Military Service Pension archive brings two more local patriots back into memory

COMMEMORATING events of the Decade of Centenaries was made very difficult this last twelve months and many high-profile events have had to be cancelled or relegated to the realms of virtual remembrance via Zoom, which is far from satisfactory.

Families of those involved in the War of Independence are grateful and delighted to have their forefathers’ sacrifices remembered and documented. We here in The Tuam Herald are always more than happy to share family stories from that era.

A turbulent and violent chapter that was closed very abruptly with the end of the Civil War in May 1923 and the subsequent partition of the country left many participants bitter and angry. They felt their voices were silenced and their future did not lie in a divided Republic.

Emigration was the solution for a huge number of volunteers dissatisfied with the outcome. Others thought it best to get on with things, choosing never to speak about their contribution. These were ordinary men and women who were not household names but whose involvement had such an impact that it led to the foundation of a new independent State.

Senior Archivist Caitriona Crowe recently commented that the 1913-23 period in Ireland is one of the best documented revolutionary histories of any country.

This is largely due to the efforts of the newly established Free State, a country with few resources and a damaged economy that allocated hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayer’s money to former IRA veterans.

Many of these veterans were young men and women still in their twenties. The digitisation and availability of the military archives have allowed families to discover forgotten and unheard stories and prompted an upsurge in local research.

Each new release of documents from the Military Service Pension applications has unearthed a new and exciting treasure trove of detail that adds to our knowledge of the period. It also allows us a very personal insight into the lives of men and women who very quietly did their country some service but chose not to speak about it. The tenth release of files in May this year featured two applications from Tuam people.

Postmaster Martin J Mannion and his wife Mary Farrell were two such people whose service would go unnoticed if such files were not released.

Read more of this story in this week's edition of The Tuam Herald, on sale in shops and online