• Part 3 of a 3-part series on the evidence given by Oscar Traynor, Commander, Dublin Brigade, IRA, to the Bureau of Military History. This week: The last weeks of the struggle for independence. By Eamonn Duggan
The final section of Oscar Traynor’s wonderfully scripted witness statement to the Bureau of Military History deals with the last few months of the War of Independence in Dublin. For the past two weeks we have looked at how he and his comrades in the Dublin Brigade planned and carried out the attack on the Custom House, the last great IRA operation of the War of Independence.
In the final pages of his statement Traynor provided us with some other interesting points of information confirming how he and his men in the Dublin Brigade continued to be on the lookout for opportunities to engage with the enemy while, at the same time, endeavouring to improve their knowledge in the art of warfare.
Traynor recalled that in the aftermath of the Custom House attack and the capture by the British of around eighty men, the Dublin Brigade had to be reorganised and this necessitated the appointment of many new officers. As the reorganisation of the Brigade was taking place, moves were afoot at the political level to bring about a ceasefire in the independence conflict.
While the Brigade continued to work on the premise that it may be called into action in the future, the reality was, that throughout the late spring and early summer of 1921, there was every indication the independence struggle was approaching its final days.
Indeed, the attacks on the enemy during that period were of a minor nature, most of which, were carried out by the Active Service Unit and they ceased when the Truce was announced on 11 July, 1921.
Traynor also made the point that the Dublin Brigade Headquarters survived intact throughout the independence conflict. The original headquarters was housed in 35, Lower Gardiner Street, a property owned by the Dublin Typographical Society, but it was under constant surveillance by the police and the British military.
Some of those keeping watch on the building were apprehended by Brigade personnel and were questioned by members of Collins’s Intelligence Unit before being released. It was then deemed necessary to transfer the headquarters to 6, Gardiner’s Row – which was the property of the Irish Engineering Union.
In those final months of the conflict Emmet Dalton was appointed IRA Director of Training after Traynor expressed his concern that lectures to officers around the country were not being delivered with the usual regularity. The Director of Training, J.J. O’Connell, was appointed Deputy Chief-of-Staff and the demands on his time meant he was often unavailable to deliver training lectures to officers.