By Michael McKenna mckennam@gmail.com

Many thanks to Michael McKenna for contributing this article.

CORONERS INQUEST FILES
THE DEATH OF NOEL LEMASS

Inquest of Noel Lemass October 1923
National Archives 1B-93-11A Page 2

The Winter Sleep of Captain Lemass
1923
The life of the country
Hardened against you
Like frost, and a new front
Opened—brother against brother,
Choice against choice,
Disputing the high ground. Your eyes,
Blindfolded, beheld the ideal State
As the real one steadied itself
To annihilate you.
How to survive it, the force of exclusion,
The freezing out of the soul
At the site of its own execution?
In the high cold, in the light snow
Of the Dublin mountains, a fox
Made its own tracks
And vanished ….
A single shot—
A hundred years of travelling echoes,
Family history, unmarked plots.

Harry Clifton 2012


Inquest of Noel Lemass October 1923
National Archives 1B-93-11A Page 3
Noel Lemass Inquest 1923

Contents
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………3

Dr. J.P. Brennan – Coroner ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 4
Captain Noel Lemass, Capel Street, Dublin ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 5
The Inquest of Noel Lemass ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 9
Letter from Dept. of Home Affairs to Dr. Brennan ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 10
Letter from Dr. Brennan to Dept. of Home Affairs ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 11
Letter from Dept of Home Affairs to Dr. Brennan ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 12
Letter from Dept of Home Affairs to Dr. Brennan ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 13
Testimony of John Lemass ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 14
Testimony of Sgt. Thomas Clarke ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 16
Testimony of Sgt. John O’Leary ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 16
Testimony of Sgt. Patrick Glynn ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 17
Testimony of Const. Robert Rutherford ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 18
Testimony of Raymond Wall ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 18
Testimony of Dr. Henry Goulding ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 19
Testimony of Dr. W.D. O’Kelly ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 20
Testimony of James A O’Dea ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 21
Testimony of Harry [or Henry] Thunder ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 22
Testimony of John J. Murphy ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 22
Testimony of John Devine ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 23
Further Testimony of John Lemass ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 26
Testimony of Richard Broderick Snr. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 26
Testimony of Kathleen Broderick ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 27
Testimony of Richard Broderick Jnr. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 27
Testimony of Christopher Tuite ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 29
Testimony of Margaret McEntee ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 32
Testimony of Matthew Kearnes ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 32
Testimony of George Hickey ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 33
Testimony of Comdt. William O’Reilly ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 33
Jury Notes ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 34
Jury Votes ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 35
Inquest Verdict ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 36
Cultural Memory in Mercier and Camier: The Fate of Noel Lemass ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 37

Inquest of Noel Lemass October 1923
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Dr. J.P. Brennan – Coroner

Joseph Patrick Brennan (10 September 1889 – 4 May 1968) was an Irish Clann na Poblachta politician and medical doctor.

Dr J.P. Brennan

Dr J.P. Brennan

He was born in 1889 in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, U.S. He was the son of Patrick Brennan and Julia O’Connor who married in Boston in 1888. He moved back from the US to his mother’s native Knocknagoshel, County Kerry at around the age of six years. His father had received communication from his brothers in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia regarding the Gold Rush and decided to join them in Australia and made his fortune with his brothers in the drapery business. The Brennan Building still stands today in Hannan Street, Kalgoorlie. On his father’s return to Ireland in either 1908 or 1912 he brought an estate called Delbrook Park in Dublin.

He was educated at Blackrock College and Rockwell College. He qualified as a doctor in 1917. He married Anne Elizabeth Bulloch in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1914. He entered the British Army in 1917 as a Medical officer serving in Egypt and Turkey.

He returned to Ireland around 1918 and became a General practitioner in Blackrock, County Dublin. He also became Coroner for South County Dublin. Brennan was also involved in the Republican movement sometime in 1918. He was Head of Medical Services during the Irish Civil War. During the civil war, a group of insurgents that included Brennan occupied part of the Gresham Hotel in O’Connell Street and were holding out against the Free State army. Their position became untenable and the group decided to surrender. The surrender was underway but Cathal Brugha refused to surrender himself came out brandishing a revolver and was shot by the Free State troops. Brennan attended his wounds but Brugha died two days later.

He was Vice President of the Irish Christian Front which held its inaugural meeting at the Mansion House, Dublin on 22 August 1936. The Irish Independent invited the formation of a committee to make a decision to support pro-Franco citizens of Spain in their war effort. Support was also given by the Catholic Church.

Brennan was a founding member of Clann na Poblachta. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1948 general election as a Clann na Poblachta Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown constituency.1 He stood as a Labour Party candidate at the 1951 general election but was not re-elected. He also stood unsuccessfully as a Labour Party candidate at the 1954 general election.2

He presided over the International Congress of Catholic Doctors which took place at University College Dublin in 1954. He was President of the Irish Bridge Union in 1955. He was elected as the first President of the Medico Legal Society of Ireland in 1956.
He died in 1968 at the age of 78 and is buried at Deansgrange Cemetery in Dublin.

1 “Mr. Joseph Brennan”. Oireachtas Members Database.
2 “Joseph Brennan”. ElectionsIreland.org.

Inquest of Noel Lemass October 1923
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Noel Lemass was a member of the 3rd Battalion, Dublin Brigade. He along with his younger brother Sean (later Taoiseach) took part in the Easter Rising where he fought at the GPO. He was employed as an Engineer in Dublin Corporation. When the Civil War broke out both he and his brother took the Anti-Treaty side and both fought together at the Four Courts.

After the fall of the Courts Noel was taken prisoner. Sean managed to escape with a number of other Volunteers but Noel was imprisoned. However he managed to escape from captivity and made his way to England. He returned to Ireland in the summer of 1923 when the cease-fire had been declared. Noel Lemass went back to his former employers at the Corporation, hoping to resume his work there. He offered to write a letter stating that he would not be involved in any further activities against the Government.

He was kidnapped in broad daylight on 3rd July 1923 and his body was discovered in October 1923 in the Dublin Mountains. He was 26 years old at the time of his death. He is buried in Glasnevin cemetery.

Figure 1: Capt. Noel Lemass
Inquest of Noel Lemass October 1923
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The Murder Gangs

Leitrim Observer 20/10/1923

The fate of Mr. Noel Lemass, who disappeared in the streets of Dublin three months ago, has now been definitely established. On Friday night his decomposed body was found on the side of the Featherbed Mountain, twenty yards from the Glencree Road. The place is six miles from the Rathfarnham Tramway Terminus and is situated on one of the most sparsely populated districts in the County Dublin.

An anonymous communication, was, it is stated, sent to the Phoenix Park Depot, as a result of which Civic Guards from Headquarters were sent to the district. The guards were joined by other forces from Rathfarnham Station, and a search of the mountain was begun. About 6 o’clock one of the men found the decomposed remains of a human being lying in a dry ditch.

The body was clothed in a dark tweed suit, light shirt, silk socks, spats and a knitted tie. The pockets contained a Rosary beads, a watch-glass, a rimless glass, a tobacco pouch and an empty cigarette case. The trousers’ pockets were turned inside out, as if they had been rifled.

There was what appeared to be an entrance bullet wound on the left temple, and the top of the skull was broken, suggesting an exit wound.

On hearing of the discovery Mr. Lemass, 2 Capel Street, the father of Noel Lemass, drove with his wife and members of the Civic Guard to the mountains. He was able to identify the remains as those of his son who had been missing since July 3rd. The body was taken to Rathmines Morgue, where an inquest is being held…

An account of his disappearance was supplied to his parents by Mr. John Devine, Superintendent of City Cleansing, who was with him when he was taken away. According to the statement the two men were passing a shop nearly opposite Drury Street when Mr. Devine was seized , brom behind by a low sized man, who demanded who he was. He turned to get a view of what was happening but his glasses were pulled off by the man and he was asked to go down Exchequer Street. He did not see any other men but was conscious of the fact that Mr. Lemass had been seized by some other man. Mr. Devine was then brought through a number of streets but his captor said he merely wished to examine his papers. When the examination had taken place he was asked if he knew many people in Dublin. Mr. Devine replied that, owing to the nature of his business, he was known all over Dublin. He was told then to put up his papers and to keep quiet about the matter…

 

The Inquest

A document threatening him with death was said to have been received by a witness who gave evidence at the coroner’s inquiry in Rathmines on Monday into the death of Mr. Lemass, who was a member of a well-known Dublin family.

The witness said that on Saturday evening he received a summons to a military inquiry to be held on Monday regarding Mr. Lemass’s death. At 2 o’clock on Sunday morning four men called at his house, and when he refused to admit them, kicked at the door and broke a pane of glass in the window.

At day-break his wife found a document which read :-

(a) Owing to your lying statements one of our members has been placed under arrest. This order is served on you in order that you may know the position. Take note that:-

(b) You have been sentenced to death for making statements likely to cause disaffection among our forces:

Inquest of Noel Lemass October 1923
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(c) You will attend forthwith at Military Headquarters, Dublin and deny absolutely that ________3 even stated to you that he shot the late lamented Mr. Lemass.
If you or any other person states that the officer mentioned had anything to do with the execution of Lemass, they will be dealt with as at (a),

If you fail to carry out these instructions we will set about inflicting the same sentence on you without fail. Death sentence will be commuted and you are a free man if you carry out the instructions at (b). Lemass is gone, and the earlier he is forgotten the better. Take due care that you do not meet the same fate.

(Signed)

Fifty Members of the Old IRA

 

Brutal Murder

Only evidence of identification was taken, the coroner stating that he had received a letter from the Ministry of Home Affairs suggesting that a post mortem examination should be made. The deceased’s father said he identified the body by the clothes. There was no flesh on the face.

Addressing the jury, Dr. Brennan said it was a sad thing to hold an inquest at any time, but the present was a doubly sad one. He hoped the circumstances would be fully narrated in evidence and it would be the business of the inquiry to find out, if possible, who killed Noel Lemass. The deceased had been taken from the streets of Dublin on 3rd July last, and certainly brutally murdered somewhere. It would appear that his teeth had been brutally forced from his jaws, and some hair was lying beside him, suggesting something the most pitiless savage would be ashamed of. He hoped that when the jurors took the oath, they would recognise what it meant, and that they would bring in a verdict according to the evidence…

 

Noel Lemass Verdict

Freeman’s Journal 24/10/1923

The inquiry into the circumstances of the death of Mr. Noel Lemass concluded yesterday, when the jury returned a verdict agreeing that the remains were those of Noel Lemass, and that he was brutally and wilfully murdered, and that they had not sufficient evidence to satisfy them who the actual perpetrator was.

Arising out of the inquiry the jury are convinced that armed forces of the State have been implicated with the removal and disappearance of Noel Lemass from the streets of Dublin, and they demanded of the Government a judicial enquiry on the evidence produced at the inquest.

3 The name of Captain J. Murray was withheld by the court.
Inquest of Noel Lemass October 1923
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Government and Late Mr. Lemass

Irish Independent 13/12/1923

The Minister for Home Affairs informed Mr. Davin yesterday that the inquest in the case of the late Mr. Noel Lemass was itself a judicial inquiry and there was no need for any further inquiry of the kind suggested. If suggested evidence was forthcoming to connect any individuals with the crime, proceedings would be instituted. The opinion of the jury that the armed forces of the State were implicated in the removal of Mr. Lemass from the streets was entirely unsupported by the evidence.

Inquest of Noel Lemass October 1923
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The Inquest of Noel Lemass

Dr. J.P. Brennan, Coroner for South County Dublin, conducted the enquiry
Mr. John A. Costelloe (instructed by the State Solicitor) appeared for the Authorities.
Captain W. Redmond M.P. (instructed by Mr. Henry Lemass, solicitor) represented the next-of-kin.

John (Seán) Lemass, a brother of the deceased man was represented by Mr. A. Lynn (instructed by Mr. Sean O hUadhaigh, solicitor).

Mr. Ignatius Rice, Law Agent, watched the proceedings on behalf of Dublin Corporation.
Mr. Joseph O’Connor (instructed by Mr. Michael Noyk) appeared for a military officer who was not named.

Captain James Murray was charged some years after the death of Noel Lemass with the murder of Joe Bergin in Kildare in December 1923. Sentence of death was passed but later commuted by the then Free State Attorney General, Fionan Lynch, on the condition that Murray leave Ireland. The murders of Noel Lemass and Joe Bergin were not the only ones accredited to Murray. He was also reputed to have killed Henry McEntee in Finglas in September 1923.

Inquest of Noel Lemass October 1923
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Letter from Dept. of Home Affairs to Dr. Brennan

Ministry of Home Affairs
Dublin
15th October 1923

A Dhuine Uasail,

I am directed by the Minister for Home Affairs4 to acquaint you that he proposes having a post mortem examination of the body of the late Noel Lemass made by a pathologist and to request you to give your permission for same.

As the Minister is anxious that the examination should be made this afternoon I shall be obliged if you will let me have your written permission by return per bearer of this letter, or alternatively perhaps you will kindly communicate with me by telephone.

Mise le meas agat,
RUNAIDHE
Dr. J.P. Brennan
Coroner
17, Idrone Terrace
Blackrock.

4 The Minister for Home Affairs at this point was Kevin O’Higgins.

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Letter from Dr. Brennan to Dept. of Home Affairs

To The Secretary
Department of Home Affairs
Dublin
15th October

I shall be very glad to have a P.M. examination made on the body of Noel Lemass. I had already examined a dozen and I can say that here will be no objection to having a pathologist. I should like to know whether it is proposed to have an examination of the deceased organs. If you would kindly let me know by letter at the Town Hall Rathmines at 4 PM this afternoon. I should be seeing [illegible] [illegible] and it will facilitate matters.

It has been my intention to ring you up for another purpose. Some [illegible] [illegible] had a [illegible] with the [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] officers regarding a certain [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] my house I have [illegible] to [illegible] [illegible] possibly during the holding of this inquest or after it that there is [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] an attack on my person [illegible] and [illegible] be glad if you would kindly bring this matter to the notice of the [illegible] [illegible] he can if necessary take any [illegible] [illegible] [illegible]

Inquest of Noel Lemass October 1923
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Letter from Dept of Home Affairs to Dr. Brennan

Ministry of Home Affairs
Dublin
15th October 1923
Re: Noel Lemass Deceased

A Dhuine Uasail,

I am directed by the Minister for Home Affairs to acknowledge receipt of your reply to my letter of today’s date. It is desired to make a general post mortem examination of the body and Dr. W.D. O’Kelly has been requested to undertake same. It will be a matter for him to determine whether an examination of the internal organs is necessary.

As regards the matter of your personal protection, I have been directed by the Minister to take the necessary measures.

Mise le meas,
RUNAIDHE.
Dr. J.P. Brennan
Coroner
Town Hall
Rathmines

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Letter from Dept of Home Affairs to Dr. Brennan

Ministry of Home Affairs
Dublin
15th October 1923

A Dhuine Uasail

I am directed by the Minister for Home Affairs to acknowledge receipt of your letter of yesterdays date requesting [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] intimation conveyed to Captain [illegible] that it was your duty to offer him an opportunity of being present at the resumed inquest concerning the death of the late Noel Lemass.

As Captain [illegible, possibly ‘B’] Murray is under military arrest pending investigation of the [illegible] [illegible] about him, I have [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] Secretary, Ministry of [illegible] who [illegible] [illegible] be Captain Murray.

Mise le meas
RUNAIDHE
Dr. J.P. Brennan
Coroner
17, Idrone Terrace
Blackrock.

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Testimony of John Lemass

Re: Noel Lemass
John Lemass 2 Caple Street

I am the father of Mr. Noel Lemass. A body which I believe to be that of my son was found on the Dublin mountains last Friday. I have no doubt but that the body was that of my son. I identified the body by a grey whipcord suit. A week previously he had broken his glasses and them them (sic) to be repaired. The lens – the old one – which was described as a watch glass corresponded with the size and shape of the glasses (produced). At the time of his disappearance they were in Mr. O’Dea’s, the opticians. He was wearing spats, brown silk socks, a tie pin and brown shoes. I have no doubt these were the clothes of my son. I don’t know who made the clothes. I am perfectly certain the remains are those of my son. I did not see any hair found near the body. The height and width of the remains would correspond with the height and width of my son. A Rosary beads was found on him. That was his. There was very little flesh on the body. The rosary beads were rusted.

J.T. Lemass
22/10/23

My son was twenty-five years old. He was an engineer by occupation. I have examined some hair said to have been found near the body. His hair was like that.

J.T. Lemass
22/10/23

When I heard of my son’s disappearance I wrote to Oriel House and the Minister of Defence, Mr. D. McCarthy, Mr. Seán MacGarry on 9th July. I received a reply from Oriel House, the Minister of Defence, Oriel House denied that anyone had been taken by that department. Mr. Henry Lemass also communicated by telephone on my behalf. On the 9th July I first heard from Mr. Devine who related to me the occurrence in Exchequer St., not getting any trace of him I advertised. I also reported it to the Detective Division D.M.P. I receive no response to my advertisement which were in all the morning papers for two days. I had a question asked in the Dáil. The President stated he was most anxious to discover the perpetrators of this outrage. That was on 27th July. I advertised again then but got no reply. The next we heard of him was from Mr Broderick and Mr. Tuite. Sent the information to Messrs. Cosgrave, Mulcahy and O’Higgins immediately and requested the Civic Guard to have the river Liffey dragged at Blessington. That request was complied with. On receipt of

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the information I referred them to my solicitor Mr. Lemass in order to obtain a written and signed statement Mr. Tuite accompanied me to Blessington where he stated he was brought. The next I heard was the discovery of the body. I am anxious to discover the true perpetrator of the outrage. I personally bring no charge against anyone in regard to this matter.

 

To Lynn:-

My son escaped more than once. As far as I am aware I have no remembrance of a threat against my son not being allowed to escape a third time. A body was stated to have been discovered at Deansgrange. I telegraphed out to Madame MacBride if it were correct that her statement made the previous [illegible, possibly evening] at a meeting in the Mansion House was correct.

 

To Costello:-

On communicating my statement to the Government I believe they acted on it. At the time the body had not been recovered. I communicated with the Police on the 16th July regarding my son’s disappearance. I had been at Oriel on the 10th July. They made no move until 21st July.

To

I think I saw Mr. Broderick before I saw Mr. Tuite whom I saw two days afterwards. This was some time in September towards the end of the month.

Fragment of hand written, untranscribed testimony from John Lemass

They told me that my sons body had been thrown into the river near Blessington. I then informed the Minister of Defence. I heard the Captain whose name was mentioned in statements made was under arrest, and I heard that a military enquiry was going on.

To Lynn:

My first communication was on the 9th [illegible, possibly July] to the Minister of Defence. I wrote to [illegible] [illegible] on the 10th July. I asked to be represented at the Court of Enquiry which I heard was to be held in respect of the statements of Messrs. Tuite and Broderick.

J F Lemass
Inquest of Noel Lemass October 1923
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Testimony of Sgt. Thomas Clarke

Sgt. Thomas Clarke, Blessington

I remember Mr. Lemass and his wife coming up on 23rd Sept. As a result of what they said I had the river dragged. Mr. Tuite subsequently came out and pointed out where Noel Lemass was said to have been thrown. We dragged altogether about 10 miles. On the last occasion there could possibly have been nothing left. I did not [illegible] from a medical man if it was possible for a body to be left under water all that time.

Thomas Clarke Sgt.
22/10/23

 

Testimony of Sgt. John O’Leary

22-10-23
Sgt. John O’Leary, Civic Guard Depot, Phoenix Park

I am sergeant in the Garda Siochana. On Friday 12th inst. I was in charge of a party that searched the Dublin Mountains when we came across a body now identified as Noel Lemass. Near the Featherbed Road in a spot known locally as The Shoots. Accompanied by a DMP Constable and another Civic Guard we commenced to search. [Illegible] in the right near the road and at a distance of about 68 yards I found the body. In the ditch where I found the body the fence is about as high as the land. There is some heather and grass in the ditch. I saw from [illegible] and then discerned a body of a human being. I found the skull quite bare about 8 feet 4 inches from the trunk of the body. To the left of where I found the skull I found an impression which appeared to be that of the head and shoulders of a man. Between the impression where the body was found a space of about 4 ft 9 inches intervened. The skull was about 18 inches distant from the impression. There were some teeth lying on the ground near the skull. There were 4 or 5 at least. In the impression of the shoulders I found more teeth and what I took to be the bones of fingers and finger nails. On the right of the impression I found a small piece of the skull. I found the body face downwards. The right leg was stretched forth and from the pants was protruding a bone. There was no boot or no foot. The left leg was partly across with the outer ankle faced upwards. A [illegible] and a brown [illegible, possibly ‘shoe’] were in it. Under the foot (in the region of [illegible]) I found the right shoe with the heel turned upwards. I found to the right of the neck a portion of the right [illegible, possibly ‘shoe’]. The right foot was not found at all. The body was dressed in a dark grey tweed suit [illegible] trousers and vest (The body appeared to be undisturbed). Drawers were found and what appeared to be black silk [illegible]. The hip pocket of the pants was turned inside out. As far as I could see the pockets of the coat were not interfered with nor those of the vest. I searched the body and I found on it what appeared to be 2 eye glasses, a rosary beard, a pencil and on the tie a tie pin. I brought

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the glasses into Mr. O’Dea [illegible] [illegible] the morning when he gave his evidence. After the discovery of the body it was guarded all night.

 

To Capt. Redmond:

Two sergeants and four guards left the depot. We picked up a DMP man and a sergeant from Rathfarnham. I could not say why I was sent out there. I received instructions to do so at 1:30 to search for the body. Commdt. McCarthy gave me my instructions. I have been some time in the police force. I have come across dead bodies before but never saw one in the state of decomposition this was in. When I saw the impression on the ground I came to the conclusion that some of the remains had been removed, that at the time of removal they were in a state of decomposition and that portions of the remains became severed. The clothing did not seem to me to have been disturbed. The material was [illegible] [illegible] indeed that these articles (beads etc) were all rusted. About 5 or 6 teeth were lying on the impression of the shoulders. At the time it did not strike me as if the body was immersed. The place was damp where I found the body. The pin was in the tie which was dark and knitted. The shirt was white with a dark strips (sic). There was very little flesh on the body. It is the usual procedure for other Guards to assist in making a search of this nature. I don’t know why this search was made.

 

To Lynn:

The impression of the body would have been nearer the road than the actual spot where the body was found. The right sock was in the shoe under the body. I did not examine the shoe to see if there was a portion of the foot in it.

 

To Costello:

From the look of the impression I formed the opinion that the body had been longer in the first position than in the second. It would appear to have lain where found about a month. The party broke down on the way to the searching and only three took part in it. I found some hair in the impression of what I took to be a head about 18 ins. from the skull.

John O’Leary Sgt.

 

Testimony of Sgt. Patrick Glynn

Sergeant Patrick Glynn, Rathfarnham

I accompanied Sgt. O’Leary and Const. Rutherford on the search on Friday 12th inst. We had been searching two and a half hours and the body was eventually discovered by Sergeant O’Leary about a quarter to six and the position of the body was as Sergeant O’Leary has described. Two men from Rathfarnham station guarded the body during the night.

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I agree with the conclusion Sergeant O’Leary has drawn in regard to the length of time the body has been lying.

I had no reason for making enquiries in the neighbourhood personally.
Patrick Glynn.

 

Testimony of Const. Robert Rutherford

CONSTABLE ROBERT RUTHERFORD RATHMINES D.M.P.

On Friday 12th inst. , I accompanied Sergeants O’Leary and Glynn to the Dublin Mountains, we picked up two other men on the way. The party broke down and only three began the search. I saw the body under the circumstances described by Sergeant O’Leary. I was instructed to go owing to my local knowledge to show the way up the mountains. I could not say if I got instructions previously to look for Noel Lemass. I was instructed to go to Featherbed Road. If the body was decomposing it is unlikely that it would have been smelt by a person passing on the road. If anyone is missing we get general instructions to look for them.

Robert Rutherford

 

Testimony of Raymond Wall

11/10/23
RAYMOND WALL
27, PALMERSTON ROAD

I am a student in the Dental Hospital. The late Noel Lemass attended the hospital in June and late in May 1922. I gave him attention. I treated an upper first premolar with arsenic and dentalised it. I filled the roots with gutta-percha points and afterwards filled the crown with an amalgam. The exact description of the filling is disal occulsal.I also treated his second premolar on the same side. That was a mesial cavity. I also treated his gums. He was attending until 26th June 1922.His gums were being treated for Vincents Angina. I received a letter from the late Noel Lemass. I produce the letter. I cannot recollect to which tooth he was referring. I cannot say what percentage of people suffer from Vincents Angina. The amalgam I put in would if polished become silvery gray in colour.

Raymond Wall.
Inquest of Noel Lemass October 1923
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Testimony of Dr. Henry Goulding

DR HENRY [Illegible, possibly ‘BRENDAN’] GOULDING, 12, Rathmines Road

I made a P.M. examination of the remains stated to be those of Noel Lemass. There were three gunshots fired through the skull, the left ear entrance and corresponding exit was in front of the right temple. There were two entrances in front of the left temple, the corresponding exits behind the right temple. Any one of these would have been sufficient to cause death. There was extensive fracture of the vault of the skull. Both bones of the left arm were fractured above the wrist. These were all the injuries I could find. I examined the teeth that were left. These teeth were not in my opinion removed by violence. They were perfect. Three teeth were filled in the upper and one in the lower jaw. The first and second molar on the left (upper) and the 1st premolar and one molar in the lower jaw. I could not give any opinion as to whether the body found in the Dublin Mountains had been dropped into the river. The right foot was not found. The stopping was lustrous in appearance. I saw some of the hair attached to the fractured ends of the bones. Decomposition is retarded by dry air. The disappearance of the foot might not be what I would normally have expected. The decomposition might have been explained by the fact that the body had for some time in a river (sic). Decomposition in dry air commences in the abdomen spreads over the trunk, extends to the face and then is a gradual decomposition from that on. I could not give an opinion as to the decomposition that took place in Noel Lemass was normal. There was no indication from the presence of adipocere5 that the body had been immersed. I could not say whether the body lay on the back or the front. In about a couple of months removal of the body would cause severance of the head from the trunk. I saw nothing to convince me that the body had been thrown in the Liffey and floated up the stream.

H.B. Goulding

5 Adipocere, also known as corpse, grave or mortuary wax, is a wax-like organic substance formed by the anaerobic bacterial hydrolysis of fat in tissue, such as body fat in corpses. In its formation, putrefaction is replaced by a permanent firm cast of fatty tissues, internal organs and the face. Adipocere is a crumbly, waxy, water-insoluble material consisting mostly of saturated fatty acids. Depending on whether it was formed from white or brown body fat, adipocere is grayish white or tan in color. In corpses, the firm cast of adipocere allows some estimation of body shape and facial features, and injuries are often well-preserved. The transformation of fats into adipocere occurs best in the absence of oxygen in a cold and humid environment, such as in wet ground or mud at the bottom of a lake or a sealed casket, and it can occur with both embalmed and untreated bodies. Adipocere formation begins within a month of death, and in the absence of air it can persist for centuries. Adipocerous formation preserved the left hemisphere of the brain of a 13th century infant such that sulci, gyri, and even Nissl bodies in the motor cortex could be distinguished in the 20th century. An exposed, infested body or a body in a warm environment is unlikely to form deposits of adipocere. Corpses of women, infants and overweight persons are particularly prone to adipocere transformation because they contain more body fat. In forensic science, the utility of adipocere formation to estimate the postmortem interval is limited because the speed of the process is temperature-dependent. It is accelerated by warmth, but temperature extremes impede it.

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Testimony of Dr. W.D. O’Kelly

23.10.23
Dr. WD O’Kelly, University College Dublin

I am an expert in pathology. I have a large amount of post mortem experience. I examined the remains on whose body this inquest is being held. There was little flesh, much of the bones were bare. There was some flesh in the trousers. The left leg of the trousers appeared to have [illegible, possibly ‘marked’] in it. There was much less in the right leg of the trousers. I did not find the right foot. There was no real tissue in the pelvis. A certain amount of grey slurry material was lying there. There were no organs left at all. There was no recognising of definite tissues. [Illegible, possibly ‘Maggots’] came out from the material. The scull was as Dr. Goulding described. I [illegible, possibly ‘thought’] the shots were fired at very close range. The exit wound of one aperture which appears to have been made (in the [illegible, possibly ‘left hand side’] of the skull) by the entrance of 2 bullets fired probably in quick succession was on the right side of the skull. The fracture referred to by Dr. Goulding was probably caused by the 2 bullets. I agree with Dr. Goulding that any of the wounds mentioned [illegible] cause death. The lower jaw has 3 teeth and one [illegible]. The teeth were quite loose with one exception. I [illegible, possibly ‘examined’] this jaw upside down and gave it a light tap against a table and a stump of and one of the teeth fell out. The other lose teeth lifted out quite easily. I saw the teeth found beside the skull, there was no trace of injury (or [illegible, possibly ‘violence’]) to the teeth before death. I noticed a filling in the 1st and 2nd [illegible, possibly ‘right’] molar. It was a metallic filling. [Illegible] the teeth that I examined corresponded with those mentioned by Mr. Wall. I don’t think that degree of Vincent’s Angina mentioned by Mr. Wall would affect the sockets. I would not attribute the falling out of these teeth to this disease. The clothes which were found on the body appeared to fit. The skull was discoloured on one side and bleached on the other. I found a fragment of bone which the Sergeant said he found near the knee fitted into the [illegible, possibly ‘lozenge’] shaped wound.

Some short hairs were attaching to the concave portion of the [illegible] bone. As (to which hairs were attached) hair was found on it did not react to the tests for blood. If the (piece of) bone forms a hinge and the skin did not fade [illegible] that would account for the presence of hairs on the inside of the bone. Decomposition was far advanced. If the body had been immersed and taken out it would [illegible, possibly ‘decompose quickly’]. The same would happen if the body were lying in an open [illegible]. If the body had been lying in water it would mean that a flap of skin would have to be lying over the fragment of bone above referred to. There is very little for me to give an opinion as to whether the body was lying in water. Any one of the 3 wounds in the skull would have caused death. I examined the [illegible, possibly ‘soft’ or ‘left’] collar on the deceased and the material did not give the tests for blood. The collar appeared to be bloodstained. I got a reaction that is given by blood but it is given by other substances. The forearm there was a transverse fracture of the two bones. The right fibula was fractured about its lower third. The lower end of the corresponding bone – the tibula was not [illegible]. The fracture in the fibula might be due to direct or indirect violence.

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To Mr. Redmond:-

I cannot give any other opinion than that they are revolver bullets. I am satisfied that the bullet wounds fractured the skull. The [illegible] tooth described by Mr. Wall corresponded with what I discovered. It is very difficult to form an opinion to whether the body was immersed or not. I found no traces of the teeth of a dog or other animal on the body. I think an animal must have taken the right foot. I have not found marks of any animals teeth. Decomposition is more than what I would have expected in 3 months. It is also [illegible, possibly ‘hastened’] by being immersed in water and then exposed to the air. Decomposition is more rapid in stagnant than in running water.

With the exception of hair adhering to the under surface of the lozenge shaped piece of bone, the appearance of the body would have been consistent with its being thrown into the Liffey and removed months afterwards when the river was dragged. If the body was in water for nearly three months I think that no [illegible] of hair would be [illegible]. It is quite possible that the body could have laid there since the time of death.

I could not say if the fractures in the forearm was post mortem or ante mortem.

W.D. O’Kelly
23rd Oct. 1923

 

Testimony of James A. O’Dea

22/10/23
James A. O’Dea, 7, Nassau Street

I am an optician carrying on busness in Nassau Street. I was acquainted with the late Noel Lemass who had been a client of mine. I had made some spectacles for him. I testes (sic) his eyes about two years ago and he retested them on the morning of his disappearance 3rd July. He left empty rims in. He showed me a broken lens. I have seen the lens the Civic Guard found near the body. It is exactly the same power. The lens was not made in my premises. It is one that would have been used for eyes of the type of those of Noel Lemass. The break in the lens exactly corresponded with the one that had been supplied to Noel Lemass.

James A. O’Dea.

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Testimony of Harry [or Henry] Thunder

[Harry or Henry] Thunder 28 [illegible] Ave Rathgar

I am the acting manager in [illegible] St. Workshops. I know the late Noel Lemass pretty well. I introduced him to meet people whom he wanted to see regarding his job [illegible] he also spoke about some document he wished to be forwarded to the Government. I think it was [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] to the disappearance of Mr. Lemass

HF Thunder
22/10/23

 

Testimony of John J. Murphy

22/10/23
John J. Murphy, Town Clerk, Dublin

I had seen the late Noel Lemass. I remember him coming to me last June about a fortnight before his disappearance. He was accompanied by Mr. Thunder. He asked me might he return to his job. I said “I see no difficulty as all jobs occupied by men who were arrested are in the ordinary course open. He then asked me if he wrote me a letter stating that he had no intention of armed resistance to the Government would I forward that letter to the President or to the Government. I forget which he said. I said I had no objection but suggested that it might be unwise for him to write such a letter as he might possibly be arrested. He replied that he was fairly certain it was known to the Government that he had returned. I also suggested that he might write a letter direct to the Government himself. He said he did not wish to do that. He left my office – The suggested letter never reached me and I never saw him again.

 

TO MR. O’CONNOR:

I thought the object of his writing to me was to obviate his arrest – that he had no immediate apprehension. I heard nothing of the interview between the late Noel Lemass and Mr. Devine.

JOHN J. MURPHY

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Testimony of John Devine

Re. Noel Lemass
John Devine, 15 Wood Quay

I am an official in the Cleaning Department of the Corporation. Mr. Noel Lemass was employed in my dept. On the 3rd July this year he was in my company. We had dinner at the Wicklow Hotel on that day Mr. Lemass was dressed in a rather dark whipcord suit which I would call minister’s grey. To the best of my recollection he had a purple and gold coloured knitted tie. He was wearing a black hard hat. He had no overcoat. I can’t remember the colour of his footwear. I saw the body which was found. The coat appeared to be darker in colour than that which he was wearing on the 3rd July. The striped shirt on the body corresponded with that which Mr. Lemass had on, on the 3rd July. I could not say if the height or width of the remains corresponded with that of my friend. The tie is now dark slaty in colour. I could not say if he was wearing spats on the 3rd July. He wore them occasionally.

John J. Devine
22.10.23


Re. Noel Lemass
22.10.23
John Devine, 15 Wood Quay

The late Noel Lemass was originally a draughtsman in the Works Department of the Corporation. I introduced a system of motor haulage into the (cleaning) department when I was appointed Superintendent. I then asked that the services of Noel Lemass should be transferred to my department. He was there from May to August 1922. From that time till 3rd July the day in which Noel Lemass disappeared I did not see or hear from him. I remember Tuesday 3rd July6 last (that been in England [illegible] on Conferences). On that morning he came into my office. We discussed routine matters. He spoke about being reinstated into his old position in my department. He remained about an hour and a half. He then left. He came back again about 20 to 2 and asked me to go and have some lunch at the [illegible, possibly ‘Wicklows’]. [illegible] the [illegible, possibly ‘Wicklows’] was rather far away that I had a meeting at 3. He ultimately prevailed and we went about 10 to 2 in a [illegible] [illegible] Eustace Street, Dame St., Dame Court and Exchequer Street and Wicklow Street. We lunched together and remained about 40 minutes. We had a table to ourselves. We left about 20 X 3. We were returning by the same route. Walking up Wicklow Street, I was on the inside, he on the outside of the path. At MacNeils Hardware shop, nearly opposite Drury Street I was seized by the left side of the neck from behind, pulled round falling up against the wall of MacNeill’s premises. I found myself confronted by a well dressed man wearing a grey cap and a

6 In 1922 the 3rd of July was a Monday, not a Tuesday

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dark brown tweed suit. He said come here till I see who you are at the same time drawing a heavy blue-black revolver which he placed against my stomach. He then asked me who I was and I replied “The Superintendent of the Drawing Department”. I then turned sideways to ascertain what had happened to Noel Lemass when this man with his left hand too the glasses off my face. I again endeavoured to look around and he seized a bundle of papers out of my breast pocket saying “What are these you have got here”. I replied there was nothing there but a few official documents and then he said put them up in your pocket and and come [illegible] with me. A man had also seized Lemass from behind and got a glimpse of them going towards Drury Street. I did not get a chance of seeing the man who took Noel Lemass. I heard his saying “What is the meaning of this?”. I was dazed at the time. The glasses taken from me were put in the pocket of my captor. A fair number of women were looking in shop windows. They went away very rapidly. I was taken from Exchequer Street, theough St. Andrew’s Street, Suffolk Street, across the bottom of Grafton Street, along Nassau Street to the Trinity College place in the direction of Lincoln Place. I asked him what he did with my glasses. He replied I have them here in my pocket. We went down Lincoln Place to a point where a lane at the back of Kennedy’s Public House. At this stage I was in full view of Oriel House. At the lane he looked over at Oriel House. I said I want to go over there. “There are people about I don’t want to see”. He said “Come down the lane”. I objected and said I was prepared to go to Oriel House with you. Then I sais “What do you mean?” He replied [Illigible] don’t want to examine your papers. I said you can examine them here as well as down the lane and I produced them. We then turned down the corner of the lane about two yards to a point where there is a barred window on the left. He examined my papers there and kept two – one containing my address with a receipt from a Golf Club and also another letter from a friend asking if I could get a job for a friend of his. There was a lorry in the lane and two men who were delivering mineral waters. He asked if I were well known in the City. I said I was. He then asked if I knew anyone in particular. I said Yes I was personally acquainted with President Cosgrave and General Mulcahy. He then told me to take down my papers from the window where he had placed them. My glasses he did not return. He then told me to turn to the right round the corner and keep myself quiet about the matter. I returned by the same route to Dame Street by Parliament Street, Grattan Bridge and went in the direction of Mr. Lemass’s father’s house. Before arriving there I observed two men of somewhat similar type to the man who had arrested me lying up against the wall below the bank in Capel Street and I went back to Wood Quay and reported to various friends who would report the matter to the friends of Noel Lemass.

The man who arrested me wore a dark brown suit and gret (sic) cap. Medium build – about 5 foot 8 incs. height and to the best of my recollection slightly bronzed. The cap was well pulled down over his eyes. I could not see what colour his hair was. He might be between 35 and 38 He was well dressed.

 

To Captain Redmond :-

I did not protest when I was seized nor did I shout. I did not them (sic) ask what he wanted nor did I ask for his authority. The men in Capel Street were also well dressed and wearing caps. They were looking over at me suspiciously. The man who arrested me was clean shaven. There was nothing particular in his appearance. It did not occur to me to go to any of the authorities as I assumed these men to be some of the authorities. While going to Oriel House, I did not think it wise to run away. On my way back it did not occur to me to speak to any policeman. He had no mask on. I may have

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difficulty in identifying him. The absence of glasses would not interfere with me seeing people at some distances. It was hard to identify the accent. I met Mr. Lemass senior bout two days after the occurrence. The police came to me about the affair later.

 

To Mr. Lynn :-

At the foot of Grafton Street I passed quite close to the policeman on Point Duty. My captor was quite unconcerned about him. I did not observe any policeman at Dawson Street corner. I passed about 6 or 7 yards away from the policeman at Grafton Street. I was aware that questions were asked in the Dáil concerning the disappearance of Noel Lemass. I read the report of the answers given. The reading of that report did not alter my old opinion regarding my captor. I thought it my duty to give all information possible to the father of the late Noel Lemass. In addition to the captor of Noel Lemass and my captor I saw no more.

 

To Mr. Rice :-

At the time of my arrest I was aware that Noel Lemass was a man who had escaped from prison. On that account I was of the opinion that I was being legally arrested.

 

To Mr. O’Connor :-

The man who arrested Noel Lemass was slightly taller. The man who arrested me held the revolver in his right hand – he pointed it for a second or two put it back in his pocket and pulled it out again. He appeared very open in his manner. Passing the policeman he had the revolver in his pocket and was continually looking backwards and forwards.

John J. Devine


23 : 10 : 23
John Devine, 15, Wood Quay

I have been to St. Bricin Hospital. I could not identify anyone there as having been in Exchequer Street on the occasion when I was arrested on the 3rd July. I saw Captain Murray and he is undoubtedly not the man who arrested me on that date. Captain Murray is a taller and thinner man than the man who arrested me. The backs of both of his wrists are tattooed. The man who arrested me had not got a genuine ‘Dublin’ accent. I spoke with Captain Murray and he had a stronger Dublin accent than the person who arrested me. He had prominent upper teeth and his ‘voice’ is different.

(To Lynn) I have [text missing] been wearing glasses for some years. I could not identify any person as being the one who arrested Noel Lemass.

John J. Devine

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Further Testimony of John Lemass

23/10/23
JOHN LEMASS, 2 Capel Street

I was present yesterday when Mr. Murphy gave his evidence. I heard him state that Noel Lemass would not personally write to the Government. Some months before that Mr. Murphy asked me if Noel was coming back that they were re-arranging the Cleansing Department. I said that I thought my son would be most anxious to get back as soon as he was free from arrest. My son said that he would write to the Town Clerk. My son took other steps to be reinstated in his position. He went to Mr. Devine. He said that the Town Clerk wanted him to write a letter but he would not do it.

J.T. Lemass

 

Testimony of Richard Broderick Snr.

Re. Noel Lemass
15/10/23
RICHARD BRODERICK, Senior, Árd Cuaine, Glenageary

About 2 o’clock this morning I was awakened by a knocking at the door. It was on a chain. I saw 2 men at the door and they had revolvers pointed at me. They demanded admittance. I asked who they were and for their authority to come in. This information they would not give. All they wanted was to get in. They appeared threatening me with revolvers. I refused to take the chain off the door till my wife came down. She persuaded me to open it and they said “I want to see that son of yours”. I said, “He is not here, he is sleeping out”. Just at that moment my two daughters came down and one of the raiders said “Bring us to see him”. Then my daughter said “You want to kill him like Noel Lemass”. They then seemed to get very frightened and nervous and one of them pulled the other and said “Come back out of that”. He had 2 papers in his hand and said taking a paper from his hand “Give him that paper (produced). They then said “Is there electric light in the house” I said No. One of the chaps dashed the candle out of my wife’s hand. They were not masked.

Richard Broderick Senr.

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Testimony of Kathleen Broderick

Miss Kathleen Broderick, Ard Cuaine, Glenageary

I remember Monday 15th October last. I saw the raiders. I identify one of them, his name is Michael Murray. I know this man. I know his family. He is a brother of Captain Murray’s. This was the occasion when a threatening notice was handed in. Michael Murray handed it to my father. He has been to my house before. I saw Michael Murray on Saturday evening but he was in plain clothes then and also when my house was raided. He is in the Free State Army. I know he is an officer, but I don’t know what his rank is. I have seen him in uniform. Though he had left that note he has not yet, as far as I know, been arrested. I gave this information on the day of the raid to a sergeant in Dun Laoghaire.

Kathleen Broderick

 

Testimony of Richard Broderick Jnr.

Re: Noel Lemass
15/10/23
Risteard Ui Brandain7 Ard Cuaine Glenageary

I received a summons to attend a Military enquiry. I have not got it.

Risteard Ui Brandain

The enquiry was for the same purpose as that for which military summons produced – to investigate charges against a certain gentleman in connection with the cause of death of Noel Lemass. I made a statement a few days ago [(illegible) statement made while I was under arrest] about the murder of Noel Lemass and another man who has also been murdered – Sean McEntee.


Risteard Ui Brandain
22/10/23 – I remember 15th September. I knew Captain Murray. He said on the He said he shot Noel Lemass. He shot said “I shot Noel Lemass and I threw his body into the Liffey at Poulaphouca”. I attended a military enquiry last week and and gave similar evidence as I have given now against Captain Murray. I met Captain Murray about 2 o’c in am the 15th September. I was with him about since 9.30 the night before. I [Illegible] [Illegible] him in Dun Laoghaire at 103 Lr George St – the Sinn Fein Club. I called down to meet my sister & bring her home. I walked into the club and was

7 The Irish version of the name Richard Broderick
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arrested. The place was being raided for arms by armed men in plain clothes. They were Intelligence Officers of the Free State Army. I knew Captain James Murray personally. I can identify them all. Murray arrested me. I was asked when was I released from jail. I was marched through to join state [Illegible] be shot if I

Risteard Ui Brandain

If I attempted to escape. I was marched to a waiting motor car. I think it was a Ford car. It had lights. I got into the motor car. [Illegible] got in with me. Murray was the driver, we drove to Stillorgan. The car was halted and I was asked “Did I know where Mr. Tuite lives”, I said “I did not”. There was a delay of about half an hour. They knocked at three or four houses but got no reply. We drove down a very dark lane ([Illegible] lane) off the Stillorgan Road. The car was halted. The lights (of the car) were put out. Nobody was near at the time. There are no houses along that lane. I was then taken out of the car and I was asked questions about men on the run. Murray asked the questions. I got kicked and punched when they failed to get any information nothing else was said except that if they got the men on the run they would shoot them. I was made to say prayers and a shot was fired at me. One of the officers did not like the proceedings & persuaded Murray to put me in the car again. We drove away (to a place) about 10 miles outside Dublin. I was beaten with revolvers all the way. I think it was out Crumlin direction. On reaching our destination I was taken out, kicked and punched again and questioned. A man and a girl came along on a bicycle and they were held up and told not to say anything about what they saw. They took their names and addresses which I did not hear. I was about forty minutes from in the place. Murray remarked that he had not put up with half as much from Harry McEntee. Later on he said he shot Noel Lemass. He said he shot McEntee. I was driven back to Portobello Barracks and brought upstairs to an office. Commandant Nelligan gave me another beating there. I identified Commdt. Nelligan. I did not know him previous to that. I was brought downstairs then I was forced to stand in a corner of the room then for a couple of hours with a man behind sitting on a table with a revolver pointed at me. I was released on the following day, Sunday. Murray said not to tell anyone he was after beating me. He said if I did he would get me and finish me.


Risteard Ui Brandain
15/10/23

On Saturday one of the men who had arrested me said that it was all swank on Murray’s part when he said that he shot Noel Lemass and McEntee, and that I was very lucky to have escaped. I gave this information to Mr. Lemass Senior. And also to Mr. [illegible], Mr. Lenass’ solicitor. I have made a statement and signed it. I have attended a military enquiry. I have not been interfered with since last Monday. I have had an armed guard since.

 

To Lynn:-

I was taken out of the car time on the night of my capture. Captain Murray wanted to know if there was a laundry mark on my clothes. A shot was then fired. I ducked my head and he said that he missed me and that I was bloody lucky. They were asking for information about Commandant Darcy, Peadar [illigible, possibly Dillon] and a man called [illegible, possibly Hunt]. While in Portobello

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Barracks I saw Ins. Tuite about half past three on Saturday when Murray asked me how I was getting on.

 

To Lynn:-

[illegible, possibly Wm (William)] Darcy is a Commandant in the IRA. I have been [illigible] three times. I did not sign any undertaking. I have 2 brothers in jail, my sister has been arrested, as has my father. Darcy had had an accident shortly before my ordeal and had hurt his leg. He was not lying at the Tuite house. They told me that they knew all about it and he had been lying up at our house. They were looking for [illegible – possibly ‘trouble’ or ‘Tuite’] that night and took me with them. I knew Murray for several years. I ducked my head when I saw him raising his hand. Only one shot was fired. When I was brought outside to the country I was put up on a bank about 2 feet high. All got in the bank. They were all around me. I got kicked and punched. It was then that Murray said he had shot Noel Lemass having previously said that he shot McEntee. He also mentioned men shot during the Black & Tan regime and said he had shot Andy Knight and Graham as a result of which the Intelligence officer said to me I believe which [illegible] said to me.

I had an interview with Murray upstairs and he said “Don’t say anything about this or I will get you, I have plenty of touts out your way” All the Friday night – Saturday morning he was trying to get information from me. I think it was about 4 in the morning when I reached Portobello Barracks. At the enquiry I made no agreement to [illegible] and then other men because I was not allowed. After returning home I told all about the treatment I had received. (Top Gun) On Monday I went to Fr. Flanagan, Marlborough Street. I made a statement to him. My face was all swollen and bruised. I was examined by Dr. Merrin in Dun Laoghaire.

Risteard Ui Brandain

 

Testimony of Christopher Tuite

Noel Lemass
Christopher Tuite, Grove Gardens, Blackrock

I was not a witness in [illegible] enquiry concerning the death of Noel Lemass. I got a summons to attend one. The enquiry was to be held today at Park Gate Street. I produce the document I received the document on Saturday last at 5:30. On Sunday morning at 2 o’clock [illegible] came to my house. They fired a shot at the [illegible] coming down the avenue and then knocked at the door. My wife of put her head out through the window and asked who was there. Several [illegible] voices told her to open the door. She said that she would not and they started kicking in the door. She screamed at the top of the voice to attract the neighbours attention. Our neighbour Mr. Boyd and his whole family were soon at the scene and just then a pane of glass in the parlour window was broken in and the raiders then left. In the meanwhile Mr. Boyd rang up the DMP at Blackrock and one Inspector and two policemen came to the house. They remained on the grounds all the morning. At daybreak my

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wife discovered a [illegible] [illegible] document [illegible] to [illegible] [illegible] except I hid my name on the other document [illegible] [illegible] I left in my house.

 

Christopher Tuite
23.10.23

I remember (the morning of) 15th September 1923. I was brought [illegible] Ballyward Bridge near Blessington. Captain Murray brought me [illegible] the Liffey and he said “There is where was thrown the body of Noel Lemass when he was done in”. He [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] [illegible].

About 9.30 that morning four men (in mufti) came down the avenue with revolvers. I was just coming out of the house. Captain Murray and the other officer came along and asked if I was Mr. Tuite. I could identify Capt. Murray. He asked me when did I see Paddy Darcy. I said it is some time ago. He said “You’re a liar”. Your wife and daughter took him out of Brodericks. That was some time ago. He met with an accident and my wife took him [illegible] to have his wounds dressed. I came home one night late and he was there I never saw the boy before nor since. He then ordered one of his men to search the house and he brought me in company with another man down to some sheds to search the hay and sheds. Nobody was found there. He came back to the house with me. The man he sent to search the house said “I searched the house, there is nobody there”. He then said to me “[illegible] came that way”. We proceeded to other sheds towards the road to search them without success. Then he said “You come with us”. [illegible] orders to a man to stay with Tuite and the family till he came back. I said “If you are taking me to barracks or elsewhere give me time to dress myself”. I was in my working clothes at the time. I was brought to within 20 yards of [illegible] where a [illegible] was waiting. I was told to get in. There were 4 of us altogether in the motor car. The other officer Murray called Dan. I knew nothing about that man. I could identify any of these men. I was taken to Merrion Avenue, Fosters Avenue, Dundrum (over the) Dodder, (through) Terenure, to Blessington. We stopped at Dillon’s Public House in Brittas. Captain Murray got out of the car first, and he gave me his top coat. We went into the public house and had stimulants there. I saw a man behind the counter. There was no other customer there. We got into the car again and went towards Blessington where nearly opposite the Civil Guard Barracks we turned sharply to the left. About fifty yards at a cross road we went towards Ballyward Bridge. The car stopped at a gate within 50 or 75 yards from the bridge. We all got out there. Murray and the driver went up to the bridge. I was left with Dan who cross questioned me and said “We have our orders and you had better tell us what you know about those boys”. I said “I have given you all the information in my possession”. He then asked me, “Where were the boys likely to be”, and I told him that I heard that Leopardstown was a huanting (sic) place of theirs. During this conversation, Captain Murray and the driver fired revolver shots down the river and round about. Then they came down to the gate, and Captain Murray and Dan had a consultation. Afterwards we crossed the gate. I was taken down through a stubble field and out a little gap in the hedge where the Liffey flowed by. Captain Murray, pointing to the river, used words to the effect “There is where was thrown the body of Noel Lemass when he was done in”. He then took his coat off me and I asked him “What are you going to do with me”. He did not say he was going to shoot me. I understood he was going to do so. I said “Give me time to

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say my prayers”. At that request he made use of sacrilegious language. I got three minutes to say my prayers. There was an old stump of a tree lying over the hedge. I leaned on the tree and I heard the driver and Dan halt a man who was passing over the bridge. I did see that man. They took him down into the field, and I saw another man held up against the wall by the driver and Dan. Murray came towards me and said “Three minutes are up”. (The captured men were looking on at my mock execution. I would know these man. They are Mr. Morrin and Mr. Sherrin. They gave evidence at the Military Court of Enquiry at Bricin’s Hospital. Murray said “Stand back there” pointing the revolver at me. I beseeched him not to shoot me and said that I would do all in my power to get those boys for him. “All right” said he “that’s a bargain” – He then gave me his top coat again. The four of us got into the motor car and drove to Blessington. We stopped in Murphy’s Hotel, I think all went in. We had more stimulants. I was complaining of a pain in my side, and Captain Murray took me to the kitchen fire where I remained for some time in his company. He got sandwiches for me, but I did not taste of them. We then started for Dublin and went to Portobello Barracks arriving there at 3:30. (In Murphy’s Hotel, beyond Mrs. Murphy and another lady behind the counter, I saw no one else). At Portobello Barracks, I was taken to the Officer’s Mess, upstairs to a small office where there were letters on a table addressed to Captain James Murray. He opened and read them. I was feeling very cold and he lit a gas sto[ve that] was there. He then produced a large Ordinance Map of Leopardstown district, and after studying it he went away. Another officer whom they called Jerry came in and took all particulars about me. I asked him “Am I to be kept here tonight” – “in that case I would like to send home for clothes” He informed me that I would be going home tonight, that they were waiting for a car. Jerry told me to say nothing about this occurrence. I am certain that I identify Captain Murray. It was an Overland yellowish-grey car.

I was asked what side did I take of in The Split, and I said that “I am in Blackrock for the last 18 years, and nobody ever knew to what side I belonged. I am a Teacher in Blackrock Technical School. I said that I was neither a republican nor a Free Stater – that I was an Irishman. I was in Capel Street on the 27th September, and I had read in the paper that the Liffey was being dragged in search of the body of Noel Lemass, and thinking I could be of any assistance to the family in their efforts to recover the body, I called on Mrs. Lemass. I also told Mr. Lemass and told Mr. and Mrs. Lemass about the occurrence of 15th September. I arranged with Mr. Lemass to proceed to Blessington the following day to show them the spot where I had been brought on the 15th September. We took two Civic Guards with us. We came home then. Mr. Lemass asked me in Blackrock to know if I would make a statement I said “Certainly” and went into see Mr. (Henry) Lemass. I signed the statement. I attended a Military Inquiry and made a statement similar to that which I made to Mr. Lemass. I have not personally been interfered with since Monday week last. I saw one of the men who raided me coming from Captain Murray’s bedside on the day of the Enquiry. I think Quinn is his name. That is the name he gave to Mrs. Tuite. I have no interest whatsoever in the matter but to discover the circumstances of his sons death. In referring to “these boys”, Murray also spoke about a Patk. Dunne. In taking me into the car he said something about “To see Flanagan”. Capt. Murray said to me in the office – “You’re a poor man – I’ll make it worth your while if you help us to get these boys”. – I said “If I gave any information likely the Republicans would get me”. “We arranged a great code. He said “If you want to convey any messages to me my address is “Confidence” Dublin” he said if the boys were passing around or if we expected them that I should address the letter to a certain gentleman , who is a Minister of the Free Sate Cabinet. In Portobello Barracks I saw no prisoner there. I am now satisfied that the whole performance of my being taken away was all “Swank”.

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I produce the document placed in my house on the morning of 15th instant.
CHRISTOPHER TUITE

 

Testimony of Margaret McEntee

23.10.23
Mrs. nMargaret McEntee, 3 Irvine Terrace, Dublin

I am the widow of Heny McEntee who was murdered some time ago. My house was raided several times. On the first raid a Wednesday after Easter – I could identify the raiders Laurence Dunne, was one of those who raided my house, Detective Horan, Detective Devoy, whom, I believe, is an Army Intelligence Officer in Portobello. He stated he was not authorised to raid my house, and threatened my husband. Lieut. Malachi Keegan, Keogh Barracks. He, I believe, also goes under the name of Quinn. Detective McCabe and Wm. McInerney were there also.

MARGARET MC. ENTEE.

 

Testimony of Matthew Kearnes

Matthew Kearnes, [Illegible, possibly ‘Piperstown’] Road, Tallaght

My home is about two English miles from where the body was found. There is no inhabited house nearer the same. There was [illegible, possibly ‘fierce’] [illegible, probably ‘shooting’, possibly ‘shouting’] on 14th September. I am a game keeper on these grounds – The Cobbe Estate. That evening when we returned from the shooting lodge I heard (from in [illegible]) that the skeleton of a man was found on the mountains. There were twenty two beaters. I sleep every night in my house and have done so for the last 10 years. I never heard a shot fired at night. If there was any shooting during the summer I think I would have heard it. I heard about 3 weeks ago that Noel Lemass had disappeared. I did not inform the police about the rumours about the finding of a skeleton. Had I seen the skeleton I would have reported the matter to the police. The rumours did not convey to me the locality of the finding of the body. The nearest police station is Rathfarnham – about 5 and a half miles from me and about 6 and a half miles from where the body was found.

Matthew Kearnes

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Testimony of George Hickey

I heard the evidence of Mr. Kearnes. On 16th September 2 days after the I heard that a body had been found on the Dublin Mountains. The 3rd July last I don’t remember. I am often on the mountain looking for sheep but sheep don’t travel that part. I don’t often go over the shoots. In July or August I was in that particular spot 3 or 4 times, I would be about 300 yards from the scene. When I go after the sheep I have a dog. If I came near the body the dog would bark. I did not see any scare crows hanging round that spot. I was not there in July or August. The last time I was there was the 14th June. I have only been speaking to my own boss that a skeleton was seen on the Dublin Mountains. I did not speak to him about having seen a motor car and having spoken to the a driver.

 

Testimony of Comdt. William O’Reilly

Comdt. Wm. O’Reilly, GHQ, Parkgate

I have made a thorough search of the records of the Army to find if there is a man named [illegible, but probably ‘Seers’] or Sayers in the Army and there is no evidence of such a name on the list. There never was anyone of that name an Officer in the Army. My evidence applies to Commissioned Officers only.

W.J. O’ Reilly Commdt.

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Jury Notes

We hereby authorise the Coroner Dr. J.P. Brennan [illegible, possibly ‘pay’] [illegible] of the inquest of Noel Lemass.

Thomas Fallon
James O’Neill
Joseph Ryan
Patrick Hennessy
Edward Vaughan
John Delaney
Philip Kennedy
Orazio Pacitti
John Millard
Michael Fitzell
Francis McDonnell
W. Corr
T. Lynch

 

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Jury Votes


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Inquest Verdict

County of Dublin to Wit:

An INQUISITION indented and taken for his Majesty the King at Rathmines in the County of Dublin aforesaid, the 23rd day of October in the fourteenth year of the reign of His present Majesty George V, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith and soforth, and in the Year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and twenty-three before Dr. J.P. Brennan, esquire, one of the Coroners of the said County, on view the body of Noel Lemass then and there lying dead, upon the Oaths of –

1. Thomas Fallon,
6. John Delaney,
11. Francis McDonnell,
2. WIlliam O’Byrne,
7. Ed. Vaughan,
12. Orazio Pacitti,
3. James O’Neill,
8. John Millard,
13. Wm. Corr,
4. Joseph Ryan,
9. Michael Fitzell,
14. Thomas Lynch,
5. Patrick Hennessy,
10. Philip Kennedy,
15. –
And being good and lawful men of the said County, duly chosen, and being then and there duly sworn and charged to inquire for his said Majesty the King, when, how, and by what means the said NOEL LEMASS came to his death, do, upon their Oaths, say, that we the members of the Jury are satisfied that the remains of are those are of Noel Lemass we are agreed with the medical evidence that he was brutally and wilfully murdered. We have not sufficient evidence produced to satisfy us who the actual perpetrators was arising out of this enquiry. We are convinced that Armed Forces of the State have been implicated with the removal and disappearance of NOEL LEMASS from the Streets of Dublin.
WE DEMAND of the Government a judicial inquiry on the evidence produced at this inquest
WE TENDER our deepest sympathy with the relatives of the deceased.
IN WITNESS whereof as well as the said Coroner as the Jurors above named have hereunto set their Hands, the Day, Year, and the place above mentioned.
J.P. BRENNAN
23rd. October 1923

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All of the above has been taken from either contemporary newspaper articles or the Coroners records and is based on fact rather than opinion.

The following is the best analysis of the Lemass case placed in a wider context that I have seen.


Cultural Memory in Mercier and Camier: The Fate of Noel Lemass
CULTURAL MEMORY IN “MERCIER” AND “CAMIER”: The Fate of Noel Lemass Seán Kennedy

Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd’hui Vol. 15, Historicising Beckett / Issues of Performance / Beckett dans l’histoire / En jouant Beckett (2005), pp. 117-129 Published by: Editions Rodopi B.V. Article Stable URL:http://www.jstor.org/stable/25781507

Noel Lemass’s disappearance came at a difficult time for the Irish government under Cumann na nGaedheal. Cumann na nGaedheal was the political party formed by the nationalists who fought in the Civil War to defend the treaty granting independence to twenty six counties as the Irish Free State. They were opposed by disaffected republicans, or Irregulars, who rejected the Treaty and vowed to continue fighting in order to achieve freedom for the entire island of Ireland. Backed by British forces, the pro-Treatyites soon defeated the republican resistance and a Provisional Government was established. However, republicans like Noel Lemass refused to recognise the new administration, which was faced with an urgent quest for legitimacy. One member of that government, Kevin O’Higgins, described it as “simply eight young men in the City Hall standing amidst the ruins of one administration, with the foundations of another not yet laid, and with wild men screaming through the keyholes” (Smith, 65). Perhaps, unsurprisingly first priority was stability and the entire post-revolutionary period has recently been described as a counter-revolution in which many of the more radical aspirations of Irish nationalism were sacrificed in order to consolidate independence and achieve law and order in the short term. John Regan has documented how “the law, its application through governmental departments, and the restoration of an ordered society” emerged as the core of under Cumann na nGaedheal’s post-revolutionary agenda in 1922 (87). It was a successful policy in the short term, and, with the republican forces in disarray Cumann na nGaedheal’s grip on power was assured.

However the republican movement coalesced under an able leader, Eamon de Valera, to form Fianna Fáil in 1926, which, after it abandoned is ill-conceived policy of abstention in 1927, constituted a real threat to Cumann na nGaedheal’s hegemony. Fianna Fáil was particularly effective at using the embarrassment of partition to discredit Cumann na nGaedheal’s nationalist credentials, and it also made much of the government’s accommodation of Protestant business interests. Cumann na nGaedheal responded by playing the law and order card, portraying itself as a bulwark against anarchy. It printed posters showing Eamon de Valera being held to ransom by the IRA, which served to underline the tentative nature of the recent settlement and played on widespread

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anxieties and exhaustion after years of conflict. Law and order politics were its obsession in this period and, Regan goes as far as to suggest that Cumann na nGaedheal “was and remained a one-issue party from its foundation” (317). It was, he suggests, simply unable to move beyond “the politics of securing and maintaining the state” (303). Given that law and order was Cumann na nGaedheal’s only significant policy at this time, it was imperative that it retain its credibility in this matter.

In this nervous and highly militarist political climate the abduction of Noel Lemass in broad daylight was an unpleasant throwback to recent events. The Irish Times, which represented Ireland’s business communities and supported Cumann na nGaedheal, held that “the credit of the Government demands that the mystery of this young man shall be solved…there can be no place for affairs of this kind in the new Ireland” (28th July 1923, 6). If it was to uphold its position of guardian of law and order, then Cumann na nGaedheal had to be seen to be doing everything in its powers to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice. Yet, it seemed oddly reluctant to address the issue. The Lemass family claimed to have written to inform the government of their son’s fate on the 9th July, just three days after his disappearance, and been ignored. On the 17th July, they placed an advertisement in the Irish Times, and still the government did nothing. Eventually, the family had a question raised in the Dáil on the 27th of July. The Minister for Home Affairs, Kevin O’Higgin’s, suggested that the delay of thirteen days might be explained by the fact that Lemass’s disappearance had been assumed to be an official arrest, which was quickly denounced as an “extraordinary state of affairs” (Irish Times 28th July 1923, 7). Bowing to mounting pressure, the leader of Cumann na nGaedheal, William Cosgrave, promised that in future “the Government would exercise all the resources of the State to bring the person’s responsible to justice” (Irish Times 28th July 1923, 7).

Ominously, it emerged soon after that that some of the resources of the State might have been responsible for the murder in the first place. After the Dáil statement there followed an uneasy stalemate, until the body was discovered in October as the result of an anonymous communication. An inquest was set up, and two witnesses, Christopher Tuite and Richard Broderick, came forward claiming to have been abducted under circumstances similar to those surrounding the disappearance of Lemass. Richard Broderick recounted being arrested at a Sinn Féin club on the 15th September, and driven out into the countryside at gunpoint by a party led by a Captain James Murray: A Captain with the Criminal Investigation Department of the Irish Free State Police. He was questioned about republicans on the run, and, when he did not comply, was told to say his prayers and had a shot fired over his head. At this point, however, one of the abductors grew uneasy, and persuaded Murray to drive Broderick back into town. Broderick quoted Murray as saying: “I shot Noel Lemass and threw his body into the Liffey at Poulaphouca” (Irish Times 23rd October 1923, 3). Similarly, Christopher Tuite recalled being abducted by Murray and his men and brought out to Ballyward Bridge near Blessington. He was told “This is where was the body of Noel Lemass when he was done in” (Irish Times 24th October 1923, 7). Tuite was also cross-examined about republican activities, and shots were again fired during the interrogation. He was taken to a nearby field and given three minutes to say his prayers, but, again, the proceedings were interrupted. Tuite was released, having agreed to track down republican elements in Dublin, and even had a drink with his kidnappers in Murphy’s Hotel in Blessington on the way home (Irish Times 24th October 1923, 7). Both men were subsequently made to take vows of silence.

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However, Broderick and Tuite both contacted the Lemass family, who had the Liffey dragged in the hopes for finding their son. Aware that their victims had spoken, and that they were in danger of being implicated in Lemass’s murder, Murray and his men visited Broderick and Tuite’s houses, and delivered a written warning them that they had been sentenced to death, “for making statements likely to cause disaffection amongst our forces”. Both men were told to attend a military tribunal in which they were to “deny absolutely that Captain J. Murray ever stated to you that he shot the late lamented Mr. Lemass”. “Lemass is gone”, the document concluded, “and the earlier he is forgotten the better. Take due care that you do not meet the same fate”. (Irish Times October 16th 1923, 6).

The implication of the Free State Police Force in the murder of Noel Lemass was a serious blow to Cumann na nGaedheal’s self-image as the law and order party, but there was worse to follow. It also emerged at the inquest that a Government minister was most likely aware of the activities of Captain Murray. Indeed, the feeling was that Murray might well have been acting on unofficial orders, for while Murray was gathering information regarding republican activity he used the name of a Cabinet Minister as his postal address. Murray told Tuite that any information he came up with could be sent to him through government offices (Irish Times October 24th 1923, 9). The jury at the inquest did not find sufficient evidence to convict Murray, he would later receive the death penalty for a similar offence, but they did conclude that Noel Lemass was “brutally and wilfully murdered,” and were “convinced that armed forces of the State have been implicated in [his] removal and disappearance” (Irish Times October 24th 1923, 7).

By this time, Cumann nGaedheal’s law a nd order credentials were under serious scrutiny, and many felt that the government’s reticence in following up on Lemass’s disappearance was an attempt to cover up a quasi-official purge of republican elements that had been sanctioned at Ministerial level, by the Irish government. Cumann na nGaedheal had tried to characterise Irish republicans as the wild men screaming through keyholes, but the fate of Noel Lemass highlighted the fact that terrorism and violence were not the sole prerogative of republicans.

… The inquest was unable to conclude whether or not Lemass had been shot at Featherbed (as one pathologist, a D. Kelly thought) or was dumped there at some subsequent date having been immersed in water, in line with the testimony of Broderick and Tuite (Irish Times October 24th 1923, 7-9). For their part, the Lemass family believed that Noel’s body had been dumped in the Liffey as Captain Murray had claimed, and was subsequently moved to Featherbed when the Liffey was dredged at their request in mid-September.

… The formation of an unarmed police force was one of the extraordinary achievements of the Irish Free State (Griffin, 30). However, their reputation was tarnished in the nineteen twenties by the implication of elements of the Criminal Investigation Department in the disappearance of Noel Lemass, and there were other, similar incidents involving the disappearance of known republicans, including the horrific murder of Joseph Bergin for which the same Captain James Murray was sentenced to death in 1925 (MacEoin 1997, 90).

… As we have seen, Cumann na nGaedheal was and remained a one-issue party from its foundation (Regan, 317). However as the nineteen twenties rolled on Cumann na nGaedheal’s posturing as the law and order party grew increasingly difficult to accept, and was comprehensively discredited in the nineteen thirties by the foundation of the Blueshirts: a quasi-fascist organisation allied to Cumann na nGaedheal that was founded in response to growing republican disorder during the election

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campaigns of nineteen thirty one and thirty two. This was not a splinter group; Cumann na nGeadheal’s political leadership were heavily involved, justifying their involvement as a necessary response to the prospect of “failing law and order” (Regan, 327). At the same time, Cumann na nGaedheal also resorted to heavy-handed political tactics in an attempt to suppress republican disquiet, drafting a Public Safety Bill in 1931 that proposed to suspend habeas corpus and establish a Military Tribunal imbued with the power to fine, incarcerate and pass a death sentence on those found guilty of a political crime in a single sitting (Regan, 289). For a time, law and order were I short supply on all sides of the Irish Fee State.
 

References:

Connolly, Frank. ‘Noel Lemass’s Body was Found Beheaded’ in The Sunday Business Post (October 21st 2001), 7

Griffin, Brian ‘A Force Divided: Policing Ireland 1900-60’ in History Today 49.10 (1999), 25-31

MacEoin, Uinseann. Survivors (Argenta: Dublin, 1980)
‘Captives to History’ in The Irish Times (December 29th 1992), 13
– The IRA in the Twilight Years, 1923-48 (Argenta: Dublin, 1997)
Regan, John. The Irish Counter-Revolution, 1921-36 (Gill and MacMillian: Dublin 1999)