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 was born at Kilmuraheen, Doughcloyne, Cork on 23rd September, 1898, but grew up in Blarney.
He was somewhat unusual for a Flying Column Commandant in that his background was not typical, being of mixed faith. His father Sam was Church of Ireland and of strong Unionist background, while his mother Norah (Condon-Maher) was Catholic and of a strong Nationalist background.
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 thee 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.
He was involved in many a manoeuvre 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 1920-923.
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).
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. They had seven children in all, 6 surviving (1 died an infant) – three born in USA, one in England, and 3 later in Ireland.
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 committments.
He remained involved in politics, canvassing in local and national elections (see photo with Pres DeValera in exhibit).
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).
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)