The History and Tradition of Na Fianna Éireann
Na FIANNA ÉIREANN was founded in 1909 with the object of educating the youth of Ireland in national ideas and re-establishing the independence of the nation.
After more than 700 years of enforced English rule, Ireland was slowly becoming a contented British province. Unemployment was widespread, poverty rampant and apathy the general condition of’ the people. Hopelessness seemed the birthright of every boy and girl born in those lean years. The older generations were embittered and dispirited. Pride of nationhood was at its lowest ebb.
The Gaelic League and Gaelic Athletic Association, founded in the last quarter of the 19th century, had made great strides. They catered for the young adult population. But the boys of Ireland. whose keen young minds should have been educated in their country’s heritage, needs and future, were neglected.
The neglected youth of Ireland then was falling prey to the bait of the tyrant. Some escaped their poverty by joining the British Armv and helped their oppressor establish his rule in Africa and Asia. Others scraped a bare existence at home but did not allow their minds to dwell on the plight of their country or on their future.
Meanwhile, a new anti-national menace in the shape of’ the Baden-Powell Boy Scouts, threatened to spread throughout the country. The scouts made a declaration of allegiance to the King of England, thus starting their indoctrination in British ways and British loyalities.
One day in 1909 Countess Constance Markievicz read a newspaper report of one such loyalist parade. She thought it tragic that 800 Irish ]ads should parade in front of the King’s representative in Ireland and salute the Union Jack, the flag that flew in triumph over their oppressed motherland. She would do something about it.
She decided to found an organisation for Irish boys. The boys would be held together by the bond of their great love for Ireland. The organisation would include all workers for Ireland’s cause, whether constitutionalist or revolutionary. What mattered was honesty and willingness to undertake a life of self-sacrifice and self- denial for their country’s sake. Na Fianna Éireann was to be primarily an educational organisation.
At the time the Countess was a member of the Sinn Féin Executive and a speaker at their weekly public meetings. At these meetings she aired her views and called for support for the organisation she hoped to found, but met with little encouragement. However, with the help of Helena Molony, Pádraig Mac Artain, and Seán Mac Garda, an informal committee was formed, which discussed the foundation of the Organisation.
It was decided to contact a schoolmaster who would recommend boys who might be interested in such an organisation. The Countess told a Unionist friend she hoped to form a boy scout organisation for nationalists and desired to contact a schoolmaster who would be sympathetic. He sent her to Westland Row C.B.S. The school- master introduced the Countess to eight boys and she launched the Organisation by inviting them to her own house, where she held the first parade.
None of the members knew drill, semaphore, or any other scouting skill. Little progress was made and the Countess became rather depressed at times. Then they decided to go on a camp, and the joys and tribulations of a Fianna camp really convinced her of the possibilities of the Organisation. It also convinced her that the organisation would have to be run more on the basis of a “Boys’ Republic” and an army, as opposed to the English Scouts’ system or organisation by sections and patrols. She secured a hall at 34 Lower Camden Street and invited Bulmer Hobson to assist, as he had previous experience of handling boys, having run a boys’ organisation in Belfast. At his request she called the organisation Na Fianna Eireann.
The first meeting was held in the new hall. It was largely attended and An Chead Sluagh was formed. Con Colbert joined Na Fianna that historic evening and soon rose to the rank of Captain. This meeting, which was presided over by Bulmer Hobson, marked the actual founding of the organisation and its launcing on a national scale. The date was August 16, 1909. Hobson was elected President, Madame Vice-President and Pádraic O’Riain Secretary.
The Organisation progressed steadilv and the next sluaite to be formed in Dublin were the Drumcondra and North Dock units. The first sluagh formed in Belfast was organised by Miss Annie O’Boyle, a young woman who worked devotedly and untiringly for the cause. There were sluaite in Dublin, Limerick, Derry, Cork, Belfast and Clonmel by December 1910, and the first Ard Fheis had already been held.
The Belfast Sluagh, wearing Fianna uniform, climbed Cave Hill, and standing at McArt’s Fort just as Wolfe Tone had done, promised to work unceasingly for the independence of Ireland. The second Ard Fheis which was held in July 1911, revealed that the organisation had spread to Dundalk, Newry and Waterford. In that year Liam Mellowes joined. Seán Heuston was then O/C of Limerick Sluagh. All conventions were held in the Mansion House prior to 1916.
When the Executive examined the financial situation in 1912, it realised that progress was jeopardised by lack of funds. Money was needed to finance the spread of the organisation. Liam Mellowes volunteered to give up his job and become a full time Fianna organiser at a salary of ten shillings a week.
He began his work in April 1913 and never relaxed his ceaseless activity for the Republic until his death before a Free State firing squad on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. 1922.
When he commenced his great task as first Fianna organiser, he was met with indifference almost everywhere. but within a year the future of Na Fianna in Ireland was assured. The organisation spread throughout the country due mainly to his great organising ability. The Fianna established hurling and football teams, pipe bands and ambulance-corps, in every part of the country.
Seán Heuston returned to Dublin in 1913 and took charge of Sluagh Robert Emmet. He was a born leader and had a great capacity for work. He laboured long in Fianna HQ at 12 D’Olier Street where he could be found up to midnight working on details of organisation and training.
Na Fianna played an active part during the 1913 strike and a Fianna officer, Patsy O’Connor, was batoned on the head by R.I.C. while giving first aid to an injured person, following a police baton charge. This lad died sometime afterwards. When the Volunteers were formed in the same year, the value of the work undertaken by Na Fianna became obvious. The senior boys were ready and competent to train the Volunteers and accustom them to discipline and, in short, to transform raw recruits into disciplined soldiers. Four Fianna officers were elected to the first Executive Council of the Volunteers and Liam Mellowes became the first effective secretary. The Fianna drill halls and equipment were at the disposal of the Volunteers and they grew rapidly in strength, along with Na Fianna.
Na Fianna was well represented at Bodenstown the same year when Pádraig Mac Piarais led the historic pilgrimage to the grave of Wolfe Tone. This has remained an annual event for the organisation ever since.
The year 1914 saw further progress for Na Fianna when the first handbook was put in the hands of the Organisation. T’his year also marked Na Fianna’s first event of national importance, the Howth gun running. They marched from Dublin with the Volunteers, bringing their trek-cart with them, and were the first to reach Erskine childers’ yacht The Asgard.
During the return journey to Dublin they were entrusted with some guns and the ammunition because of their high standard of discipline. After clashes with the military they succeeded in delivering it to its destination. A Fianna officer was in charge of the cycle detachment at the Kilcoole gun running, which took place soon afterwards.
From 1915 onwards they threw themselves wholeheartedly into anti-British activities, and that year the funeral of O’Donovan Rossa was the occasion of a great display of strength.
In 1915 the Fianna re-organised the Sluaite into Brigade and Battalion formations to bring the organisation into line with that of the Volunteers. The change-over was ratified at the Ard-Fheis held in July of that year. This was followed by a meeting of the newly elected Ard Choiste (Executive council) which proceeded to appoint a Headquarters Staff, thus departing from the former practice of electing the Departmental Directors at the Ard-Fheis. Capt J A Dalton of Limerick presided over the first meeting of the Ard Choiste, held at 12 D’Olier Street on Sunday, July 24, 1915. The following Headquarters Staff of the Fianna was appointed: Chief of the Fianna, Pádraic O’Riain; Chief of Staff, Bulmer Hobson; Adjutant General, A P Reynolds; Director of Training, Seán Mac Aodha; Director of Organisation and Recruiting, Eamon Martin; Director of Equipment, Leo Henderson; Director of Finance, Barney Mellowes. Garry Holohan was appointed assistant to Leo Henderson. They held office until Easter 1916.
It was decided to co-opt a member of the Belfast District Council on to the Ard Choiste. By this time Con Colbert had gone to the Volunteers full time.
Seven years of intensive effort and dedicated service to the nation culminated in the glorious Rising of Easter Week, 1916, when Fianna officers were given command of important sections of the operations. A party of Fianna and Volunteers successfully attacked and destroyed the arms and munitions in the Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park, thus signalling the start of the Rising. This party then proceeded to the Broadstone Railway Station, where the O/C of the Dublin Fianna was severely wounded in the attack. This party also participated in the capture of the Linen Hall Barracks and the fierce fighting in North King Street.
Seán Heuston was in charge at the Mendicity Institution on Usher’s Island, and with his small garrison, defended his position for three days. Liam Staines, a member of “F” Sluagh, was severely wounded during the fighting there. Con Colbert was second in command in Marrowbone Lane and assumed command at the surrender. Madame Markievicz with Michael Mallin, held the College of Surgeons with Citizen Army and some Fianna boys.
Members of Na Fianna were engaged in the fighting in other parts also, and. In addition, carried out the dangerous work of dispatch carrying and scouting. Six Fianna boys were killed, several were wounded and Seán Heuston and Con Colbert were executed on May 8, 1916.
Liam Mellows, the Fianna organiser, led the Rising in the West. He was in command of the Western Division of the Volunteers and planned to drive the British out of the West by capturing all posts and barracks there and then marching on Galway City. They captured the barracks at Clarenbridge and marched to Oranmore. While demolishing a bridge there they were forced to retreat in the face of enemy forces. Liam mobilised all his forces at a disused castle and prepared to carry on the fight. Word reached them that large enemy reinforcements had arrived in Galway Bay. This was a severe blow to their morale and many contemplated returning home. The arrival of a priest, who finally persuaded them to return home on the plea that everyone had surrendered except the Galway men, clinched the matter.
Liam Mellows was deserted by all, except two loyal comrades, and was forced to flee to the mountains – a hunted outlaw. After four months on the run he was instructed to go to America to campaign for funds for the Movement. He worked ceaselessly for the cause there until his return to Ireland in 1920.
AFTER THE RISING
Immediately after the Rising a meeting of all available officers was held at An Chead Sluagh hall when a Provisional Committee of Control was appointed, as follows: — Eamon Martin (Chairman), J Pounch, T Fitzgerald, and Joseph Reynolds.
With the release of the bulk of the internees in December 1916. The HQ Staff was re-constituted as follows: Ard Fheinne, Countess Markievicz (still in prison); Chief of Staff, Éamon Martin (in USA); Adjutant General, Barney Mellows (re-arrested February 1917); Quartermaster General, Garry Holohan; Assistant QMG, A White; Director of Training and Acting Chief of Staff, Seán McLoughlin.
With the release of the remaining prisoners a further re-organisation resulted in the following appointments which remained static until the Truce in 1921: Ard Fheinne, E de Valera, 1917-18; Ard Fheinne, Madame Markievicz, 1918-1921; Chief of Staff, Éamon Martin, until July 1921; Adjutant General, Barney Mellows; (P Stephenson was Acting Adjutant General while Barney Mellows was in prison); Quartermaster General, Garry Holohan; Assistant QMG, A White; Director of Training (also C/S), Eamon Martin; Assistant Director of Training, H O’Neill; Director of Organisation, Liam Langley.
Fianna took an active part in all militant activities during the year, which included marching at the funeral of Thomas Ashe, the anti-conscription campaign and several raids for arms.
The Annual Ard-Fheis in 1919 at the Mansion House pledged its allegiance to the Government of the Republic, as the Fianna of today continue to do.
In 1920 the Fianna Commando offered to attempt the rescue of Kenvin Barry. They were instructed to stand by but the order was later cancelled.
From 1919 to 1921, Na Fianna took an active part in the fight for freedom throughout the country. They carried despatches for the Volunteers, reconnoitred barracks etc, engaged in intelligence work of all kinds, rendered first aid to the wounded. Officers and senior scouts succeeded in securing arms and actively engaged the enemy on numerous occasions. The heroism of the boys of Ireland during this period would require many volumes to tell the full story and cannot be dealth with properly in this broad outline.
At the Ard-Fheis held after the Truce, the Director of Organisation gave the strength of the organisation as around 25,000. The Chief of Staff’s opinion was that this was an “on paper” figure and that half to two-thirds that figure would be a closer estimate. The “returns” were always on the “generous” side.
At the general parade of all national bodies which took place in Smithfield, Dublin, to celebrate the Truce, the Fianna who paraded from the Dublin Brigade, under Garry Holohan, numbered 2,100 all ranks. This is an accurate record.
The year 1921 came, a year that promised so much for the new resurgent Ireland. England had called for a truce and negotiations were in progress. Many noble Irish boys had died and suffered that Ireland might be free.
But Ireland’s sorrowful tale was to continue and many more were to die in the “second defence of the Republic”. The voice of Ireland’s youth again spoke fearlessly through the GHQ of Na Fianna, proclaiming their allegiance to the Republic and offering their lives in her defence.
In the terrible second war made on the Republic, the boys fought as bravely as the young warriors of the old Fianna of Fionn. Hundreds of lads were thrown into prison and stood true, neither giving away under torture nor shirking the hunger strike. Some died in battle, many were kidnapped and murdered by men fighting to hold Ireland for the British Empire. Two of the Fianna Headquarters Staff – Liam Mellows and Joe McKelvey – were treachersouly shot to death by Irishmen, at the bidding of the English Cabinet, after being held prisoner for five months.
The Republican Army laid down its arms in April 1923 after nearly two years of heroic resistence, but it made no surrender of principle. The Free State Government was established to rule or misrule the 26 Counties, and an Orange Government set up in the Six Counties to do likewise. Na Fianna Éireann was proclaimed an illegal organisation in the Six Counties, but continued to function actively as it does today.
FIANNA AND THE IRB
The IRB exerted great influence on the policy and internal workings of the organisation, from its formation up to the Truce, due to the fact that the majority of Fianna officers were members of the IRB from as early as 1912. Con Colbert and Pádraic Ó Riain were members of the IRB when Fianna was founded. The Supreme Council of the IRB never issued a positive directive to its Fianna members, but Madame was aware of the situation and never ceased to compalin about it. In 1911 Éamon Martin was sworn in, and in 1912 Michael Lonergan and Liam Mellows.
All members of the HQ Staff were members of the IRB during those years. In 1911 a separate Circle for the Fianna, the John Mitchel Circle, was formed, with Con Colbert as Centre and Pádraic Ó Riain as Secretary. When the country officers were in Dublin, they attended the meetings of this Circle. On the eve of all Ard Fheiseanna, up to about 1923, all Fianna officers who were members of the IRB held a caucus meeting which decided how they were to vote on matters of importance. It was usually arranged that Madame would be elected Ard Feinne at these meetings, thus voiding her from a position on GHQ or the Ard Choiste. The senior officers of the Fianna did not want to antagonise the Countess openly, so they ensured that she would have little say in the affairs of the organisation by electing her to this honorary position. Thus it can be seen that the Ard Fheis was merely window-dressing and that all important decisions were taken at the meeting beforehand.
When the IRB influence terminated, the Countess had a greater say in the affairs of the organisation but it has been acknowledged that despite the IRB situation, the organisation would never have succeeded without her enthusiasm, her tremendous energy and above all her abiding faith in the cause.
FIANNA IN TRALEE
The story of Tralee Fianna Éireann is no mere account of routine scout work. It is an integral part of the history of the resistance movement in the town during the Anglo-Irish way and the second defence of the Republic also. Boys of the Fianna, all in their teens, stood shoulder to shoulder with men of the Irish Republican Army in many big engagements. They fought bravely; some died leaving to the survivors a rich legacy of inspiring courage and self-sacrifice.
The re-organisation of the Fianna took place simultaneously with the rebirth fo the Volunteers in 1917. In Tralee a Sluagh was formed in each Volunteer area and the members worked in the closest co-operation with the IRA. The work of re-organisation was completed by the end of 1917 and among the Brigade Staff appointed by the Ard-Fheis, held at the Mansion House, Dublin in 1918, was one for Kerry. There were three Sluaite in the Tralee area – Boherbee which had a strength of 109, Strant Street which had a strength of 120 and Rock Street which had a strength of 120 also.
During 1917 the Fianna was mostly occupied by the work of re-organising. Training proceeded intensively, and the boys were engaged in intelligence work.
During these early days they were also engaged in scouting and outpose work, and participated in the capture of arms and ammunition from British military at Tralee Railway Station in October 1918.
When the terror of the Black and tans was loosed in all its fury, in 1920, the Tralee Fianna showed that the years of intensive training were not wasted. The Brigade officers participated in the ambushes at Castlemaine and Lispole. The Brigade O/C was a member of the party which attacked and destroyed Fenit Barracks in June 1920, after a long and bitter fight. The following list of activities in which members of the Tralee Fianna participated conveys the importance of the work undertaken by the organisation:
The attack on Sergeant Sullivan, KC at Oakpark in January 1920. This action was taken as a result of insulting references by Sullivan to Bishop O’Dwyer of Limerick. He was not molested seriously.
Attack on Camp Barracks in February 1920.
The burning of the Custom House documents in Tralee on April 3, 1920.
Removal and destruction of water wagon from Dingle train at Tralee.
Capture of 11 rifles from British Forces in July 1920.
Burning fo the furniture of Captain Wynee, RM in July 1920.
The capture of a police car at Edward St, Tralee, in July 1920.
Attack on British Forces in Tralee on November’s Eve, 1920.
Ambushes at Lispole, tubrid, Glenbeigh and Castlemain.
Special scouting duty in connection with the shooting of Major McKinnon, the notorious Auxiliary Commander, at the Tralee Golf Links on April 14, 1921.
Not all Tralee Fianna activities are listed here, but sufficient are mentioned to show that not alone was the organisation an invaluable adjunct to the IRA, but in addition, it was a first class fighting unit in its own right. During the period of the Truce a special section of the Tralee Fianna was attached to the Republican Police.
Their work involved protective duty, guarding banks, investigating robberies and attending Republican Courts as witnesses. The Fianna assisted in repelling the onslaught of the Black and Tans who broke the truce in Tralee in January 1922 and ran amuck in the town. Following this incident, units of the Fianna were constantly on day and night duty.
Several members of the Kerry Fianna were presented with watches by the President of the Irish Republic in 1923, for distinctive services given during the Anglo-Irish War. They included the Battalion O/C and Billy Myles (awarded posthumously) who was killed in action at Annagh, Tralee, during the Civil War. The President also presented a silver cup to the Battalion for outstanding service.
IANNA IN CORK
Some time in 1910 or thereabouts, Tomas MacCurtain invited Countess Markievicz to Cork to organise a Sluagh of the Fianna in the city. The meeting took place in the city hall. Tomas Mac Curtain, Seán Ó Cuill, Bob Langford, and Tadhg Barry, were among those who attended the initial meeting. After Madame had outlined the aims and objects of the organisation, it was decided to organise a Sluagh in the city and later to set up Sluaite in the county.
Progress was slow at the start, but in 1912 a large number of Baden Powell Scouts left the British organisation and joined the Fianna, and from then onwards the Fianna in Cork began to grow steadily. Estimated strength in the city from 1913 to 1916 – 30 to 40; 1914 – 40 to 50; 1915 – 60 to 80; 1916 – 80 to 100.
The Sluaite consisted of nine Fiannaidhe, eight boys and a Sluagh leader. The boys wore a plain green shirt and officers a double breasted tunic. After 1916, all wore the double breasted tunic. The I/C of the Fianna in Cork had the title of Scoutmaster up to the Munster Convention in 1915, which was held at Limerick. At the Convention it was decided to replace the title of Scoutmaster with the military rank of captain. Séamus Courtney of Cork was appointed O/C of Munster and he appointed Seán Healy O/C of Cork City and County.
The following were the officers commanding the county: — Walter Furlong, a few months at the start; Christy Monahan, 1912 to 1913; Liam O’Callaghan, 1913 to 1914; Seamus Courtney, 1914 to 1915; Seán Healy, 1915 to 1918.
From 1914 to 1916, Seán Healy and Séamus Courtney organised a great many areas in the county, including Blarney, Clogheen, Cobh, Riverstown, Douglas, Blackrock and Youghal. In other areas the Fianna were pioneers in building up the volunteers.
Tadhg O’Sullivan succeeded Seán Healy as O/C of Cork, when Seán joined the Volunteers. He was succeeded by Frank McMahon. Tadhg was killed by Crown forces in Douglas St, Cork in May 1921. Seamus Courtney was arrested in 1917 and lodged in Cork jail where he went on hunger strike. This undermined his health and on his release his health broke down completely and he died. He was buried at Passage with full military honours. In 1921, the Fianna were re-organised into Battalions and Brigades along the same lines as the Volunteers. The O/C of the Cork First Brigade was Frank McMahon, who became Chief of Staff of the Fianna in 1922.
The Fianna mobilised for the Easter Rising, but were demobilised due to Eoin McNeill’s countermanding order. The Fianna had its own active service unit in each Battalion area. The work of the Active Service Units consisted mostly of raids on Belfast Boycott goods, food supplies for the British Army and RUC, the burning of British newspapers, post office mails and small cars, and raids for bicycles.
In 1920, Patrick Hanley was murdered by RIC in a series of murders in the Grattan Street area of Cork on the night of November 27. They were a reprisal for the shooting of an RIC sergeant. Patrick was the sole support for his mother and sister and despite his appeal to his murderer, he was shot down callously on that fateful night.
His remains were laid out in his Fianna uniform, in the mortuary of the Mercy Hospital. The body was later removed to the church of SS Peter and Paul. Thousands came to pay their last respects to this noble boy who had given his life for Ireland. He was buried in St Finbarr’s Cemetery, the Tricolour-draped coffin being shouldered all the way to the cemetery by the dead boy’s comrades. A volley was fired over the grave and the Last Post was sounded by the Fianna buglers. A short oration was delivered by a Fianna officer, who exhorted the boys to be inspired by the work of Patrick Hanley and to carry carefully the burning torch of freedom.
After the truce, when the Volunteers took over the barracks from the British, many members of the Fianna garrisoned them. During the second defence of the Republic, many members of the Cork City Fianna were on active service in areas such as Limerick Waterford, Kilmallock, Dungarvan and Passage.
After the evacuation of Cork City by the Republicans, Fianna was completely disorganised for several months. Some groups remained active in the Second Battalion area, under Frank Nolan. At a later stage, a unit was formed in the Blackpool area, and this unit became the Fianna Active Service Unit in Cork.
FROM 1926 – 1964
Under the guidance of Countess Markievicz, Na Fianna was re-organised in 1924 after the turmoil of the “second defence of the Republic”. A new handbook was issued in the same year. The monthly organ of the organisation, Fianna, made its appearance again and brought news of the organisation to every corner of Ireland. Na Fianna continued to play a leading part in the education of the youth and the safeguarding of the national ideals throughout the land.
The Stormont authorities in the Six Counties, aware of the tremendous influence of the organisation on Irish boys, have waged a continuous war of intimidation, victimisation and terrorisation on its members down to the present day. They failed to break the organisation and during the periods of national resurgence the Fianna were always ready, willing and able to play their part in the national struggle.
There are many accounts of petty victimisation. In April 1935, William Watson, Malcomson St, Belfast, was remanded in custody after being charged with possession of four Fianna badges and a seditious notebook. In May 1938, Alex McCloskey was sentenced to six months imprisonment for organising Fianna Eireann in Belfast. Michael Smith, a sixteen year old youth, was sentenced to six months imprisonment with hard labour in Belfast, In February 1939, for putting up a poster calling for the release of Republican prisoners. He had one previous conviction. When he was 12 he was convicted of collecting for the Fianna. These are instances of the type of sentence imposed on Irish boys for the most trivial of “offences”. There are hundreds of such instances, ranging from 1922 to the present day, but these are typical.
It is regrettable that the full story of the Northern Division cannot be told at present. It is an epic in itself and has given such fine men to Ireland as Joe McKelvey, Séamus Burns, Thomas Williams, Paul Smith and Oliver Craven, to mention but a few.
In the late 1930s and the early 1940s the boys of the Dublin Brigade defied the Fianna Fáil ban on the Bodenstown pilgrimage by laying a wreath on the grave of Tone. This was achieved, despite the threatening guns of the Free State dupes, who were sent to Tone’s grave to prevent Republican Ireland honouring its national hero. It was often necessary to walk the 23 miles to Bodenstown and back on the following day, to defy the pseudo-Republicans of Leinster House.
These are the acts of defiance and National pride, which characterise all that is great in the fighting tradition of Ireland’s Fianna boys. Let it be 1940, when Bodenstown was banned or 1963, when the Easter Lily was banned – the boys of Na Fianna in every generation will be found in the front line of resistance to petty oppression. That is the Fianna spirit – the secret of its success.
This outline deals merely with the early years of the organisation and its great contribution to the national cause. The Fianna Roll of Honour is long, glorious and noble – an epic of heroism as great as the saga of the Fianna of Fionn, perhaps greater in so far as it existed and exists in this modern materialistic age of self-interest, where self sacrifice is frowned upon, idealism mocked and the unselfishness of youth ridiculed.
The boys of Na Fianna Éireann will continue to serve Ireland nobly and honourably by endeavouring to fulfil, in their generation, the national aspiration – an Ireland Gaelic and free. One day their work may assist in bringing about the sovereign independent Irish Republic, as visualised by Colbert, Heuston, Mellows, Smith and their comrades. During all the years since 1909, the proud record of Na Fianna has remained inspiring and unsullied. Ar aghaidh le Fianna Éireann!