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Athlone Martyrs
In Proud Remembrance
January 20th 1923

)nun 20, 20J
Son costoLLo / mntin Iunson cumnn
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Thomas Hughes Executed in Athlone January 20, 1923
Michael Walsh Executed in Athlone January 20, 1923
Herbert Collins Executed in Athlone January 20, 1923
Stephen Joyce Executed in Athlone January 20, 1923
Martin Burke Executed in Athlone January 20, 1923
January 2013
January 20th 2013 marks the 90th Anniversary of the execution of Thomas
Hughes, Michael Walsh, Hubert Collins, Stephen Joyce and Martin Burke in
Athlone Military Barracks on January 20th 1923.
These Volunteers of glaigh na h-ireann, the Irish Republican Army were
executed because of their involvement in the war in defence of the Irish
Republic the Republic declared at the Dublin GPO, Easter 1916 and
established on January 21st 1919. They rejected the British solution to the
conflict in Ireland. This solution was the partition of Ireland and the
introduction of two British States in Ireland, the 26 County Irish Free
State and the 6 County Northern Ireland.
The betrayal of the 32 County Republic that began with Michael Collins in
1921 was joined by others down the years, prominent among them were
Eamonn De Valera and Fianna Fail in 1926 and Gerry Adams and the
Provisionals in 1986. All those who entered the British imposed
partitionist assembly of Leinster House broke faith with the Irish Republic
and became part of the murderous Free State regime upholding British
rule in Ireland.
November 1922 marked the initiation by the Pro Treaty Government of a
policy of Official executions of republican prisoners. Starting November
17th 1922 and ending on May 2nd 1923 the Free State (26 County State)
executed 77 Republicans. The Free State executed three times as many
Irish men in that time than the British did in the Tan War, 1920-21.

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Along with the official executions there were 124 unauthorised killings or
wayside murders as Brian OHiggins referred to them in his Wolfe Tone
Annual of 1962. The State attempted to cover up many of these actions
with excuses such as shot while trying to escape.
Locally, such murders carried out by members of the Free State (26
County) Army were Toby Mannion at the Hill of Berries. Christy Kit
McKeown in Moate and Dick Bertles shot dead while standing at the
counter of Cunninghams public house in Ballymore.
The blood lust of the 26 County State did not end there with the ending of
hostilities, in 1923 we can remember others like Richard Goss executed on
the 9th of August 1940 and Paddy McGrath and Thomas Harte executed 6th
September 1940.
George Plant was executed on March 5th. Charlie Kerins was executed by
way of a British Hangman imported by De Valeras Fianna Fil
On this the 90th anniversary of the executions of the Athlone Martyrs it
may be a good time to look at the role played by the 26 County State
alongside the British State in denying the right of the Irish people to
national self determination and sovereignty.
An Phoblacht Ab
Ciaran Dolan, Runa,
Sen Costello / Martin Hurson Cumann,
Republican SINN FIN Poblachtach,
Athlone / th Luain.

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Thomas Hughes, Michael Walsh, Hubert Collins,
Stephen Joyce, and Martin Burke.
There were five executions on the 20th of
January 1923 in Athlone, where the Western
Command of the army was being entangled in
the web. They are of particular interest to us
because all five had Galway or Western
connections, as had the sixth person, General
Tom Maguire, TD who was also sentenced to
death, but possibly because of his status as TD
the death sentence was not carried out in his
case. On Saturday January 20th, 1923 those five
men were taken out in Custume Barracks,
Athlone, lined by a wall and, on the orders of
Highest Command in the Free State Forces,
Their relatives were not informed until at the
earliest, 6p.m., in the case of Captain Hughess family which lived nearby, some
ten hours later. The Connacht Tribune of the following Saturday, April 14th
describes the event.
The condemned men went to their doom firmly and with brave hearts. They
had been attended during the night by two priests and in the morning heard
Mass, at which two of them served. The priests were with them to the last.
The news of the executions cast a gloom over the people who could hardly realise
what awful happening had taken place in their midst that morning. About 8 a.m.
two volleys were fired and it is stated that the condemned men were taken out in
parties of three each and blind folded and their hands joined in prayer. They had
prayed fervently during the night before and in the morning and were fully
consoled, prepared to meet their Creator. The six bodies enclosed in six coffins
were interned in the ground with-in the Barracks and it is stated that the ground
was consecrated.
On October 28th 1924, the Free State released the bodies of the executed soldiers
of the Republic. Some 20 bodies, those executed in Tuam, Athlone, Drumboe,
Tullamore, Birr and Tralee were released through the back gate of Custume
Barracks, Athlone at ten minute intervals.
(From Civil War in Connacht and Seventy-Seven who died for Ireland)
Comdt. General Tom Maguire
Patron of Republican Sinn Fin at the time of his
death in 1993 and a lifelong faithful republican.
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Mairfidh A Chuimhne Go Brgh
Thomas Hughes

Lieutenant Commandant, O/C. Munitions, and Western Division, IRA.
Formerly Captain and attached to 3rd Engineers Dublin Brigade, and O/C.
Munitions, Athlone Brigade.
He was the eldest son Mr. Patrick and Mrs Hughes of Bogginfin, Athlone.
He has been on the run for seven months and was captured by the
National troops on December 20 at Currahan the previous year and it was
not until 6p.m. on the day of his execution that his afflicted parents were
officially notified of the event.
He was charged by a Committee of being in possession without proper
authority of arms and ammunition. On being blindfolded he shook hands
with some of the captors requesting them to inform his mother that his last
thoughts were of her. On October 30th 1924 his body was re-interred in
Cornamagh Cemetery.

Cornamagh Cemetery, Athlone. Wreathe laid by
the Irish Republican Movement at Easter 2012.
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In Undying Memory
Michael Walsh

V.C., 2nd Battalion No. 1 Brigade, 2nd. Western Division.
Born Derrymore, Co. Galway. Executed Athlone, January 20, 1923.

Letter to his parents
January 19th 1923.
Dear Loving Parents,
Parents dear, do not be overcome at this, for I am quite resigned to my fate.
We had a priest in to hear our Confessions and we are to hear Mass in the
morning and receive Holy Communion.

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In Loving Memory
Herbert Collins

Born Kicked, Headword, Co. Galway. Captured at Currahan and executed in Athlone on
20th January 1923. Buried Donaghpatrick Cemetery, Headford. His offence being in
possession without proper authority of arms and ammunition. He was tried by

His last letter
Garrison Detention,
Custume Barracks, Athlone,
19th January 1923.
My dearest Mother
I again write you a few lines, but oh, Mother it is going to be the last. The last
word to you on this side of the grave, as I am going to meet my great God tomorrow
morning. But Mother dear dont grieve for me as I am prepared to meet him who
created me, to his likeness. But dear mother I know it shall grieve you all, but I ask one
request of you not to worry but to pray for me because one prayer goes longer for me
than all the sad tears that a nation could shed.
I am fully prepared for what poor Thomas wasnt. * Just yesterday two years he
was put before the firing squad. And I hope to be with him by the time you get this
letter. Oh, how happy he shall be to see me.
Dearest Mother I am sending you my Rosary beads. The beads I got from Father
Kearney the day of Thomas funeral. I know that I have died for the same ideal that he
died for.
Dear Mother I now finish by sending you dear mother my best love and also to
Cissie, James and Joe. I shall write to them also.
So cheer up now and we shall meet again in that happy land where there is no
pain. Again I ask you all not to worry over this.

Goodbye and God bless you,

* Thomas was shot by the British in Headford on 22nd of January 1921.

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Stephen Joyce

Quartermaster 1st Battalion, No. 1 Brigade, 2nd Western Division.
Attached to No. 1 A.S.U., since start of recent hostilities.

Born Derrymore, Caherlistraine, Co. Galway. He was charged by a
Committee of being in possession without proper authority of arms and
ammunition. He was executed in Athlone, January 20, 1923.

Dear Mother,

I am bidding you a last farewell in this little note. This has been the result
of your teaching to me. You often told me of those brave deeds done by
Irishmen. By this you aroused in me a spirit that could never be
extinguished until the last drop of my blood should issue from my veins.
Since this has been the case, I hope you will not grieve for me.
I hope our blood will satisfy their blood lust and that peace will soon
come to poor Ireland, and that we may be the last to suffer in her cause.


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Glr Don Athair
Martin Burke

O/C. A.S. Unit, No. 3 Brigade and Western Division.
He was captured at Downdallshill and executed Athlone 20th January 1923.
The charge against him was possession without proper authority of arms
and ammunition.

Letter to his cousin, Kathleen
Custume Barracks,
Friday night, January 20th 1923.
Dear Kathleen,
I suppose you heard my fate before this reaches you. I would not die without
writing to Ballinapark the spot I love best. But I bid goodbye for the last time on New
Years Eve, But goodbye to Aunt Delia, Nora, May, Uncle Jack and poor Patrick. I am
happy for we got a fair chance; we had the priest and will hear Mass in the morning. Ill
see you reading this. Ill be singing with the angels when you are reading this. I am
enclosing my beads as a keepsake. I am happy as I write this; I hope ye will remember
me in your prayers. Will you drop a note to Daniel and tell him Ill die game...
Remember me as the wild boy of the family. Tell all the boys to pray for me.
Goodbye all,
From your darling cousin,
M.J. Burke.

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Teagmhil / Contact
Republican SINN FIN Poblachtach
Athlone / th Luain

Contact RSF in Westmeath;

089 412 5973

Contact RSF in the 26 Counties;
Teach Dith Conaill
223 Srid Pharnell,
BC 1, ire.
Teil: 872 97 47

Contact RSF in the Occupied 6 Counties;
Oifig Bhal Feirste,
229 Bthar na bhFl,
Bel Feirste,
BT12 6FB.
Teil: 9031 9004

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