Royal Irish Academy

A Revolution in Profiles - Co. Offaly

In association with The Royal Irish Academy

Alfred Hayes/ James Albert Hayes/John Alfred Hayes 1902-22

Information on Alfred  Hayes is limited and somewhat contradictory. . In various press and military pension reports he is referred to Alfred, Albert, and James Alfred Hayes. He was born in Roscommon around 1902. His American born father John Hayes was employed as a railway porter who later worked as a council labourer and his mother Jane was a native of Meath. By 1911 the couple and their seven children were living in Bella Avenue, Mountjoy, Dublin and they later moved to Spollenstown in Tullamore.

Hayes is believed to have enlisted in the British Army while underage and seen service in the Great War. Prior to joining the National Army in 1922 he is reported to have worked as a council labourer and driver for Lumleys bakery

Stationed at Custume Barracks Athlone, on 25 August Hayes was detailed with driving three officers to Longford. Attempting to travel undetected, the party were dressed in civilian clothing and only two of the contingent were armed.

Approaching the village of Glasson five miles from Athlone, Hayes slowed the vehicle as they passed a line of farm carts. The car was attacked by a column of 20 Anti-Treaty IRA men. From the back seat, Captains Carroll and Rattigan attempted to return fire. In the passenger seat 16-year-old Lieutenant Sean McCormack from Moate was wounded and died shortly afterwards. Three civilians Patrick Murtagh, John McCormack and a Mrs. Boyd were also wounded.

Hayes attempted to continue in the direction of Tubberclair, but he too had been shot and was unable to drive. Rattigan and Carroll took to the fields to avoid the pursuing republicans who removed Hayes and McCormack from the car before setting it on fire.

Murtagh was taken to the local dispensary doctor but died later that day. Hayes was badly wounded Dr Glancy treated him at the scene and reported…

‘He had an entrance wound in the back of the right shoulder and an exit wound on the back of the led shoulder. The spinal cord was affected, and his legs were paralysed. He was not able to move.’ (1)

Removed to the Military Hospital he made a statement on the ambush but was unable to sign it.

‘I knew a man that was in the party by his voice. He worked in Tullamore. I saw him in different places. His name is Thomas Berry.” (1)

Hayes’s wounds became infected, and he died from septic pneumonia on August 29th. His remains were removed by train to Tullamore, from where an honour guard under the command of Lieut. Drum escorted the cortege to a funeral mass at the Church of the Assumption and burial at Clonminch cemetery.

The author wishes to acknowledge the existing work on the Glasson Ambush written by Ian Kenneally


Sources:

1901 and 1911 Census. Search online at http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/search/

Ian Kenneally ‘Civil War in Glasson’ online at westmeathculture.ie

Military Service Pension Files James Alfred Hayes (2D254) search online at http://mspcsearch.militaryarchives.ie/search.aspx?formtype=advanced

Offaly Independent 9 September 1922.

(1) Westmeath Independent 9 September 1922.

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