Thursday, October 16, 2014

Vol. Paddy McLogan

    This past July marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Paddy McLogan, 1916 veteran and one of the "Three Macs" who led the Republican movement in the 50's.

   I cut the first half of this account little short so as not to take away from a much better detailed biographical booklet that McLogan's nephew, Len, is putting together. Hopefully this will stir up some interest.
    If anyone knew him or has any information, stories, memorabilia, photos, etc etc- get in touch with Len at
    He wrote a short write up on Paddy which was published in Saoirse in July 2014. Its well worth reading if you're interested and can get a hold of it.

Paddy McLogan

Padraig McLogan was born in Armagh in 1899 and emigrated to England at an early age. While there he joined the IRB (in 1913) under the influence of his uncle, who swore him in.
    During 1916 he fought in the GPO under James Connolly, and after the surrender was interned in Frongoch like the rest. He served as Contess Markceives' chauffeur during the internees' return to Dublin.
    In 1917 he went to Belfast to work with the IRB and volunteers there. "He was appointed captain of a new company of volunteers, D company 1st Battalion and he worked hard to bring it up to strength. They trained on Saturday nights, and returned to Belfast in time for 7am Mass." He helped acquire and redistribute arms, and form new companies. For one reason or another he headed south later that year and ended up fighting in Bray under Desmond Fitzgerald whilst working as a milkman to support himself. He was captured and imprisoned in Mountjoy during which time he went on hungerstrike with Thomas Ashe. Ashe died from force-feeding and while McLogan survived it, he was plagued by ill health for the rest of his life. He was released on medical grounds.
    During the 1918 elections he protected speakers and supporters in South Armagh from attacks by soldiers and rose to be O/c of the brigade there. The subsequent years during the Tan War were full ones for Paddy, filled with clever arms raids and brushes with death, the police, and prison. He would be in leadership positions most of the time, and throughout his life. That he rose to do so quickly, in diverse places, and from early on is testament to his qualities as a leader of men. He was asked to help lead the North Antrim/ East Derry Brigade upon its formation, which he did until he was arrested once more in 21. Though as he was arrested under an assumed name the police continued to hunt for him on the outside.
     Paddy was appointed one of the IRA's "Evacution Officers" but resigned after it was clear the 6 Counties- including his native Armagh- were to remain under British rule. He was imprisoned by the Free State at the outset of the Civil War. While inside he became O/c of his wing and under his watch a daring escape plan was hatched in which the guards were overpowered, their keys taken, and dozens of cells were opened. The escape was ultimately unsuccessful.
      He was released in 1923. He married and in '26 he moved to Portlaoise and bought a pub on a corner of 34 Main Street which he was to run for over 30 years. "Time keeping was meticulous," writes Tim Pat Coogan, "no drunkenness or swearing was allowed." He was deeply religious and kept a personal altar in his home- behind which he stored republican documents.
    He remained on the Republican scene, both under and above ground. From 1933-38 he was a nationalist MP for South Armagh, and in 1936 chairman of Cumann Na Phblachta Eireann, whilst simultaneously still at work within the IRA. In 1924, the dark years of postwar rebuilding, he was chosen as one of the IRA's principle organizers and from then on remained a quiet but prominent and consistent figure on the army council. He was an opponent of Sean Russell and the S Plan, and stepped back, like many others did, as a result. That did not stop the Free State from interning him on account of selling Easter Lillies, and he remained in the Curragh for most of the 40's.
     Whilst inside the Curragh he met Tony Magan and Thomas og MacCurtain, and a friendship was formed that would both preserve the movement and at the same time change it. They stood out from the others for their discipline and serious commitment. For this reason, after a string of meetings and conventions in the latter half of the decade, Tony Magan was elected as Chief of Staff as it was felt he could restore the crumbling movement. McLogan and MacCurtain would help him do so.
     McLogan's first task to this end was to bring Sinn Fein under the control of the IRA, making it their much-needed political arm (links had been severed in the 20's). McLogan served as president with other volunteers in positions under him, and headed a committee that coordinated the workings of the two organizations. He was president from 50-52, and from 54-60.
    He also brought "The United Irishman" under the IRA's control. It had been set up as an independent newspaper run by republicans, mostly ex-prisoners from the 40's. It quickly gained in readership and in '48 McLogan went on their editorial board. A split ensued when he advocated blowing up customs posts and the others did not. They subsequently resigned and as a result the "United Irishman" became the IRA's press arm ("The official organ of irish Republicanism" its subhead read) up to and beyond the split in 69/70. McLogan contributed many articles and editorials to the paper. These two coups made the IRA politically stronger and in many ways defined their existence for decades to come, up to the present day.
    McLogan refused to be on the army council of the 50's and, for the most part, focused his attention on politics. He was nonetheless an important military advisor during the Border Campaign and his experience in the North during the Tan War was valuable. "He knew his people and his situation," recalls Ruairi O'Bradaigh. At one meeting he had suggested discontinuing the practice of drilling in favor of "battle schools" and in 57 McLogan felt the traditional "flying columns" were too cumbersome and should be broken down into smaller units of 5 men or so. Both of these were eventually adopted. He was also an early proponent of the idea that no action should be taken in the Free State. "He was a very resourceful person who believed he always had options. He faced difficult situations, examined his options, and then acted." Joe Cahill recalled that he believed in staging "spectaculars"- high profile operations- as a way of drumming up support and the reaction to events like the Armagh barracks raid would seem to prove his view correct.
    In 1957 he was arrested at a Sinn Fein Ard Feis. With a single exception, the entire Sinn Fein leadership was now in the Curragh, and most of the Army Council as well. McLogan was re-elected president by an Ard Feis held inside the camp. Dispatches typed on toilet paper became his primary means of communication with the outside world.
     He was released in early 1958 on account of his health (he had almost died while in the Curragh a decade earlier). In April that year he went to America to raise support, and laid groundwork for an arms smuggling network with George Harrison and a "30's man," Liam Cotter.
   In 1960 he was replaced as president of Sinn fein by Thomas Mac Goilla. The same year he was allegedly behind a campaign against Sean Cronin for, it was claimed, being a communist. Cronin was found not guilty by the Army investigation but he resigned to keep peace within the movement. An unfortunate incident but hardly unusual given the very conservative political atmosphere McLogan's generation hailed from.
   He was against the stand down in 62 and resigned from the Sinn Fein leadership as a result. He did not let this dampen his involvement though: he still remained a member of Sinn Fein and in his own capacity continued to arrange arms shipments from America in expectation of the next campaign. Though he sold his pub and retired to Blanchardstown, he did not show any signs of retiring from the struggle.
    In 1964 he was found dead in his back garden (others say his hallway) with a revolver beside him. The coroner listed his death as accidental, and indeed the revolver in question- a Walther 9mm- is prone to misfiring. However Paddy had dealt with weapons all his life and was a bit of an expert. Suicide was out of the question as he was both a devout Catholic and in high spirits. On the other hand some Republicans claimed, and still claim, he was murdered by the new leadership. An anonymous republican quoted in Sean Swan's book says people said the deed was done by him and Cathal Goulding "but it wasn't." Others suspected MI5 was involved. 50 years later his death continues to intrigue.
   He was buried in Mulhuddart, Dublin and within a year his friends had a fitting memorial erected over his grave.
   It is said McLogan did not want his arms to "fall into the hands of his ideological enemies," and what plans he did have for them he took to his grave. However under the direction of Harrison and Cotter (himself murdered in 76) the American network operated well into the 70's and 80's and was very successful in its purpose.
    Paddy Mclogan led what his former commander James Connolly would have called "a great, full life." (A friend from the 40's, Jack McCabe, was working on a biography of Paddy but it was cut short by McCabe's death.) Comrades recall him as a stern man, the result of decades of war, hardship, and loss. J Bowyer Bell describes him as "the traditional Irish conspirator...quietly weaving involved nets, placid in temperament, ice cold in contention, but easy to trust." A fellow internee recalled, "If Paddy ever went to heaven he would cause trouble there; it was in his nature to cause trouble." Paddy would have taken that as a compliment if done in the service of the Republic, to which his life was devoted.

"They drilled" and info on his Tan War activities from Saoirse, July 2014.
"The IRA" by Tim Pat Coogan
"The Secret Army" by J Bowyer Bell
"Resourceful person..." Quote from "Ruairi O'Bradaigh: Life and Politics of an Irish Revolutionary" by Robert White.
"He knew..." From
"Spectaculars" Joe Cahill, A Life in the IRA
"But it wasn't, etc" Sean Swan, "Official Irish Republicanism"
"He didn't want his weapons...." And info on arms ring from "The American Connection by Jack Holland.
"If paddy ever went..." Quote from "The IRA in the Twilight Years." Also has a several-page tribute to him from Ruairi O'Bradaigh.

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