Brian Dunne (b. 1943) (with James Durney, Librarian, Kildare Co. Council), Maeve MacGearailt (b. 1940)
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Brian Dunne (b. 1943) (with James Durney, Librarian, Kildare Co. Council), Maeve MacGearailt (b. 1940)


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Brian Dunne recalls his grandfather, Pat Dunne, and his family which included Brian’s father Jimmy who often spoke about his own father’s involvement in the 1916 Rising. Pat Dunne’s role in the Rising is described. He served as Captain of Kill Company Irish Volunteers. Brian recalls an event which occurred at Greenhills involving an attack on the British Army. Another event which involved Lord Palmerston is also described. James Durney explains that once word had come through of the Countermanding Order issued by Eoin McNeill at Easter 1916, Kill Company was stood down. When the Rising broke out on Easter Monday confusion reigned, and nothing was really to occur in Co. Kildare. Pat Dunne and his son Jimmy were active in 1917 when the IRA and Sinn Féin were reorganised. James Durney describes an event during the 1918 election in which Pat Dunne was injured. Brian feels that his grandfather and his father were motivated by patriotism, and remarks that they were influenced by Fenian, John Devoy, who was his great-great-granduncle. Devoy was born and reared in Greenhills near where the Dunnes later lived. Brian explains that he had not realised the extent of his grandfather’s participation in the revolutionary period until he read his father’s witness statement. James Durney details some of this participation, including events at the Greenhills Ambush. Most of the members of Kill Company were involved, and the action was followed by retaliation by the Black and Tans. Shortly afterwards, Pat Dunne was arrested and interned at the Curragh. Jimmy Dunne submitted a witness statement which covered the period 1917 to 1923. He was very active during the Civil War, and Brian recalls his opposition to the Treaty and his support of de Valera. Later, people would call to the family home over time because he was involved with applications for military pensions. Brian considers that although his grandfather and father often operated together, his father was more active possibly owing to his youth. At one time Jimmy was on the run and he hid in a local farmhouse which was owned by Frank Meagher. James Durney explains that after Bloody Sunday in November 1920, a general roundup took place around the country and Pat Dunne was arrested. Jimmy Dunne was on the run at this time. He was arrested outside Sallins during the Civil War and he broke out of Dundalk Jail and led a group home to Kildare. He was very active in the Naas general area during the Civil War. Jimmy did not speak to his son about his revolutionary activities, though Brian remembers that his father had five guns in the house which were taken to Northern Ireland in 1956 by Frank Driver. James Durney remarks that Driver was a life-long republican and one of the youngest men interned in 1921 at the Rath Camp on the Curragh while still in his early teens. He died in 1983. Brian explains that his grandfather died at the age of 77 in 1955, though he has no memory of the funeral. He describes his father’s funeral in 1973, an event which was quite controversial at the time. Brian and his cousin Enda Bracken fired shots over the grave, and Brian provides the reason for this, saying that he is proud of his actions though he was terrified at the time as he had never fired a revolver before. Brian has his father’s military medals which are very important to him. Jimmy Dunne’s attitude to de Valera and his feelings about him in later life are explored. He supported Sinn Féin and the IRA in the more recent Troubles. Brian remembers his father as a quiet but tenacious man. He was the father of seven children. Maeve MacGearailt (née Dunne), who became a teacher, discusses her father and his support for republicanism. She remembers him as being adamant in his opposition to the Treaty but he did not support Fianna Fáil after the Troubles began in the North. Her understanding is that the men of Kill Company were ready to march to Dublin at Easter 1916 until news of the Countermanding Order arrived, and the group disbanded. Her father was only 15 when he joined the IRA and most of his involvement came during the Civil War. He was on the run for a long period with Paddy Brennan who died in the late 1950s or early 1960s. She feels that the men’s health must have been affected by their time on the run. Maeve reads from Jimmy Dunne’s witness statement the section relating to Easter 1916. The Traynor brothers are mentioned, along with James Kelly who was employed by her father in his sand and gravel company. In the 1917 section of the statement, Thomas Laffan, a cousin of her grandfather, is mentioned. Maeve recalls Kit Mills who was a relative of Charlie McCreevy. Jimmy Dunne was only 14 years old at the time of the Rising and Maeve says that her grandfather never discussed his role in 1916. She feels that both he and her father were disappointed at the outcome following the confusion caused by the Countermanding Order. She recalls the fact that her father had indicated that he did not wish Free State personnel to fire over his coffin at his funeral, so the family organised events so that Brian and his cousin, Enda Bracken, would do so, using their respective fathers’ guns. Maeve is proud to have her grandfather’s decommissioned pistol from 1916 and his medals, but she says that she becomes angry when she reads statements indicating that the sacrifices of those people were unnecessary and even criminal. She discusses the influences brought to bear on her father and grandfather, particularly that of John Devoy who was her grandfather’s cousin and whose family lived in the house beside her grandparents. She explains the reason why John Devoy was exiled and was unable to take part in the Rising, and she reads from a letter written by her father detailing the history and background to the struggle for freedom by Devoy. In this document her father mentions Devoy’s autobiography, in which her great-grandfather John Dunne’s part in the battle of Rathsalla is mentioned. Her uncle, Dick Dunne, who was also involved in Ireland’s struggle for independence is mentioned, and she remembers these men as being bitter about the Civil War. Maeve’s mother came from Limerick city and she was closely related to the O’Rahilly family, so she explains that her family was also influenced by the maternal side. She reads the obituary published following the death of her father in 1973 and she also recalls her grandfather’s funeral in 1955. Maeve had a career in teaching initially, and during this time she was a member of the Sinn Féin political party, though when her career in the Revenue Commissioners began, membership of a political party was not possible. While she can understand why the Troubles in the North broke out, she feels that the modern IRA dishonours the name of those who went before. A book written by the late Tony Carr from Kill, which included material relating to Jimmy Dunne and the Dunne family, is discussed.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The 1916 Rising Oral History Collections


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

50.99 MB

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Pat Dunne (Interviewees’ grandfather), Jimmy Dunne (Interviewees’ father)

Recorded by:

Maurice O’Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore