Royal Irish Academy

A Revolution in Profiles - Co. Offaly

In association with The Royal Irish Academy

Eamon Bulfin 1892-1968

Eamon Bulfin was born in Buenos Aires in 1892. His father William (later known as Senor Bulfin or Che Buono in Ireland) was a native of Derrinlough who would eventually own the South Cross newspaper. His mother Annie was a member of the Rourke family of Ballymore in county Westmeath. In Argentina William published an English language newspaper, The Southern Cross. On his return Ireland he wrote a nationalistic travel guide, Rambles in Erin and threw his support behind Arthur Griifith’s Sinn Féin before his untimely death at 45 in 1910.

Eamon’s sister Catalina ‘Kid’ Bulfin was a member of Cumman na mBan and went on to marry well known republican Sean MacBride. His uncles Frank and Joe Bulfin were involved in cattle driving during the Ranch War. Frank was elected to Dail Eireann as a Sinn Féin TD at the 1921 election and re-elected as a pro-Treaty candidate in 1922.

Eamon studied at Patrick Pearse’s St Enda’s school and retained a close relationship with Pearse and his family. Margaret Pearse often stayed at Bulfin’s home and in the 1950s he donated some of Pearse’s writings kept at Derrinlough to the National Library.

His enthusiasm for hurling and football was noted at Enda’s. He went on to claim both Fitzgibbon and Sigerson medals while studying at UCD.

Inducted into the IRB in 1912, he was an early member of the Irish Volunteers joining the Rathfarfham company nicknamed Pearse’s Own. He took part the 1916 rising and is credited with raising a green Irish Republic flag, above the GPO on Easter Monday. In the aftermath of the rebellion, he was interned in Frongoch, Wales.

On his release he was involved in organising the volunteers in south Offaly along with another former Frongoch internee Eamon Morkan and was appointed vice commandant of the Birr Battalion. He campaigned in the East Cavan by-election which oversaw canvassing for Arthur Griffith.

In 1918, he was arrested along with Morkan and Frank Bulfin in connection with the German Plot. Along with his uncle Frank he was deported to Durham jail. Paroled in 1919 he was served with a deportation order. Lining out in what was probably his last hurling game Bulfin was a member of the Drumcullen side which defeated Birr at Kinnitty in the delayed 1918 South Offaly hurling final. By the Time Drumcullen defeated  North Offaly champions Rahan in the county final, Bulfin was already in Argentina. 

Appointed as an emissary of the Irish Republic before his deportation, on his arrival in Argentina he was detained and required to complete mandatory military service.

With the help of his sister Anitia, he operated an Irish legation in Buenos Aires. Later the Irish mission was reenforced with Larry Ginnell T.D and P.J Little. Bulfin carried out propaganda work and gun running, but his efforts to instigate a bond drive were overtaken by the Treaty. In his absence he was elected chairman of Offaly County Council in 1920.

Bulfin, Ginnell and Little all opposed the Treaty, and the Irish mission was closed in the Summer of 1922. Returning to Ireland, Bulfin took no active role in the Civil War.

He married Nora Brick a Kerry born Cumman na mBan member in 1927. In addition to farming at Derrinlough, he worked in the revenue commissioner’s office in Birr.

From the 1940’s the Bulfin’s were heavily involved in a project by the local guild of Muintir na Tire to develop a hall at Rath. In 1966 an appreciation night was held in the hall after the couple decided to retire to Donnybrook. Bulfin died in Dublin on Christmas eve 1968 and was buried at Eglish churchyard.

The Author wishes to acknowledge the existing work on Eamon Bulfin by both Brian Pey and John Gibney


Sources:

Bureau of Military History. Eamonn Bulfin (Witness 497) James Kenny (Witness 141)

Military Service Pension Files. Search online at https://www.militaryarchives.ie/collections/online-collections/military-service-pensions-collection-1916-1923

Eamonn Bulfin MSP34REF1098. Nora Bulfin MSP34REF24979

J.F. Burke. The Midland Tribune 1916-1966 supplement article ‘Birr man hoists the flag of the Irish Republic’ online at https://www.offalyhistory.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Supplement-1966.pdf

John Gibney RIA Dictionary of Irish Biography profile of Eamonn- Edmund Bulfin online at https://www.dib.ie/biography/bulfin-eamonn-edmond-a10114

Brian Pey. ‘Eamon Bulfin of Derrinlough’. In Offaly Heritage 9 edited by Ciaran Reilly. (Tullamore) 2016.

C.J. Woods RIA Dictionary of Irish Biography profile of William Bulfin online at https://www.dib.ie/biography/bulfin-william-a1109

Butte Independent 26 February 1910.

Irish Independent 15 June 1907. 22 July 1918.

Irish Times 29 June 1907.

Irish Press 8 June 1953.

Leinster Leader 31 March 1951.

Kings County Chronicle 20 January 1900.

Offaly Independent 26 March 1966.

Sunday Press 1 April 1979.

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