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LETTER: Memory of Hourihan has been insulted

August 5th, 2017 5:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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SIR – The tone and content of Eve Morrison's letter (27 July: Was Dan Hourihan at KIlmichael?) is disappointing and insulting.  I reconstructed the Kilmichael ambush in Cork's Revolutionary Dead (June 2017) and read through Dan Hourihan's Military Service Pensions Collection file many times. I know exactly what it contains. Far more seriously, she insults the memory of Dan Hourihan whose only ‘crime' was to fight an empire that had conquered and denuded a quarter of the globe. 

Hourihan fought at Kilmichael. Nobody in the 3rd Brigade, including other Kilmichael veterans, said otherwise. He is named in the first list of participants in December 1938 and in James ‘Spud' Murphy's September 1957 list in his Bureau of Military History statement. 

In his application, witnessed on 21 February 1935 (P 6), Hourihan states he fought in ten named military actions including Kilmichael. Some of these were later questioned. Kilmichael was not. In an appendix he states that he took part in the ‘principal engagements with the 3rd Brigade Flying Column'. He was supported by Liam Deasy and Tom Hales. His sworn evidence to the MSPC referees on 5 March 1935 states he was called up to reinforce the column on the morning of Kilmichael. He was awarded a pension from April 1920 but not before. 

On 8 December 1937, Hourihan appealed his award and submitted extra ‘evidence which was not available at [his] original hearing'. The MSPC referee agreed the 1937 evidence was ‘additional' on 19 December 1940. The Minister for Defence formally directed a review on 21 February 1941. Flor Begley and Paddy O'Brien (a Kilmichael veteran) confirmed some of the additional evidence on 8 August 1942.  Dr Morrison's single piece of evidence makes no mention of Hourihan fighting at Kilmichael because this was not ‘additional information'. He simply adds to his 1935 evidence that he was there. He was asked by Tom Barry ‘on the eve of Kilmichael' to organise and manage the billets at Granure and the scouts. After he fought at Kilmichael he returned to Granure where his company guarded and fed the men. His file shows that he often referred to work he delegated to the 75 strong Ballinacarriga company in the first person so this is not unusual or unique.

It is easy to fall into the historical pothole created by Hourihan's phrasing. Perhaps this is the case with Dr. Morrison.  I hope she is not planning to question his participation in order to dismiss his evidence of a ‘false surrender' in Meda Ryan's biography of Tom Barry in yet another tired defence of Peter Hart. If that is the plan, it is a bad one. The entirety of the evidence shows Dan Hourihan fought at Kilmichael. Nobody thought otherwise, including himself, until this letter from Eve Morrison.

Barry Keane 

Glendalough Park 

Cork 

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