|General Eoin O'Duffy|
Eoin O'Duffy was born at Cargaghdoo, Lough Egish, Co. Monaghan on 30th October 1892. He became a leading light in the struggle for independence in Monaghan and the adjoining counties during the 1918-21 period. He was one of the most prominent figures in the history of the GAA in Ulster. Having qualified as an engineer, he worked as a surveyor with Monaghan County Council in the Clones area. He was involved in the Irish Volunteers from a young age and by September 1918, he had been appointed Brigade Officer for Monaghan, having displayed great qualities as an organizer. His deputy was Dan Hogan, a native of Curasilla, Grangemockler, Co.Tipperary, who was employed as a clerk with Monaghan County Council. Dan Hogan's brother, Michael, was shot dead by a gang of British Army Auxiliaries while playing in a football match for Tipperary against Dublin in Croke Park in November 1920. O'Duffy was appointed Secretary of the Monaghan County Board in 1912 when only 20 years of age. He was appointed Ulster Secretary the following year and remained in that position until 1923. He was Treasurer of the Ulster Council from 1925 until 1934. He was jailed in 1918 and released the following year. On 4th August 1918, he organized "Gaelic Sunday" in defiance of the authorities who had banned the Ulster final from being played in Clones the previous month. On the 4th August, 100,000 players were involved in the playing of GAA games at venues throughout the country.
O'Duffy led a group of Volunteers from companies in Monaghan and South Armagh in an attack on Ballytrain RIC barracks on 13th February 1920. At the Ulster convention of that year, which took place at Conlan's Hotel Clones, he escaped arrest by using a disguise, however he was arrested while attending the reconvened convention in Armagh. He went on hunger strike with the Monaghan prisoners in Crumlin Road Prison until they were finally released.
During the Civil War, O'Duffy was OC of the Southern Command of the National Army. The anti-treatyites, in defying Dail Eireann and the votes of the Irish people, set about attempting to destroy the fledgling state by carrying out atrocities against its institutions, public servants and civilians. With the country facing into the abyss, the army responded at times in a brutal fashion. This happened mainly in Kerry where the Dublin Brigade led by Captain Paddy Daly was involved. General O'Duffy later became Chief of Staff of the National Army to be followed by his appointment as Commissioner of the Garda Siochana. He was Chief Marshall at the Catholic Emancipation Centenary celebrations in 1929 and again at the Eucharistic Congress in 1932. He was dismissed from his post by Eamonn DeValera on 22nd February 1933. I will later quote extracts from a letter to the media by Mr. Gegory Allen who, having served as a member of An Garda Siochána for more than 30 years, was in a position to give a cogent appraisal of O'Duffy.
Following his dismissal by DeValera, O'Duffy joined the Army Comrades Association (ACA), a welfare group for former soldiers which was also used to protect Cumann na nGaedheal meetings from attacks by terrorist supporters who had the tacit support of DeValera's newly elected Fianna Fáil government. The ACA was joined by groups of farmers who were in penury from the affects of DeValera's Economic War with Great Britain and whose cattle were being seized for the non-payment of rates. This informal grouping later became known as the "Blue Shirts" on account of their attire.
In 1936, O'Duffy led the Irish Brigade to Spain to support General Franco in his fight against a communist takeover of his country. There was huge support for this action in Ireland at the time. In the period preceding the outbreak of World War II, O'Duffy never uttered a single word of support for Adolf Hitler. The support for Hitler from Irish sources came primarily from communist/terrorist groups and from two individuals most notable for being ardent communists and admirers of the brutal tyrant Josef Stalin, namely Sean O'Casey and George Bernard Shaw. That says a lot about the perverted mindset of communists during that era and ever since.
Having given 22 years of tireless service to the GAA in Ulster, including his role as Central Council representative, O'Duffy was elected President of the NACA, the body that controlled Irish athletics. He held this post until his death on 30th November 1944. On 2nd December 1944, O'Duffy was given a full military funeral and was laid to rest in Glasnevin Cemetry, Dublin along side his friend and ally Michael Collins.
Gregory Allen writes:
...In 25 years of research for my recently published history of the Garda Siochana, including conversations with older colleagues who had known O'Duffy, I did not pick up even a breath of scandal touching his life. Instead I discovered the real personality of the dedicated man behind the prejudice that has tended to distort the history of that period. The mutiny at the Garda Depot in Kildare in the Summer of 1922 left the nascent police force in disarray. The Civic Guard needed "firm handling by some outstanding personality", the new Minister for Home Affairs, Kevin O'Higgins, wrote to the Army Commander-in-Chief, General Richard Mulcahy. The new commissioner "must be a disciplinarian and himself a model to the men of efficiency and self-restraint". He pleaded with Mulcahy to release O'Duffy, knowing that he was asking the Army "for its right arm". With an assurance from the Provisional Government that he would be given a free hand, the charismatic soldier began his life's work and in an astonishingly short time put heart back into a demoralised force...Gregory Allen also quotes from a political associate of O'Duffy, Professor Michael Tierney, who wrote of:
...an amiable and attractive man without any real tendency to dictatorship, whose career had ended so tragically. It was a tragedy in which those of us who had induced him to get involved in politics were really more to blame than he was...And Gregory Allen left us with the following conclusion:
In the evening of his life, he admitted that he had made two great mistakes: "I did not marry, and I entered politics"