Maura Balfe
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Maura Balfe


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Henry Christopher Lee was born at Windy Arbour, Dundrum in Dublin. His father Henry was a member of a large family and he worked as a builder’s labourer. The family was educated at Milltown. The family home still remains and is occupied by a cousin of Maura Balfe. Henry Lee enlisted in the British Army during WWI. He was injured in France and was sent to Knaphill, Woking in Aldershot to recover, where he met his Surrey born wife-to-be. Henry was a Corporal in the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers and the couple married in 1920. After their return to Ireland, Henry joined the IRA, a fact his daughter Maura was not aware of until after his death. He was a member of the Second Eastern Division, No. 2 Brigade. Maura reads from a reference which accompanied her father’s application for membership of the Civic Guard. This certifies that Henry Lee had been a member of the IRA for four years. His application was successful and he retired from the Garda Siochána in 1960. She reads her father’s application for a service medal, and explains that unfortunately by the time the medal was sanctioned Henry Lee had died. She details some of the places where he was stationed during his service with the Garda Siochána, and she remembers him as a quiet man. It would appear that he joined the IRA in about 1918. Amongst his belongings Maura discovered a book of rules relating to the National Association of the Old IRA. Another document, stamped by the office of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland in December 1914, indicated that he had been involved in outdoor work. Maura thinks that this document is a reference to accompany his application to join the British Army. Henry’s younger brother William also joined the British Army and Maura discusses the probable financial reasons why her father and uncle enlisted during WWI. Henry Lee opposed the Treaty and was a strong supporter of Fianna Fáil all his life. Maura explains that she has researched her father’s history at the Military Archives at Cathal Brugha Barracks in Dublin. She describes her father as an imposing and strongly disciplined man. Neither her father nor her mother spoke within the family about his life in the British Army. Her mother, Lily Emma Bigwood, was a member of the Church of England though she converted to Catholicism on her marriage.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The 1916 Rising Oral History Collections


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

29.96 MB

Number of files:
Product ID:



Henry C. Lee (Interviewee’s father)

Recorded by:

Maurice O’Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore