Adhamhnán Ó Súilleabháin (b. 1941)
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Adhamhnán Ó Súilleabháin (b. 1941)


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Adhamhnán Ó Súilleabháin outlines the details of his relationship to Domhnall Ua Buachalla, explaining that his mother Bríghid was one of Domhnall’s three daughters. He also had four sons. His father, Cornelius, had moved from near Mallow, Co. Cork, in about 1851, and his wife was Sarah Jacob, a member of the Quakers. Cornelius was born in 1828 and left home for Maynooth where he started a retail business. His son Domhnall was born there in 1866. Adhamhnán explains that Domhnall was considering a career in Customs and Excise but when his father became ill he took over the family business. He married Jane (later known as Sineád) Walsh in 1897. In his witness statement, Domhnall Ua Buachalla stated that he had never learnt anything about his native culture and language while in school. From the early days of the Gaelic League he was involved. He set up the Cumann in Maynooth and he brought P. H. Pearse to speak to the members. Adhamhnán recalls the fact that Domhnall was involved in a court case because his name was written in Irish on his carts, and says that Pearse was his acting barrister in that case. Adhamhnán describes his grandfather as a cultural nationalist. Domhnall’s son Joe attended St Enda’s from 1908 onwards. Adhamhnán talks about his grandfather’s development towards rebellion and how he has discovered details of this transition through his researches and from family lore. He explains how the relationship between Domhnall and Pearse developed and how their nationalist beliefs were strengthened. Adhamhnán recalls that his great-grandfather, Cornelius Buckley, was a member of the IRB and was very much involved with the GAA. Domhnall played Gaelic games, was a member of Sinn Féin and was opposed to the stance taken by Redmond. Adhamhnán describes his grandfather as instrumental in bringing together the Maynooth group which engaged in preparations for rebellion in 1916. He manufactured the shot in his house and collected together the firearms. The house stood on the main street in Maynooth, and the family lived over the shop. Domhnall had stored the ammunition and guns behind false walls at the house in readiness for the Rising. His close colleagues were Tom Harris and Patrick Colgan. Closer to Easter 1916 Tom Byrne was sent to Kildare to bring his Boer War experience to bear in organising the group. The march to Dublin for the Rising was led by Tom Byrne. Adhamhnán describes the doubts which arose following the issuing of the Countermanding Order and his grandfather’s journey to Dublin, where he discovered that the Rising was in progress. On his return to Maynooth with the news, Tom Byrne rallied the men for the march to Dublin late on Easter Monday. The arrival of the Maynooth group at the GPO early on Tuesday morning is described. Their first action was to rescue a group at the Evening Mail office and return to the GPO. Adhamhnán explains that Domhnall, who was a very good shot, was ordered to several places. The Maynooth group did not suffer any casualties during the week. Adhamhnán recalls his grandfather whom he knew well, and he discusses his relationship with him, describing him as a quiet man. He never spoke about 1916, and his daughter Bríd told Adhamhnán and his siblings about the lead up to the Rising and her father’s later imprisonment. In 1935 Domhnall ua Buachalla gave his medal, gun and personal memorabilia to the National Museum. He applied for and received a service pension for his part in 1916. Adhamhnán recalls his grandfather’s role in the War of Independence, and says that he was very active in the Maynooth area. The destruction of the Town Hall in Maynooth and Domhnall’s part in this action are described. His grandfather’s destruction of his own house to put it beyond use by the Black and Tans is remembered, as is the family’s fear of the crown forces. Domhnall was opposed to the Treaty and was arrested on the first day of the Civil War. Adhamhnán explains his grandfather’s reasons for adopting this position, saying that Domhnall would not have been happy with the Free State and was to be particularly critical of the fact that various governments did not sufficiently promote the Irish language when in power. Adhamhnán describes his grandfather’s witness statement to the Bureau of Military History which relates in particular to the 1916 Rising. His son, Joe Ua Buachalla, and his role in 1916 is recalled. After the Rising Joe became a member of the Irish Volunteers and took part in the War of Independence. Adhamhnán recalls his activities and also his arrest and imprisonment. Domhnall’s son-in-law, Mick O’Neill from Kenmare, who was described as the most dangerous man in Kildare, is recalled. Domhnall was arrested at Kilcock with Mick O’Neill and Paddy Mullany in the early days of the Civil War. His grandson explains that Frank Aiken then blew up the barracks in Dundalk and released Domhnall and others. Domhnall travelled alone to Dublin and remained on the run for almost the duration of the Civil War. He was interned towards the end of the war and was to lose his Dáil seat in the 1922 election. He was elected as a Fianna Fáil TD in the 1927 election. He was appointed Governor-General of the Irish Free State, and his grandson explains De Valera’s plan to abolish the office. Domhnall’s residence as Governor-General was a rented house in Monkstown, Co. Dublin. Adhamhnán compares the previous holder of the position with his grandfather who, with the agreement of de Valera, acted solely as a figurehead. In 1936, he signed the order for the abolition of his own office. Adhamhnán stated that while Domhnall hated the process, he agreed with the result. Adhamhnán is working on a biography of his grandfather. He discusses Domhnall’s character and demeanour, describing him as relaxed and in control. His colleagues in the Dáil are remembered, and Adhamhnán considers a letter written to his grandfather by Cathal Brugha. His grandfather’s thoughts on the signing of the Treaty are explored, and his participation in Dáil debates is recalled. Domhnall Ua Buachalla’s papers are now in Kilmainham Museum. Adhamhnán explains that his biography of his grandfather will be entitled Domhnall Ua Buachalla: rebellious nationalist, reluctant governor. He recalls his grandfather as being very active in retirement. Two of his friends, Fr Jack Kelly and Fr Petie Jacob, would say Mass in the oratory at his home in Donnybrook. Another friend was Matt Feehan, editor of the Sunday Press. Adhamhnán recalls a series of articles about the 1916 Rising in that newspaper and says that Matt Feehan used his grandfather as a source at that time.

Additional information



Audio series:

The 1916 Rising Oral History Collections


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

48.31 MB

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Domhnall Ua Buachalla (Interviewee’s grandfather)

Recorded by:

Maurice O’Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore