Gabriel Kelly (b. 1935)
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Gabriel Kelly (b. 1935)


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Gabriel Kelly explains that his father, Richard Kelly, worked as a farm labourer, and that Thomas Ashe, who was a teacher at Corduff National School, recruited many men from this part of Fingal prior to the Rising. The men were trained for a period and when the call came at Easter 1916, Richard Kelly was ordered initially to the GPO and then to the Mendicity Institute. His brother Thomas was in Ashbourne. Richard Kelly surrendered under the leadership of Seán Heuston. Once a man was caught carrying arms the sentence was death, but in Richard’s case this was commuted, his son explains. He discusses Richard’s time at Frongoch Camp, and possibly at Lewes Prison. The men were later relocated to Ballykinlar, with a stint at Mountjoy Prison. After Richard’s release in 1919 he returned to his previous employment at the farm and later joined the Irish Army. Gabriel mentions the Remount Farm in Lusk which had been occupied by the British Army when it was used in breaking and training horses for WWI. The horses were sent by train from Lusk to Dublin and thence to England. Gabriel details the use of the farm by the British Army, and explains that, following Independence, it was taken over by the Board of Works and was let out by conacre. In the 1960s, the farm was broken into smaller holdings by the Land Commission and Richard Kelly acquired a small holding in the area. With the signing of the Treaty, Richard Kelly joined the Free State Army, as did his brother Thomas. When Thomas contracted TB he was sent to Switzerland for his health, but died in the late 1920s as a result of the illness. Gabriel explains that huts were built on family property in order to keep the patients in isolation, and further explains that their sister Marcella, who had taken care of Thomas, also died of the illness. Gabriel discusses the difficult days during the War of Independence and the Civil War, and says that he regrets the fact that he did not question his father further while he was alive. He describes how he first discovered the story of the truncheon from the Battle of Ashbourne, kept by his uncle Tommy. He recounts an anecdote relating to his invalid aunt Kitty when she was a child, and Thomas Ashe’s efforts to get her to school. He discusses a photograph taken in 1966 when Éamon de Valera visited Corduff School, an event also attended by Ashe’s sister, Nora. The Black Raven Pipe Band was formed by Ashe and is still going strong, explains Gabriel. He mentions his involvement in attempts to erect a plaque at the Mendicity Institute, and his hope that the Black Raven Pipe Band will play on that occasion. Gabriel recalls the events at the 1916 commemoration in 1966 during which a civic reception for the surviving insurgents was held. His parents were in attendance, and Richard often spoke about the event afterwards. The family have his medals for 1916, the Black and Tan, and the 1966 anniversary medal. Richard Kelly made a statement to the Bureau of Military History, and Gabriel expresses his pride in being the son of a man who fought for the freedom of his country. He is remembered as a very nice, decent man and his son has many pleasant memories of him, including his singing of Irish ballads to entertain the family at evening, before the advent of television. Gabriel’s mother, Elizabeth Doyle, came from Rathmines, and he believes that his parents met when Richard was based at Collins Barracks in Dublin. Other than at the 1966 event, Gabriel says that he does not remember his father meeting up with his comrades, emphasising the fact that travel was more difficult in those days. He does remember a Mr Taylor from Swords who called to the house when his father was ill. Richard Kelly’s application for the Old IRA pension is examined, and Gabriel describes some family photographs. His grandfather, John Kelly, also worked as a farm labourer and he died in the year Gabriel was born. Thomas Ashe and Corduff National School are mentioned and Gabriel remembers his aunt Kitty speaking about the time when Ashe first came to Corduff in about 1908. He lodged locally and he rode a motorbike. The other teacher in the school was Mary Monks.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The 1916 Rising Oral History Collections


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

33.48 MB

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Richard Kelly (Interviewee’s father)

Recorded by:

Maurice O’Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore