Friday 14 December 2018

New film from Dundalk maker

Dundalk film-maker Marcus Howard
Dundalk film-maker Marcus Howard

Anne Campbell

Dundalk documentary maker Marcus Howard is rounding off a remarkable 1916 centenary year by uncovering new details about the time War of Independence heroes Dan Breen and Sean Treacy spent in Dundalk gaol after the Rising, during which Breen went on hunger strike.

Marcus's new film is called Dan Breen and Sean Treacy documentary part 1 and features members of Treacy's family and well known historians on the Youtube channel Easter Rising Stories.

Marcus is also a relative of Arthur Greene who was one of the Louth Volunteers involved in 1916 and the Irish War of Independence. He was invited to London to give two talks on Michael Collins this year and will be giving more in 2017.

He has also given talks and shown his films in Galway and Dublin. There is also a film which was premiered to 1916 relatives shown in Liberty Hall this summer highlighting the event where members of the GPO garrison held in the GPO on Easter Monday 2016.

Marcus's film details how, around the middle of November 1917, the prisoners rounded up after the Rising were removed to Dundalk gaol. The concessions the hunger strikers were granted after Thomas Ashe had died were not adhered to in Dundalk.

A new hunger strike began in Dundalk gaol. The hunger strikers included Austin Stack, Sean Treacy, Michael Brennan and J.J. Walsh and lasted eight days. The prisoners were released in batches under The Cat and Mouse Act.

Treacy was one of the first to be released from Dundalk as the prison doctor was alarmed at his condition. On February 28 1918, Treacy was rearrested and brought back to Dundalk. One of the first things he did was to continue the hunger strike. During the strike, Tipperary Volunteers, Dan Breen and Maurice Crowe were planning to free Treacy from Dundalk. Initially the plan was to capture and keep hostage two R.I.C. officers but this plan fell through and they decided to travel to Dundalk and blow a hole through the prison wall. The plan was laid out by Frank Thornton.

The volunteers were coming by train to Dundalk but the escape plan was abandoned when the hunger strike was called off. Maurice Crowe and Dan Breen visited Treacy in prison and kept in contact by letters smuggled undercover through Dundalk volunteer James McGuill and Angela Mathews.

Military classes were again lead under the guise of Irish classes by Dick McKee (who ends up being tortured and killed in Dublin Castle on Bloody Sunday 1920). While in Dundalk, Maurice Crowe remained in contact with the Tipperary Volunteers.

Treacy's letters from Dundalk gaol have stated: 'Deport all in favour of the enemy out of the country, deal sternly with those who try to resist. Maintain the strictest discipline'. Another letter to his uncle Micael Allis from Spring 1918 has stated: 'When I am released, I shall at once devote all of my time to the furtherance of the cause in the best way I can'.

On January 21 1919 he helped kick start the Irish War of Independence along with Dan Breen with the Solohead Beg ambush which took place on the same day as the First Dáil met in the Mansion House and declared an independent Irish Republic. Treacy became part of The Big Four and engaged in missions for Michael Collins before his death when he was shot on Talbot Street in 1920.

The film can be seen here:

Irish Independent