Reading messages before Hitler saw them

Thu, Jun 01, 2023

Week III
Not only was Emily Anderson regarded as the best codebreaker working at the Government Code and Cypher School (GCCS) at Bletchley Park, she had an instinct for recruitment. She brought several brilliant codebreakers on board. One discovery was the remarkable Patricia Bartley who at 24 years of age, made the surprising breakthrough into the German diplomatic code, known as ‘Floradora’, a sister code to the better-known German military code, Enigma.

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Miss Anderson of the Foreign Office

Thu, May 25, 2023

Week II
Shortly after the 1916 Rising, and two years into the First World War, Galway, along with all other towns in Ireland, was on edge. The authorities regarded with suspicion people who had expressed nationalist sympathies, or even more scary, if they were German. The week long Easter Rising had taken place on April 24 until 29th, when three months later the notorious Battle of the Somme began on July 1 which would grind on until November.* People tended to see enemies everywhere.

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The Amazing Miss Anderson

Thu, May 18, 2023

Looking at the photograph of Emily Anderson on this page, the only formal portrait of her other than some distant group shots, it is difficult to imagine that this interesting Galway woman was probably the best codebreaker in the British Secret Service during the First and Second World Wars.

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Bill King’s passion for the sea was inspired by his Granny Mackenzie

Thu, May 11, 2023

Week IV
After the war Commander Bill King and his wife Anita tried to settle into some kind of normal life, in a rather draughty and damp 15th century Norman castle at Oranmore. After their extraordinary experiences during the war, life in Galway was, to say the least, a disappointing end to the previous six years of dangerous living and fearful events. Life was lived on the edge.

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Two war heroes returned to Galway ‘empty and depressed’

Thu, May 04, 2023

Week III
Exhausted and unwell, and severely shaken following the unexplained disappearance of Snapper (taken out by his second in command, Lt Jimmy Prowse, and lost on his first patrol ), Commander King was sent to Beirut on a restful mission as an executive officer of the submarine base there. His commanding officer was an old friend Capt Ruck-Keene, who knew instinctively just what was needed to cure an exhausted submarine commander: Good food and mountain air.

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Eleven watchful ’S’ boats… (Bill King’s war in submarines)

Thu, Apr 27, 2023

Week II
At the start of the Second World War, Bill King was a Lieutenant in charge of his first submarine HMS Snapper. The first winter of the war was unusually cold. Commander Bill King’s submarine Snapper served in the North Sea from April 1939 for 12 months. During that time it had numerous contacts with enemy ships, mainly in the Skagerrat Strait, between the southeast coast of Norway and the southwest coast of Sweden.

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Fathers seek reconciliation in Oranmore Castle

Thu, Apr 20, 2023

One of the most extraordinary meetings in the aftermath of any war took place in May 2004 in Oranmore Castle, the home of the late Commander Bill King RN, and his family.

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‘Ghosts should be laid peacefully to rest, and wrongs righted’

Thu, Apr 13, 2023

Week VI
The alleged mastermind for the Maamtrasna murders was pointed out to Harrington. When he met this mysterious man he was coming out of one of his fields, bent under a big 'brath' of grass.

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Clutching a candle, Tom Casey withdraws his evidence

Thu, Apr 06, 2023

The horrific Maamtrasna murders, the arrest of 10 men, the rush to ‘justice’, the evidence of the Cappanacrehas (known to be bitter enemies of the murdered Joyces), the two informers Anthony Philbin and Thomas Casey (whose false evidence led to penal servitude for life for five innocent men, and the execution of one innocent man), was followed in minute detail not only throughout Ireland, but in Britain and among the Irish communities in America. Yet nowhere did it impact more than on the mountainside community of Maamtrasna .

About 150 families eked out a living there, many of them inter-related. There was talk of an insufficient investigation, the vengeance of neighbours, the false evidence given in court, innocent men imprisoned, and the whole story of Myles Joyces's last hours filled many of the people with horror and indignation. These feelings were exacerbated by letters from the prisoners protesting their innocence, and their pleadings to have the case re-opened.

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An extraordinary confession on the eve of execution

Thu, Mar 30, 2023

The brutal killing of the Joyce family, the subsequent round up of the 10 accused, their trial and the sentencing of three men to hang, while the rest pleaded guilty and faced a life of penal servitude, gripped the public yet again when it had barely recovered from the Phoenix Park murders. In particular the evidence by the Cappanacrehas, and by Philbin and Casey understandably caused deadly resentment in Connemara, which still finds an echo today.

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The police were told ‘an astonishing tale’

Thu, Mar 23, 2023

Then on August 17 the so called Maamtrasna Murders were committed. It was a crime that the local police dreaded not only because of its horrific nature, but because of the unlikelihood that the perpetrators would ever be found. Usually in a closeknit community, such as at Maamtrasna , the murderers would never be revealed, at least never to the police.

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‘A man ran shouting: Lord Cavendish and Burke are killed..’

Thu, Mar 16, 2023

The Maamtrasna Murders happened at a time of deep unrest in Ireland. Three years previously, the most effective protest against the insidious landlord domination of the vast majority of the Irish people found expression in the Land League. It was established on October 21 1879, in the Imperial Hotel, Castlebar, by a former Fenian prisoner Michael Davitt. In a sweeping revolutionary statement, the League proclaimed the right of every tenant farmer to own the land he worked on. Because of the abuses heaped on tenants by some landlords, it had an immediate impact.

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An outburst of unredeemed and inexplicable savagery

Thu, Mar 09, 2023

In early October 1884 a journalist from The New York Times, whom we only know by his initials HF, left Galway for Cong by steamer, in the company of Mr TP O'Connor, MP for Galway, and Mr Healy, MP for Monaghan.

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The Anglo-Irish Treaty - A flawed document, or the means to achieve freedom?

Thu, Mar 02, 2023

As a direct consequence of the death of three National Army soldiers during a botched raid on the barracks in Headford on Sunday April 8 1923, six anti-Treaty young men, already in Galway jail, were selected for immediate execution. They had been arrested during a raid on their training camp in the Currandulla area six weeks earlier.

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Attack on Headford barracks -‘A totally foolhardy exercise’

Thu, Feb 23, 2023

By the end of January 1923 the Irish Free State had executed 34 anti-Treaty republican prisoners. To put this figure into context, the British authorities executed 24 Irish prisoners between November 1920 and June 1921 during the War of Independence. The fledgling Irish Free State was determined to put-down the rebellion by a small but deadly anti-Treaty force, led with fierce determination, by Liam Lynch.

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‘The girl we left behind us’

Thu, Feb 16, 2023

In the immediate aftermath of the recapture of Clifden by the anti-Treaty forces on Sunday 29 October 1922, the town was in a mess. Every house on Main Street had its windows and doors shattered. The streets were littered with glass as a result of explosions. In the houses opposite the barracks ‘not a picture remained on the walls, nor a piece of furniture unscathed’. Porter and spirits ‘flowed out the door’ of Lavelle’s pub. The ‘armoured car’, which had caused so much surprise, and gave cover to allow bombs to be placed, was removed and abandoned at Killery. It was noted that for the first time in living memory there were no church services in Clifden that Sunday.

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Anti-Treaty forces ‘secret weapon’ helps recapture Clifden

Thu, Feb 09, 2023

On Saturday night, October 28 1922, a large force of anti-Treatyites made their way carefully and with as little noise as possible, into the silent streets of Clifden. They had already ‘taken’ Clifden the previous July, but were unceremoniously driven out by the National Army who approached Clifden by sea achieving total surprise.

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The Protestant Boys orphanage at Clifden

Thu, Feb 02, 2023

Even though the National Army ousted the anti-Treaty forces from Clifden in August 1922, they had not gone away. They still remained a threatening force, well armed and determined. Ever since the Black and Tan war the so called Connemara Flying Column, still under the leadership of Peter McDonnell, Gerald Bartley and others, were firmly on the anti-Treaty side. They were familiar with the path-ways and mountain hide-outs, which made them virtually invisible in times of pursuit.

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Monsignor McAlpine would not take orders from boys he had baptised

Thu, Jan 26, 2023

After sporadic fighting in Galway during the summer of 1922, and the occupation of some buildings in the town, including the old RIC barracks in Eglington Street, and the former Connaught Ranger barracks at Renmore, the anti-Treaty forces withdrew into Connermara, and into the east Galway countryside.

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Firing squads and street battles in Galway

Thu, Jan 19, 2023

‘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, don’t 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.

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