Cousins at the Wreath laying in Liscarroll George Miller, Paul O’Brien, Edmond O’Brien, Donald O’Brien, Emmet O’Brien, Noreen Mulcahy, Donal O’Brien, Brian Miller, Patrick O’Brien, Sean O’Brien

A Liscarroll man who was executed during the War of Independence was honoured in his native Liscarroll last Sunday.
Members of the O’Brien family gathered while observing public guidelines at the monument in Liscarroll for a scaled down commemoration and wreath laying ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the execution by Crown Forces of Dan O’Brien, a member of the Charleville Cork 4 Brigade on 16th May 1921
Daniel O’Brien was born in Knockardbane, Liscarroll, one of a family of eight, five boys, Ned, Willie, Dan, Paddy and Jim and three girls Katie, Mary and Johanna to Edmond and Mary O’Brien (nee Duane from Ballinagrath, Ballyhea). Edmond O’Donnell passed away early in the 20th century.
Dan O’Brien and his bothers played a huge part locally in the fight for Irish Freedom. Early in August 1920, three brothers, Ned, Willie and Paddy were arrested by crown forces. Ned and Willie were deported to England. Willie was imprisoned in Durham, Ned in Winchester. Paddy went on hunger strike in Cork Jail and was subsequently transferred to the Mercy Hospital. From here he escaped and went on the run.
Dan was arrested later in the same month and was transferred to England but was released after a short while. The British were not able to prove that he had any connection with the IRA, but in actual fact he had taken part in the attack on Kilmallock RIC Barracks at the end of May 1920. Dan, his bother Paddy and P.J. O’Reilly had cycled from Liscarroll to take part in the Kilmallock attack.
Dan had been also involved in an attack on a police patrol in Charleville and another in Churchtown. Following his release he took part in another attack in the Charleville area. The most important engagement he figured in was the historic fight of Clonbanin in March 1921.
About a month later the O’Brien home in Knockardbane was completely destroyed by British forces as a reprisal.
While the column was on the run, they frequently found shelter at the home of the O’Donnell brothers in Aughrim about two miles north of Liscarroll. On the night of May 10th Dan O’Brien and his brother Paddy and John O’Regan slept there. After breakfast, the following morning the house was surrounded by soldiers and they decided to try to shoot their way out of the trap. Paddy succeeded but John O’Regan was wounded, and Dan was captured while trying to help him.
Dan O’Brien was removed to Buttevant Military Barracks and then to Victoria Barracks in Cork. There he was tried by a Drumhead Court and charged on 11th May of (1) improperly in possession of arms, namely, one revolver, (2) near Liscarroll on same date being improperly in possession of ammunition, namely, 12 rounds of revolver ammunition, one of which had the top of the bullet cut off and slit.
The evidence for the prosecution was that the accused was caught in a round up, and when searched the arms were found on him.
When asked to plead, Dan O’Brien said: “I was caught as a soldier, and you can try me.” The Court entered a plea of not guilty, and evidence was given. He was found guilty and sentenced to be executed by being shot.
The execution was carried out on the morning of Monday 16th May 1921. On that morning Dan’s mother and sister took the train from Charleville to Cork and arrived at Cork Detention Barracks late morning to be informed that the execution had been carried out some hours earlier. On seeking his belongings from the prison authorities, they were given just his rosary beads and a poignant letter Dan had written to his mother on the eve of facing his death and which is printed with this article. The rosary beads was used for the recitation of a decade of the rosary at the ceremony in Liscarroll on Sunday last.
Just as he had fought bravely for Irish freedom, he bravely faced his execution. On the eve of the execution Dan O’Brien was attended to by the chaplain, Rev. W. O’Brien, C.C, who spent two hours with him, giving him spiritual consolation. As he walked to the place of execution Father O’Brien said the Rosary before Dan walked to the end of the journey unaccompanied, continuing to say the Hail Mary, and met his death by firing squad bravely.
Dan O’Brien along with 12 other brave comrades who laid down their lives for the freedom from British rule that we all enjoy today, Cornelius Murphy, Seán Allen, John Lyons, Timothy McCarthy, Thomas O’Brien Daniel O’Callaghan, Patrick O’Mahony, Maurice Moore, Thomas Mulcahy, Patrick O’Sullivan, Patrick Ronayne and Patrick Casey were all interred in the then grounds of Cork Jail but now part of the U.C.C. campus.
When a proposal for the erection of a memorial and plaque over the graves of the Irish soldiers whose bodies lie in what was formerly a part of the yard of Cork Jail was first considered in 1944, it appeared that it would have been necessary to erect the memorial in the prison yard, where it would not have been at all times accessible to the public. There appeared to be no alternative to this course except the removal of the bodies elsewhere, and this was an action for which the Committee hesitated to seek the sanction of the men’s relatives. Fortunately, however, a very satisfactory solution was found. The Government agreed in 1946 to transfer the yard in which the graves were, and the adjoining old wing of the Jail, to University College. Hence, the graves and the memorial are now in a position where they may be an inspiration to the future generations of young men and women whose student days will be passed in the college.
Sunday’s ceremony at the monument is Liscarroll commenced with the hoisting of the tricolour by Dan O’Brien’s grandnephew Donal O’Brien. Using the rosary beads that his mother recovered from the prison authorities on the day of his execution 100 years ago, another grandnephew Donald O’Brien led the recitation of a decade of the rosary.
Paddy O’Brien, a nephew addressed the gathering before laying a wreath with Edmond O’Brien. Proceedings concluded with Emmett O’Brien reading the letter that Dan O’Brien left for his mother on the eve of his execution.
Dan O’Brien bravely fought for freedom for his country and made the ultimate sacrifice. Men like O’Brien and his comrades deserve to be remembered and commemorated for what they were, true Irish patriots to whom we all owe a huge debt.

This is a poem written in memory of Dan O’Brien by his good friend, Maisie Mortell from Charleville.

In memory of Daniel O’Brien of Liscarroll who died for Ireland on May 16th 1921
The sun is rising slowly o’er the city, leaving in its trail a blushing sky,
Its golden shafts stream through a prison window, within a noble soldier soon much die;

For what? For love of Ireland, love of country, for Eire’s Isle, a land of song and praise,
A land of love, a land renowned in story, which kept the Faith undimmed by darksome days.

Silence reigns the city’s lost in slumber, the busy hum of life is hushed in sleep,
But Shandons Bells are o’er the Lee aswelling, our Donal soon his just reward will reap;

He’s sitting on a stool beside the window, his bow’d-down head between his steady hands,
The morning breeze around his dark hair lingers, his calm clear brown it fondly cools and fans.

He is lost in thought, in sad and happy mem’ries, the patriot’s love within is soul is fanned,
He thinks of her his noble hearted mother, he knows she does not grudge him to his land,

But how the cruel sword of pain and sorrow, will pierce the heart for him her Donal boy.
Oh! Would you clasp her in his arms, and bid her a loving tender sad Good-Bye

Oh! Would he could cheer her in her sorrow, and tell her that the Day of Joy will come,
When at the Feet of Him, the king of Heaven, they’ll meet, what joy, the mother and her son;

But this he is denied these few short moments, in which to see his mother’s face once more,
He ne’re will see his loved ones till the Dawning, when he will greet them on Life’s Happy Shore.

He does not fear the fate that lies before him, his last red drop of blood is for his land,
But oh! That he had died beside his comrades, for Irelands Freedom fighting hand in hand.

Oh! Had he died in action with his rifle, defending noble comrades at this side,
Oh! Had he fallen ‘neath his country’s banner, his soldier’s spirit would have throbb’d with pride.

He will not die upon the fields of battle, no more he’ll strike a blow for liberty,
His stout heart throbs with pain, on earth he ponders, “The dawn of Freedom never will I see.”

He bows his head and whispers “Flat” bravely; He gladly gives his life for Rhoisin Dhu.
Oh! Would that he could see her free and happy, Oh! What for her would he not dare to do?

And then he dreams of joy and glory he’s once more free upon the hill and plain,
The battle rages thickly around him, and some dear comrades lie among the slain;

With one bold dash they win the day for Eire, they’ve laid the foreigner low, they’ve won the fight,
They carry all the laurels on their shoulders, and at their feet lies tyranny and might.

They carry all before them in their triumph, the Flag of Ireland floats upon the breeze,
They’ve won their legal rights and independence, they’ve brought the proud oppressor to his knees.

But all is but a dream, and sad the walking, he is still the little prison cell,
And soon floats in through the little prison window, the dreary toll of Donal’s slow death knell.

The lordly sun is pouring down its sunbeams, the wee birds warble sweetly in the sky,
Just one short hour, and then the noble soldier, will leave his cell, and proudly go to die;

Again we glance within the prison window, a sagart kneels beside the boy in prayer,
But soon they hear the tread of heavy footsteps, outside upon the prison’s winding stair.

They hear the tramp, the tramp, the steady tramping, as down the corridor the soldiers come,
The cell door is now open’d by the warder, Ah! Donal boy, thy earthly race is run;

And out into the open air he marches, with head erect, and stately arching brow,
He prays aloud, his Irish Faith apparent to God’s sweet will his heart doth meekly bow.

His face is calm, his eyes are clear and steadfast, the lad must show how Irish men can die,
The holocaust is nearing its completion, when to its God that noble soul will fly;

A smile is lighting up his manly features, his patriot soul into the future probes,
And there upon the throne in all her glory, he sees Dark Rosaleen in freedom’s robes.

He sees his country prosperous and happy, and Satan’s workers on their knees,
Our Faith – our priceless Heirloom glowing brightly and Patrick’s banner floating in the breeze;

The minutes fly, the hour is fast approaching, and through the silence rings the mournful bell.
“Not yet”, the patriot speaks, “Oh!” tell my mother, as one of Irelands noble sons I fell.
Maisie Mortell