Sunday 22 July 2018

Remembering local man Tom Ryan who died on Bloody Sunday, 1920

Tom Ryan from Glenbrien was shot in Croke Park in 1920

Terry Dignan (grandson), Pat Mulvey (who's father was in Croke Park on the day) and Alec Ryan (nephew) outside the ancestral home of Tom Ryan at Ballydonfin, Glenbrien
Terry Dignan (grandson), Pat Mulvey (who's father was in Croke Park on the day) and Alec Ryan (nephew) outside the ancestral home of Tom Ryan at Ballydonfin, Glenbrien
Tom Ryan

Pádraig Byrne

November 21, marks 97 years since one of the darkest days in Ireland's War of Independence. Bloody Sunday got underway with Michael Collins ordering the assassination of the notorious 'Cairo gang' and ended with innocent civilians being shot to death by the RIC at a football match in Croke Park.

One of those caught in the crossfire on that fateful day was Glenbrien native Tom Ryan and now, with the 100th anniversary of his death rapidly approaching, members of the local community have put a committee together with the goal of commemorating him and his brave actions on Bloody Sunday,

The son of Matthew and Bridget Ryan, Tom was born and reared at the family home at Munroe, Glenbrien. He moved to Dublin at some point between 1915 and 1916 where he began working for Dublin Gas and married Mary Boland of Inch, Gorey. The pair had two children, Breda and Frances, who were reared at their home on Viking Road, Arbour Hill, Dublin. A republican who believed whole-heartedly in the cause of Irish freedom, Ryan was a member of the IRA and in 1919 he was involved in an operation at Collinstown Aerodrome which saw weapons and ammunition taken from government forces. He had risen through the ranks and was a section commander in the IRA when he was gunned down in Croke Park.

Ryan had received word at home about the killings on the other side of town that fateful morning and was warned to stay away from the match. With his two brothers up from Wexford, Tom wasn't about to miss the showdown between Tipperary and Dublin. He went along and when the gunfire opened up, he ran to downed Tipperary player Michael Hogan and whispered an Act of Contrition in his ear before he was hit with a bullet himself and slumped to the ground. He later died at Jervis Street Hospital and was buried at Glasnevin Cemetery.

The ancestral home of Tom Ryan is still standing in Glenbrien today and last week family members gathered with members of the local community who are determined to keep his name alive and remember the contribution he made to history. Terry Dignam, a grandson of Tom Ryan's, was delighted to travel from Blessington in Wicklow where he met with a nephew of Tom's, Alec Ryan who lives locally. They were also joined by Pat Mulvey, whose father was also present in Croke Park for the events of Bloody Sunday, and they took great interest in recounting the stories as they were passed down to them.

With the 100th anniversary of this major turning point in Irish history rapidly approaching, locals are determined to mark Tom's role in what was a major event in Irish history, and a committee has been formed which will meet again in December to discuss ways of doing this. Ryan's family are delighted that his brave actions that day are being remembered and noted for the record.

Enniscorthy Guardian