Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Martin Rooney, Irish Volunteer

Martin Rooney was my grand-uncle, my grandmother Mary-Anne Quinns brother. 

In1853 the Rooney family was evicted from their congested tenant farm at Moneyteige, Craughwell and were forced to move to Athenry Town, living on vacant land opposite what is now Kenny Park. Sometime later the family was granted land through the Land Commission at Cahercrin, Craughwell and setup a farm there, it is still in the Rooney Family today.

I believe as a result of the eviction the family were radicalized and became involved in the Land War. Martin and his brother John joined the Irish Volunteers and were part of the 1916 Easter Rising in Co Galway. As a result, both were interned in Frongoch, Wales along with ~1800 other Irish Rebels including 322 from Co Galway. They were released from Frongoch by Christmas 1916.

The War of Independence was relatively quiet in East Galway, probably as most of the IRA were known to the police after the 1916 roundups. Saying that the Rooney farm was continuously raided by the police and Black and Tans with the result that the brothers had to spend most of their time camped out on a remote part of the farm. The women of the family had to bare the brunt of these raids and it is said that my grandmother always dealt with the soldiers but never gave them the satisfaction of showing she was afraid. Martin was involved in the raids on Bookeen and Coldwood RIC barricks.

When the Civil War came Martin sided with the Free State and joined the National Army. He became a Battalion Commandant and died in an ambush at Cashla, Athenry in July 1922.