Tom Batt O’Connor (1907-2001)
10.0020.00 Select options

Tom Batt O’Connor (1907-2001)


Want unlimited access to the Irish Life and Lore Oral History Archive? Subscribe by purchasing Gold Subscription, Silver Subscription or Bronze Subscription!

In 2001, which was the year of his death, the family of the late Tom Batt O’Connor contacted me to suggest that his memories should be recorded, as he had some very interesting facts to relate about historical events in Kerry and he was now in the later years of his long life. I made immediate plans to meet him at his home in Glenagealt, and despite his deafness, he was a most fascinating person to interview and to record. Tom Batt was born in July 1907 and at four years of age he remembered the trauma and excitement locally when the Tralee to Dingle train was blown off the tracks at Camp in a gust of wind. He recalled the train journey to Tralee which he frequently made, about the absolute necessity of the train service, and he recalled that ladies were charged 3d for the trip from Camp to Tralee and men were allowed to travel free! The train would always slow down at the Railway Bar in Camp for the agile among the passengers to alight for refreshments, and on one memorable occasion he recalled local man Jimmy O’Connor raising his voice to sing an old Fenian ballad from earlier historic days. He clearly recalled hearing about the Rising in Dublin at Easter 1916, and he told me that at that time in Camp, people involved with Sinn Féin would regularly make Republican speeches. The speakers would duly be arrested and amongst them was local man Teddy Cronin, who languished in jail for a year as a result of his oratory. There were five RIC officers stationed at Camp, and some local wit composed a ditty about these gentlemen which Tom had no hesitation in reciting for me: “Buckley is a gentleman Barney is a spy Phelan is a traitor and a traitor he will die, Not forgetting Shelbourne And Burke is worst of all He made the people shiver when he came from Annascaul.” When Tom Batt was thirteen years old, he recalled one day seeing trenches which had been dug across the roads on both the Tralee and Castlegregory sides of the village of Camp. There were also sandbags in evidence near the RIC barracks and it was obvious that something was afoot. That night, the shooting started and continued all night. The IRA had planted a bomb up the chimney in the barracks, but as it was poorly positioned, it succeeded merely in blowing a hole in the outer wall. Towards morning, the firing ceased and the RIC men made good their escape to Tralee, and did not return to their barracks in Camp again. The O’Connor home in Glenagealt was a safe house for the IRA during the Civil War, and it was a busy house during those years. One occasion stayed in Tom Batt’s memory. He vividly recalled an IRA man helping his father to pick potatoes, and having spotted the Free State Forces approach instantly gathered his meagre belongings and was gone in seconds. Tom Batt had many fascinating details and events to relate about the years 1916 to 1923 and I am very glad that I was afforded the opportunity to interview this marvellous raconteur prior to his death which occurred shortly after the recording was made.

Additional information



Audio series:

Witnesses to Independence


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

58.79 MB

Number of files:


Product ID:



Events in Camp

Recorded by:

Eddie Barrett (grand-nephew of Austin Stack)