Humphrys genealogy

Genealogy research by Mark Humphrys.

My ancestors - Cashel - Contents

Alice Cashel

Alice Cashel, 1921.
See larger and full size.

Alice Cashel,
Sinn Fein activist and County Councillor,
"Al", born 16 or 17 July 1878, Parsonstown (now Birr), Co.Offaly.
See Wikipedia.
Her family lived Limerick, 1881 to 1893.
Her family lived Cork, 1893 on.
Her sister Agnes married 1895 to James O'Mara, who became a Home Rule MP in 1900.
Alice is listed in 1901 census as a teacher, and undergraduate at R.U.I., staying in a house in Platin, Co Meath, age 22 yrs.
She wit her sister Kathleen's mar 1904.

Gaelic League and republicanism:
She became a member of the Gaelic League (founded 1893).
Her obituary says she was "a founder member of the Gaelic League" but that seems highly unlikely (she was age 15 in 1893).
She was a supporter of Sinn Fein as early as her brother-in-law James O'Mara, around 1907 [Lavelle, 1961].
Living with her father in Cork in 1911 census, she is at "teacher training college", speaks Irish (only one in family listed as speaking Irish).
"Miss Cashel" (Alice) was on Cork Municipal School of Commerce staff, 1911-1912.
Terence MacSwiney was also on the staff. Alice and her sister Kathleen became great friends with his family, the Cork republican family, the MacSwiney's. This family may be relations of their stepmother Marion McSwiney.
Alice was an early member of Cumann na mBan (founded 1914). She set up the Cork branch of Cumann na mBan with Annie MacSwiney about 1914-15. She became secretary of the branch.
In 1916 she was living in Limerick.
She took part in plans for the 1916 Rising in Co.Cork, but the plans were aborted. Letter of 17 March 1954 recalls that she was in Ballingeary, Co.Cork, with Sean O'Hegarty during Easter Week 1916.
She went to America in Aug 1916 and made contact with John Devoy. Returned to Ireland in Jan 1917.
She went in 1917 to teach in Mary MacSwiney's school, St. Ita's School for girls, Cork.
In Jan 1918 she was living at her sister's Galway house, Barfield.
Her brother-in-law, Sinn Feiner James O'Mara, paid for her to go help in the South Armagh by-election of 2 Feb 1918.

Cumann na mBan organiser:
She was appointed a full-time organiser of Cumann na mBan in Feb 1918.
She organised for Cumann na mBan in Co.Donegal in early 1918. The development of Cumann na mBan in the county dates from her 1918 visit.
She campaigned for Arthur Griffith of Sinn Fein (in jail at the time) in East Cavan by-election June 1918 (in which Griffith was elected).
On 15 Aug 1918 (incorrectly written in [BMH] as 1919) she held a banned meeting at Clifden, Co.Galway, which was broken up by the police. In [BMH] she says: "Orders had been sent from Sinn Fein H.Q. that on the 15th August a manifesto should be read in public by every Sinn Fein club in the country. On the morning of the meeting I was informed by one of the local R.I.C. that if I held the meeting I should be arrested. We held the meeting near the square, it was broken up by the police, the platform planks on barrels being pulled from under our feet. We stayed on until the last plank was taken. Then I reorganised the women in the street and marched them out of the town and held my meeting on the monument base which stands on a hill outside Clifden. While the police followed me the Secretary of the Sinn Fein club finished the reading of the Manifesto. I then had to ?go on the run.?" She spent much time "on the run" in various safe houses in Co.Galway and Co.Mayo.
Her brother-in-law James O'Mara became a member of the first Dail Eireann in Jan 1919.

War of Independence:
Alice was already "on the run" from the British before the War of Independence started in Jan 1919.
She fell into poor health and had to stop her work.
In summer 1919 [BMH] she went to live at her sister Agnes' newly-bought Connemara house, Cashel House.
James O'Mara went to America in Oct 1919. Agnes would go over later in Apr 1920. Alice stayed in Cashel House.

Jailed briefly in 1920:
After her past events, the local police in Cashel were suspicious of Alice even though she was not doing much.
Cashel House was raided by the British in Apr 1920. Alice escaped through the woods behind the house and away up Cashel Hill.
She was captured in a raid a few days later. See item in Cork Examiner, April 15, 1920.
She spent one week in Galway Gaol, returned to great reception. A bonfire was lit for her on Cashel Hill.
See item in Irish Independent, April 20, 1920. Also item in Freemans Journal, April 20, 1920. These say she was arrested at "Cashel Lodge".

Sinn Fein councillor, Vice-Chairman of Galway County Council, 1920-21:
As a result of her arrest and jailing, Alice was thrust into public life again. She was made a Sinn Fein member of Galway County Council in June 1920. At the meeting of Clifden Rural District Council on Mon 7 June 1920, Alice was co-opted onto Clifden R.D.C. and also nominated onto Galway County Council. See report in Connacht Tribune, June 12, 1920. It says that Alice "resides at Cashel with her sister". See report in Irish Independent, June 14, 1920.
She was immediately elected Vice-Chairman of Galway County Council on Fri 18 June 1920, and would be Vice-Chairman until 1921. See report in Connacht Tribune, June 19, 1920.
See extract from [GCC minutes, 18 June 1920, GC1-3(b), p.221], courtesy of Galway County Council Archives.
Galway County Council, like many other councils, now answered to the Dail not to the British.

The Dail, as well as taking over local government, set up a parallel courts system. Alice acted as a judge in Sinn Fein courts in War of Independence. She was a "Parish Justice" in Connemara district. She describes the operation of these underground courts in [BMH].
See motion by Alice about police in extract from [GCC minutes, 18 Aug 1920, GC1-3(b), p.247], courtesy of Galway County Council Archives.
See motion by Alice about police in extract from [GCC minutes, 24 Aug 1920, GC1-3(b), p.251], courtesy of Galway County Council Archives.
Cashel House was raided again a few times in 1920. Alice describes escaping up Cashel Hill in [BMH].
Eithne O'Mara remembered one time Cashel House raided, Aunt Al fled up Cashel Hill. Eithne trekking up hill, bringing food up to her, only to find she had headed off the other side down to a friend in the next valley. Eithne most annoyed.
Alice went to Dublin and then to Paris. In her absence, Galway County Council passed a peace resolution on 3 Dec 1920, repudiating the authority of the Dail and calling on the Dail to negotiate a truce with the British. Alice's obituary says the council voted to accept "a British-controlled type of Home Rule". When she got back, Alice led a successful attempt to overturn this resolution.

Jailed Jan-July 1921:
She was arrested on 19 Jan 1921 when she came to Galway to a meeting of Galway County Council. A search of her lodgings found "seditious documents" (documents from the banned Dail Eireann). She was held in Galway Gaol. See item in Connacht Tribune, February 19, 1921. She is still Vice-Chairman of Galway County Council.
She was court-martialled at Renmore Barracks, Galway, on Thur 24 Feb 1921. Sentenced to 6 months. Pat Lavelle said: "we were proud of her - an aunt important enough to be in prison". Her sister Agnes wrote from the US: "You are splendid. I wish I could go and see you."
She wrote letter of 25 Feb 1921 to the O'Maras: "I am lodged back here again."
See report in Tuam Herald, February 26, 1921. See report in Western People, March 5, 1921. Describes her as Acting Chairman of Galway County Council, with an address at "Cashel". She refused to recognise the court, and made a statement declaring the allegiance of Galway County Council to the Dail, "the only government which I and they recognise".
Served the sentence in Galway Gaol. Released 25 July 1921.
She opposed the Treaty, Dec 1921.
See her dissent in the council Treaty debate in extract from [GCC minutes, 30 Dec 1921, GC1-3(c), p.328], courtesy of Galway County Council Archives.

She worked for the Republican side in the Civil War, but does not detail this in [BMH].
She never married.
She worked for a time in the Revenue Department, Dublin Castle.
She lectured in UCG, possibly taught a subject on the H.Dip. course.
See her argument with Jim Sullivan about the Blennerhassetts, sometime before 1935.
She wrote novels. Author of:

In later life she lived St.Catherine's, Roundstone, Connemara, Co.Galway. Think she was there c.1940. Definitely there in 1950.
See Letter of 12 April 1950 from the Bureau of Military History to her, thanking her for her statement. Addressed to St Catherine's, Roundstone.
See Letter of 17 March 1954 from her. Sent from Roundstone.
Her nephew Steen O'Mara (who didn't marry) stayed with her a lot (according to Muffie de Courcy).
Living Roundstone at death.
She died 22 Feb 1958, Regional Hospital, Galway, age 79 yrs [GROI].
See mass card.
See obituary in Irish Press, February 24, 1958.
See obituary in Irish Times, February 24, 1958.
Funeral 25 Feb, buried in the New Cemetery, Bohermore, Galway.
The Taoiseach and President sent representatives to the funeral. The Mayor of Galway attended. The Cathaoirleach of the Seanad Liam O Buachalla gave an oration. See report in Irish Press, February 26, 1958.
See report in Connacht Tribune, March 1, 1958.

Cork Municipal School of Commerce staff, 1911-1912.
Front row has (3rd from RHS) "Miss Cashel" (Alice) and (2nd from RHS) Terence MacSwiney.
From Cork Public Museum.

Close-up of "Miss Cashel" and Terence MacSwiney.
Printed in an unknown later newspaper. This gives the names.
See full size. See other shot.
See another copy.

"After Aunt Al's return from jail" (1920 or 1921), with the O'Mara's at Cashel House.
Think Back (Left to Right): Una, Maureen, Eileen, Steen,
and Middle (Left to Right): Sheila, Eithne.
Front: Alice Cashel.

The court-martial of Alice Cashel in Feb 1921.
From Tuam Herald, February 26, 1921.

Alice Cashel. See full size.

Alice Cashel on a Dublin street.
See larger and full size.

Back: Eithne O'Mara, Dick Humphreys, unknown.
Front: Alice Cashel.
Photo 1932.

Oration at Alice's funeral in 1958.
From Irish Press, February 26, 1958.


St.Catherine's, Roundstone, Co.Galway

St.Catherine's, Roundstone, Connemara, Co.Galway (see map).
Home of Alice Cashel.
Think she was there c.1940. She was definitely there in 1950.
She was living there at death 1958.

The house is on the main N-S road in Roundstone village, in the middle of a small block on the W side of the road.

Alice Cashel's house ("St.Catherine's") in Roundstone (middle house of block). Think c.1940.

The house today (middle house of block).
The roof is re-built. The neighbouring buildings are re-built. The door and lower windows are similar. The wall is similar.
2009 screenshot from street view.

The lights of Leaca Bán


The lights of Leaca Bán.
From [Cozzens, 2015]. See full size.

The song "Leaca Bán" (2015) by Dundalk trad group Na Tonnta uses lyrics from Alice Cashel's words.
Click to play.


Alice Cashel's grave

Alice Cashel's grave, New Cemetery, Bohermore, Galway (see street view).
The grave is in Section E, Row 1, Grave 23. In the SW section of the graveyard.
See burial entry.

Grave of Alice Cashel.
She is written in Irish as "Eilis Ni Caisil" of Roundstone, Connemara.
See larger and full size.
Photo 2015. Courtesy of Christine Cozzens.
See wider shot.
See other 2015 shot.

Wider shot showing location of grave.
See larger and full size.
Photo 2015. Courtesy of Christine Cozzens.
See other 2015 shot and other angle.


"Cashel Cottage"

Alice lived for a time at her sister's grand house, Cashel House, Cashel, Connemara, Co.Galway.
A June 1920 report (above) says that Alice "resides at Cashel with her sister".
[BMH] is clear that she is living at Cashel House in this period.

There was a story that Alice lived for a time (maybe later) at a "Cashel Cottage" near Cashel House.
But I cannot identify "Cashel Cottage", or find any contemporary reference to it.
It may be an error. It seems more likely she lived at Cashel House.

May and Jim King

May and Jim King appear in family photos of the family of James O'Mara and Agnes Cashel.
It was thought that May, born maybe c.1890, might be a relation, either on O'Mara or Cashel side.
But this must be Jim King, OC of the IRA Roundstone Batallion. Our family would have known him through politics. He would have known Alice Cashel and probably the O'Maras. He had a wife Mary.
So they were friends and comrades, not relations.
Jim's biography is as follows:



Sources yet to be consulted

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