots-born husband, Alexander Noble, to find out what happened her.

Alexander came from a notable seafaring family in Fraserburgh and was a cooper by trade.

He was in England when Bridget was abducted in March 1921 on a lonely road near her home in Ardgroom, on Ireland’s idyllic Beara peninsula in West Cork.

Bridget, who was said to have been a naïve, unsophisticated woman, had offended the IRA by making visits to the police station in Castletownbere and by an apparent friendship with a local police sergeant.

After she came home from hospital a group of IRA men carried out a punishment attack in which her hair was forcibly shorn. A woman of courage who was inclined to stand up for herself, Mrs Noble gave the RIC the names of the men she accused of the attack, and one was arrested and got six months.

This seems to have been the main reason she was abducted and killed, and her remains secretly disposed of.

In his quest for information about the fate of his wife, Alexander corresponded with Irish leader Éamon de Valera, stating bitterly, ‘It is not clear work to take away my lone defenceless wife.’

The book details the sequence of events in the saga, and identifies some of those involved in the action taken against Mrs Noble.

The book also covers the punishment of women by both sides during the revolutionary period and the issue of the Disappeared, as well as the Troubles on the Beara Peninsula, and the role of local men in Tom Barry’s Flying Column.

The author carried out extensive archival research and also talked to local Beara people.

He found the ruins of Bridget Noble’s cottage, the ruined house in a remote valley where she was held prisoner, and the boreen where locals heard her crying out for help as she was being taken away to her death.

An IRA man alleged to have executed Mrs Noble suffered injuries when beaten by Free State forces during the Irish Civil War, and died shortly after that conflict, in 1924.

A veil of secrecy was drawn over the fate of Bridget Noble at the time, and the men primarily involved in the action taken against her made no public comment about her fate.

It is only now that the full story is being told.

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