First Account
The account below is by Brian O’Donchu, Frank Busteed’s grandson. Can anyone, especially our North American members, tell us more about Frank Busteed’s time in North America? Or give a point in the direction of where this information may be obtained? We await your replies. Thanks for your time.
FRANK BUSTEED (1898-1974)
Vice-Commandant, 6th Battalion, 1st Cork Brigade
(Commandant -Flying Column)

Frank Busteed Cork IRA Commandant

Frank Busteed was born at Kilmuraheen, Doughcloyne, Cork on 23rd Sept, 1898, but grew up in Blarney.

Frank with Friends on top of Blarney castle

Above, Frank, aged 7 on top of Blarney Castle, with school friends

He was somewhat unusual for a Flying Column Commandant in that his backround was not typical, being of mixed faith. His father Sam was Church of Ireland and of strong Unionist backround, while his mother Norah (Condon-Maher) was Catholic and of a strong Nationalist backround.

Sam died in 1900 when Frank was two years, and so he grew up in the Nationalist tradition of his mother.

However, he maintained close family ties with Protestant relations throughout the War of Independence and afterwards.

Two of his four brothers were brought up in the Unionist tradition at Kilmuraheen by his paternal grandmother -Margaret Busteed, and joined the British Army, were mentioned in dispatches during World War 1, and one (Jack) later was stationed in Blarney during the period 1919-22.

He himself claimed to be Atheist.

He joined the Fianna Eireann, and later The Irish Volunteers, joining the Blarney Company (in 1919 the company was into the 6th Battallion, 1st Cork Brigade), and in 1920 was appointed Vice Commandant of the 6th (and Commandant of the Flying Column, attached) with Jackie O‘Leary as Commandant of battalion.

Frank and I.R.A. contemporaries , including possibly Sean O Hegarty (extreme right), 1921

He was involved in many a maneuvre with the battalion and flying-column in the period 1920-22 – including the blowing-up of Blarney Barracks, the capture of Major Geoffrey Compton Smith, Dripsey Ambush as well as countless more. He was also involved in Intelligence gathering, and served as a judge in the Republican Courts from 1920-1923.
He was the first volunteer in Blarney to own a Lee Enfield rifle (see framed photo in exhibition), in 1919.

He was a well read man, and learnt Irish during the war period (regretting that it was not on the school curriculum when he attended).

Frank Busteed and Cork IRA Volunteers

He refused to accept the Treaty and continued fighting in Cork, Waterford & Limerick, eventually leaving Ireland for U.S.A. in 1924 – first to Boston, and later settling in New York.

Here he trained in the ice-cutting business, starting a company with three partners (who had also arrived in America after the Civil War.

He met his future wife in New York – Anne Marren, an English lady, whose father came from Mayo.

Wedding Day, 1926

They had seven children in all, 6 surviving (1 died an infant) – three born in USA, one in England, and 3 later in Ireland.

With friends -Long Island . New York, 1930

In 1935 Frank returned to Ireland, starting his own family business, and among other things became involved in the development of the Fianna Fail Cumans in Cork City.
In 1941 he was commissioned to the Irish Army as a Lieutenant. He remained in the army until 1946, and though recommended by his commanding officer for the rank Captain, he left to deal with family business commitments.

As a Lieutenant, Irish Army, 1941

He remained involved in politics, canvassing in local and national elections (see photo with Pres DeValera in exhibit).

Invitation to the opening of the new Cork City Hall, in 1936 (it was originally destroyed in 1920, during the British burning of Cork City)

He and his wife attended the reopening of Cork City Hall in September 1936 (burnt in 1920 during the burning of Cork City by the Auxilliaries & Black & Tans).

Frank Busteed and Cork IRA with de Valera, Cork

In the 1950′s he was appointed Manager of the Passage West Labour Exchange – retiring from this position (ironically this is where his father’s ancestors first settled in Ireland in the mid 17th century) .

In 1974 (just before his death), the book EXECUTION (based on events around The Dripsey Ambush) was published.

He featured in a number of other books on the period 1919-24.

Brian O’ Donoghue (Grandson)


Information required on the men below: following Volunteers (and buddies of Frank all) –

1-‘Sando’ Donovan
2-Humphrey Kelleher
3-Pa Murray
4-Sonny Murray
5-Jim Barrett
6-Jim Grey

And also – Sean O Hegarty, Stephen O’Neill, Charlie O’Donoghue, Tadgh O’Sullivan????


Frank Busteed –

Born 23/09/1898, Cork

of mixed -Protestant/Catholic backround.

Grew up in Blarney, Co Cork

Joined Fianna Eireann 1909/1910
Joined the Irish Volunteers in 1917

Assisted in hoisting the Tricolour on top of Blarney Castle, 1917!

Capt. of Blarney Volunteers Company, 1919

Saw two terms in jail (back to back) in 1919.

Vice Commandant of 6th Battalion, Cork No 1 Brigade, 1920
(Commandant of 6th Battalion Flying Column-1921)

He was very active in the battalion area MId -Cork/Nth Cork, Cork City during the War of Independence, in planning manuevres, in ambushes, raids on Brit. Army, intelligence gathering, and in training (and the kidnapping of the spy Mary Lindsay (Feb, 1921)),whose betrayal of an ambush near Dripsey resulted in the execution of 5 Volunteers, and in her own execution and that of her driver), the arrest of British Intelligence Officer Major G. L. Compton-Smith, in Blarney (Apr.1921), intercepting Brit. Intelligence, allegedly, the kidnapping and execution of three active undercover British Intelligence Officers, near Macroom (April, 1922), disabling of key enemy transport lines).

His backround was mixed, religiously and culturally, but he knew both sides of his family well. He grew up in his mother’s house and Nationalist traditions (his father had died when he was 2), though he regularly visited his paternal grandmother, and family, including his 2 older brothers who were brought up by her, in the Unionist tradition. (One of these brothers warned Frank of imminent arrest in 1921, resulting in his escape, while the other later gathered intelligence to assist him in apprehending their mother’s killers – in a raid on her home in March, 1921).

He had served two prison sentences in 1919 (and where he tried to learn Irish), and became Blarney Company Capt. after, and from late 1920 was regularly on active duty with the battalion, sometimes on the run with the battalion, and on his own. During this period he was a Republican Court judge, sitting with 3 others regularly, from 1920 to 22.
During the Civil War he was on the Anti Treaty side, as Commandant of his battalion was involved in many engagements and planning same, seeing action in Co. Cork, Limerick and Waterford.

Commandant of 6th Battalion, Cork No 1 Brigade, 1922

Went to U.S.A in 1924, first Boston, eventually settling in New York for 12 years, maintaining close connection with the Irish community there. He went into business, married and started a family.

After De Valera came to power in 1932 he wanted to return to Ireland, and in 1936 the family settled in Cork City. He became involved in local politics, particularly in organising the Fianna Fail cummans in the city.

In 1941 he joined the Irish Army, as Lieutenant. He was recommended for Capt. in 1943 (he did not take this up). He left in 1946, leaving to allow more time to run a family business, though remaining active in local politics, and involved with former comrades. He had a family of 6 children.

In the 1950’s he worked for local government, and retired from the position of Labour Exchange Manager in 1964.

Anne & Frank Busteed, 1964.

Frank with Tom Barry, 1960's.

Frank with Tom Barry, 1960’s.

At this time a number of his family emigrated.

Frank was an avid reader and later strongly encouraged it in his grandchildren.
He died in 1974, his wife Anne died in 1975.

He was one of the main subjects of the 1974 book Execution, by Sean O’Callaghan, and featured in the book Lady Hostage, by Tim Sheehan, and in a number of others concerned with the Volunteers, and War of independence.

Scroll written by Frank Busteed , detailing the story of his revolver


Scroll written by Frank Busteed, detailing the story of his revolver

Revolver -Webley-Fosberry


Frank Busteed IRA General Service Medals


Busteed/O’Donoghue extended family below:

By | 2017-09-13T15:09:35+00:00 April 23rd, 2012|Irish War of Independence Figures|45 Comments


  1. blamin May 5, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Hi Brian, my maiden name was Busteed and I believe my forebears came from the Mallow area of Co Cork. My great grandfather was Richard Busteed. I’m not sure if there is any connection of my family to yours, but I would be interested to find out. What I can say is that I see a strong resemblance in your Grandfather to the male side of my fathers family. I look forward to your reply.

    • setanta1 February 3, 2015 at 1:52 pm

      Hi ‘blamin’ , Apologies for long wait for reply(must have missed this originally, though have not been in the site for quite a while). There may be a connection-where was your great grandfather Richard born do you know? I think my great grandfather (Samuel Busteed, father of Frank my grandfather ) had a brother Richard but they were from the Ballinhassig and Passage West part of Co Cork(although in the family history it shows the family first settled in the Mallow area in the 1630’s and were married into the Jephson family-they later moved to the South Co Cork area and spread out into parts of West Cork too in the 18th and 19th century). My great great grandmother-Margaret Busteed(nee Bateman/Baitman) caused a stir in the late 19th century by converting to Roman Catholicism , some of her children did not(one i think was a Richard, one of Sam’s brothers) .There is also a possible connection with a branch who migrated to Belfast i think when this happened(as i’m in contact with a descendant of that branch who has a similar story in his family of this event). There is also a family connection with Busteeds of Bandon,Co. Cork with whom i am also in touch with. Let me know if any of this rings a bell!

  2. Sister Ann Horgan, RSM April 3, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    I am the daughter of Dan Horgan. I have the same picture of the three of them, Dad on the left, Joe Murphy and Frank, I would love to be in contact with you,

  3. Brian O'Donoghue March 19, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    Thanks Jack,
    Your encouragement is much appreciated.


  4. Michael Mullane March 7, 2014 at 3:22 pm


    The man in middle holding the machine gun was Joe Murphy, Killowen. He came back to Ireland and joined a monastery. Where he died approx 20 years ago.


    • Brian O'Donoghue March 19, 2014 at 10:44 pm

      Thanks Michael,

      I spoke today to a descendant of his-Angela Murphy.

      I had someinformation already, but its good to get further clrification…..was the 3rdman in photo-Dan Horgan, would you know?



  5. Edel Tarrant February 23, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Does anyone have any information on Thomas O’Brien who took part in the Dripsey ambush and was executed onth 29/2/1921. He is my great gran-uncle and I would like to know a bit about him.

  6. tomo donoghue November 27, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    I am looking for information on Charlie o Donoghue who lived in pickets lane off bandon road was he involved in the troubles I think he went to America in 1926 he had a brother tommy who was my father

  7. tomo donoghue July 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    I am looking for info on Charlie odonoghue who was born in pickets lane off bandon road I think he went to America in 1926

  8. Ann Naughton June 20, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    Hi, check out “cork moon car” on internet, and statement on one of sites – republicof cork, which states that it was your grandfather who was involved in the incident at Cobh.
    The car was sitting on my family’s land for years, until the 1980s when someone asked my mum if they could take it away. She agreed because she thought it would be used in local history, and very much regretted this later, because nobody ever came back to tell her what happened to the car, non acknowledged her generosity in parting with the car.
    She is departed now herself, but I did write to the restoration company to ask them for a recent history of the car.
    Anyway, best wishes.
    Ann Naughton

    • Brian O'Donoghue March 19, 2014 at 10:35 pm

      Thanks Ann,

      I heard the story, and saw an article (with photos) of the car and the restoration.

      Pardon my extremely late reply……


    • Brian O'Donoghue March 27, 2014 at 6:08 pm

      Hello again Ann,

      I got further details on the ‘moon car’ from a post on a post from Jim Morrish, but had also seen the Examiner article….fascinating stuff!

      Just wonder if you knew where it can now be seen?



  9. Martin Fosberry February 25, 2013 at 2:36 am

    The Webley-Fosbery revolver traces back to my English cousins, however
    I am descended from the Fosberry’s of county Limerick. My great-grandmother
    was Mary Ann Mulcahy. Great history.

    • Brian O'Donoghue May 13, 2013 at 6:59 pm


    • Brian O'Donoghue March 19, 2014 at 10:39 pm

      Thanks Martin,

      Apologies for very late reply, that’s very interesting.

      Frank’s is now in The Cork Public Museum.

  10. Ian Spillane February 9, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Is there any further information on the revolver and from whom it was taken?

    • Brian O'Donoghue February 19, 2013 at 10:53 pm

      In the scroll it refers to’..this gun …was taken by me …from a British Major 1920..’

      It could be that of -Major Geoffrey Lee Compton Smith who was arrested by Frank Busteed…but in April 1921 ( not 1920).
      Possibly a ‘typo’ , but can’t be certain.
      It would seem a likely possibility though.

      • Brian O'Donoghue March 19, 2014 at 10:46 pm

        I’m beginning to think now Ian …that it is equally possible it was not Compton Smiths , as a line i read in Frank’s O Malley statement indicates he had it i fact in 1920.

  11. Brian Wickham February 7, 2013 at 3:49 am

    Re: Inquiry on “Sando” Donovan.

    He was Daniel “Sandow” Donovan. He was nicknamed “Sandow” possibly for his size, or strength, or maybe because his friends chided him for a bodybuilding regimen. I really don’t know the origin of that nickname but it stuck. The original Sandow was famous in Britain and the U.S. for feats of strength and particularly for his ability to flex his well developed muscles. There is an Edison film of him on YouTube.

    My father, Michael Wickham cites Dan “Sandow” Donovan, of Mallow, as a corroborating witness to several events in his 1935 application for a service certificate.

    Brian Wickham

    • Brian O'Donoghue March 19, 2014 at 10:40 pm

      Thanks Brian,

      A year later i get to this!

      Interesting background to the name.


      • Brian O'Donoghue March 19, 2014 at 10:42 pm

        I wonder would you know did ‘Sando ‘ever leave an O Malley or other statement, maybe Pension Board even ?



  12. FRANCIS LANE February 6, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    The Fosberry. Have not seen one of them since the mid 60s. Fired one for a number of years. .455 The only auto revolver I ever had the pleasure to fire. It was never issued to Officers. He would have purchased it himself or received it as a present from his family. It was never liked in Flanders. Mud got into the groves on the cylinder. resulting in the gun not firing . enjoyed the artical

    • Brian O'Donoghue March 19, 2014 at 10:49 pm

      Interesting, i think they were originally designed in 1904?

  13. myles mac evilly January 31, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    What a generation of Irishmen ! Wonderful to read this story .

    In passing i am seeking details of my fathers time in New York which would be about the same time as Frank Busteed . He was Jerry Mac Evilly , and tho coming from Mayo fought with Conn Leddys unit , in Cork No 2 brigade . After being interned in HarePark , the Curragh in the Civil War he emigrated t0 America soon afterwards . Sadly i have no details of his time there . He returned to Ireland in the early 1930s and died in 1945 .

    • Brian O'Donoghue May 13, 2013 at 6:57 pm


      I haven’t been in the site for a while, i may have replied before -but if not….i have tried finding out more on my grandfather -Frank Busteed’s time in USA but so far -nothing much I’m afraid, apart from family contacts.
      If i come across anything pertaining to your father-i’ll let you know.


  14. Brian O'Donoghue January 23, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    Regarding Frank’s relationship with DEV….no actually it was not strained , as far as i know —he acted as bodyguard to Dev whenever he visited Cork(see photo in main account of one such occasion -1948 Election)

  15. Brian O'Donoghue January 23, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    I think you might be confusing him with someone else there John, i heard that old story years ago,

  16. Michael Talty November 24, 2012 at 1:45 am

    My great-grandmother was Mary Condon, whom I just discovered was Frank’s aunt (his mother’s sister). I live near Boston, MA, USA. My great grandmother emigrated in the 1880’s after she was a school teacher in Cork. My family has some limited information on Frank’s time in the States. It seems that he was in contact with his aunt during his time here. My older relatives who spoke of Frank have passed away but I remember some of their accounts. I would also like to learn more about the Condons and the Busteeds (who are my cousins).

    • Brian O'Donoghue January 23, 2013 at 8:24 pm


      I’m Franks grandson, and would very much like to make contact with you.
      I have a lot of information , and i believe you have some on frank’s time in USA.

      Best wishes ,


      • Kevin O'Callaghan February 25, 2013 at 2:29 pm

        My name is kevin O’Callaghan and I am the son of Sean O’Callaghan who wrote ‘Execution’ in 1974 which was about Frank Busteeds’ involement in the kidnapping and execution of Mary Lindsay who had informed the British military about the Dripsey ambush in January 1921. I have just completed a screenplay based on the incident and would like to contact anybody who has any further information on the time and the characters involved

        • Brian O'Donoghue March 19, 2014 at 10:52 pm

          Don’t know if i formally replied to you, Kevin…..thanks for post, talk soon


    • Anne O'Donoghue January 23, 2013 at 8:39 pm

      Michael – my brother Brian O’Donoghue (Frank Busteed’s nephew) is writing the book on Grandad and Brian would love to hear from you. His e-mail:
      I am his sister living in Washington, DC.
      This is a fascinating story so no doubt Brian will be very excited to hear from you. Anne O’Donoghue, Granddaughter of Frank Busteed.

      • Brian O'Donoghue March 19, 2014 at 11:11 pm

        Thanks Anne,

        You are responsible you know for linking Mike Talty and myself!
        And how fortunate.


  17. Tommy Mooney September 16, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Frank Busteed was a totally committed Republican in the mould of the men of 1916 who gave their lives for their beliefs. We cannot attempt to measure the committment of such people in terms of the kind of politics that we see all around us presently, we can only try to understand .
    An excellent article Brian, I am proud to be a friend.

    • Brian O'Donoghue January 23, 2013 at 8:25 pm

      Many thanks Tommy, was away and have only now got to see these comments.

    • Brian O'Donoghue March 19, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      Hi again Tommy,

      Not long back from my trip, and have more information -from the American side at last!

      Will be in touch.


  18. Jim Morrish August 4, 2012 at 10:33 am

    i see you’re looking for info on Pa Murray. He’d have been first cousin with my Mum, who was the daughter of Fred Murray (Pa’s uncle)

    i found this just last mon

    just read that Pa Murray (my mum’s 1st cousin) met Stalin during an effort by the i.r.a. to get arms off the commies in 1925


    apparently he died in terenure in 1968, 4 years after tim pat coogan interviewed him for his book on the i.r.a.

  19. Joe Healy April 26, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    Great article.

    • Brian O'Donoghue March 19, 2014 at 10:56 pm

      Thanks Joe!


  20. Jack Lane April 25, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Thanks, Brian.

    A long overdue account of Frank’s career. Keep going.


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