By Ivan Lennon
On 15 March, 1919, an ”unruly confrontation” occurred at the ornate Devonshire-built train station in Lismore (above) between the R.I.C. and supporters of Volunteers J.J. Madden, John Keyes and George Lennon. The trio had been charged, convicted, and sentenced (on March 12) to gaol, under the Defence of the Realm Act (D.O.R.A.), for unlawful assembly and drilling of the Volunteers. Eighteen-year-old Lennon had been “on the run” for nearly a year since an arrest warrant had been issued on April 11, 1918 subsequent to an April 6 riot at the Court House in Dungarvan.
As Tommy Mooney noted in the "Cry of the Curlew": At the train station, “the R.I.C. , however, backed off and the trio eventually were sent off to Cork with patriotic songs and much cheering and jeering” at the Constabulary.
At Cork Male Prison, as mandated by the Dublin GHQ order of August 1918, non-cooperation was the order of the day. The internees were under the overall command of Wexford’s Tom D. Sinnott (“prisoner officer commanding”) and, in Wing 10, by Kerry’s Charlie Daly (1923 “Drumboe Martyr”). Being in violation of prison rules, the men were removed to solitary confinement where, as Lennon noted, conditions were shockingly bad: “there was no heat of any kind,….beds were mere benches, barred windows were devoid of glass and food was of an appalling poor standard.” To add to their woes the men’s period of incarceration coincided with the last outbreak of the so called “Spanish Influenza” which killed upwards of 50 million world wide.
(Right: George Lennon.)
Shortly after his nineteenth birthday (26 May 1919), Lennon was prematurely released “in poor health.” He returned to his native Dungarvan where he was nursed back to health by the Whelans of nearby Ballyduff Lower and his widowed Cumann na mBan mother who fed him numerous “egg flips.”
Ivan Lennon, son of Irish Volunteer George Lennon, is a retired history teacher living in Rochester, N.Y. He was born during the “ The Emergency” years, at Dublin’s famed Rotunda Hospital, a stone’s throw from the G.P.O. where the Irish Republic was proclaimed during Easter Week 1916. Ivan is the author of a family history of the Shanahan and Lennon sides of his family. “Ulster to the Déise: Lennon's in Time” includes material on the War of Independence in County Waterford.
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