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Historic Tri-Colour

posted 25 Apr 2016, 15:12 by Edenderry GAA

A flag with a long History. Eamon O'Connell life long Edenderry GAA member and avid supporter was pictured on Sunday last with his 92 year old Tri-Colour.

The Tri-Colour was used as part of the funeral cortege of Eamon's uncle Tommy O'Connell Officer Commanding of the Carlow Brigade of the IRA. Tommy was tragically killed in a car accident in 1924 soon after the cessation of hostilities.

Some background on the Edenderry man is available on

Tommy O’Connell, Officer Commanding Carlow Brigade I.R.A. was accidentally killed on 31st August 1924. 

Tommy O’Connell who succeeded Eamon Malone of Barrowhouse as O.C. of the Carlow Brigade.  Previously, Tommy O’Connell held the position of Vice O.C. of the Brigade comprising six Battalions of which the 5th Battalion area included Athy, Kilkea, Castledermot, Ballylinan and Barrowhouse.  When the Civil War broke out Tommy O’Connell took the anti-treaty side and was imprisoned.  He escaped from jail and for quite a long time was on the run.  He survived the Civil War but did not feel able to return to his hometown of Edenderry until about six weeks before his untimely death.  Like many others who fought in the War of Independence or in the Civil War his health had been impaired as a result of the long periods spent on the run.  Before the commencement of hostilities he had worked as a French polisher and I believe that he was so employed again by Thomas Prendergast, Furniture Manufacturer of Carlow at the time of his death.

From the details given at the inquest, presided over by Dr. Jeremiah O’Neill of Athy, it would appear that the former I.R.A. leader accompanied two friends as they travelled by car to Garyhill, Bagenalstown.  On the return journey Christopher Pentony of New Road, Edenderry was driving and near to Maganey Railway Station a tyre burst and the car swerved to the right, hit the embankment, overturned and pinned Pentony and O’Connell underneath.  James McDonald who was sitting in the back seat was thrown free and he went for assistance.

Martin Fleming who lived in the area gave evidence at the Coroner’s Court of being awakened by McDonald around 3.00 a.m.  He went with him to the nearby house of Michael Carolan but got no-one there.  Both men then returned to the scene of the accident, with Fleming carrying a lighted candle which he was told to quench as petrol was spilling from the crashed car.  Unable to right the car, Fleming ran to Anthony’s house some distance away and with the help of Mr. Anthony and his son succeeded in turning over the car.  Dr. Francis Brennan of Castledermot who was called to the scene pronounced Tommy O’Connell dead.

News of O’Connell’s tragic accident was received in Athy and surrounding area with great sadness.  The Nationalist and Leinster Times reported that “the windows in Athy were shuttered all day on Monday in token of sympathy and great numbers joined the funeral cortege as it passed through the town on its way to Edenderry.”

Athy Urban District Council passed a vote of sympathy at its meeting that Monday night which was chaired by Thomas Corcoran and attended by Peter P. Doyle, Frank Jackson, James Dargan and Thomas O’Rourke.

Tommy O’Connell was buried at Monasteroris on Tuesday, 2ndSeptember 1924.  Death notices were inserted in the Nationalist and Leinster Times by several groups with which he had been associated including the Officers and Men of the 1st Battalion Carlow Brigade.  The Brigade staff inserted another notice, as did the Carlow Cumann na mBan.  Before the end of September 1924 a public meeting was held in Carlow for the purpose of raising funds to erect a memorial to the former I.R.A. Commander.