Royal Irish Academy

A Revolution in Profiles - Co. Offaly

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George Frend. 1850-1921

George Frend was born in 1850 to Colonel William Frend and his wife Harriot. His father’s family traced their roots to Boskill in county Limerick. George Frend’s maternal grandfather was Captain George Garvey. After service in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, Captain Garvey began a career as a land agent for several Kings County landlords. In this role he carried out as a series of evictions throughout the 1840s and was the target of a number of unsuccessful assassination attempts.

George Frend’s cousins the Toler-Garveys acted as agents to Parson estates in Birr over several generations and promoted the unionist politics of their employers the Earls of Rosse. When the Kings County Orange Order was revived during the Land Wars of the 1880’s, Frend served as Worshipful Master of the Shinrone No Surrender Lodge. In 1912, he was present in Birr at a meeting organised by Kings County Unionists to oppose Home Rule.

After studying at the Model School Birr, Frend trained with his relation Toler Garvey before branching out to work on his own as a land agent. He also farmed extensively at Sliver Hills, served as a local magistrate and was a member of the Church of Ireland’s General Synod. In 1908 during the Ranch War, cattle and sheep were driven from his land at Army Hills. Frend also served as a magistrate at the local petty sessions. Some of his children emigrated to Australia, where they engaged in pastoral farming. One son J.R Frend served as an officer with the Leinster Regiment during the Great War and was awarded the D.S.O.

On December 28th, 1920, Frend was shot, while driving his horse and cart outside Moneygall. Information on the shooting is sparse but it is suspected to have been carried out without sanction by three IRA volunteers and to have had its roots in local land disputes.

In the days that followed, the crown forces carried out a series of raids in the locality. During these searches an unarmed IRA man Michael Kennedy at Cullenwaine was shot and mortally wounded when he attempted to evade a joint RIC/ Military raiding party. George Frend died at his home on 4 January 1921. At a subsequent compensation hearing a solicitor for his family stated…

There was no doubt in the minds of the relatives. There had been a considerable amount of trouble on the estate of Colonel Holmes, of which Mr Freud was agent. The tenants applied to have their farms bought out, and Colonel Holmes, through Mr Frend had refused, with the result that the tenants had refused to pay rents. About four writs and about eight processes had been Issued. Some of the tenants seemingly had decided to follow the example given by other parts of the country, as in the case of Shaw Taylor(1)

In the aftermath of Frend’s death the Nenagh Guardian commented…

A giant in physique, he was constant in observing and enforcing the laws according to the strictest letter of the statutes. He was unquestionably a courageous and fearless man but being connected to loathed system of land tenure which brought manifold miseries and hardships to Ireland he suffered from a good deal of unpopularity (2)

George Frend was interned at Shinrone graveyard.


National Archive WO/35150/53 Online at 

Garry Ahern. ‘The Frends of Boshill’ online at

Quincey Dougan. ‘All the Kings Men’ History Ireland’ online at

Sean Hogan. The Black and Tans in North Tipperary. (Tipperary) 2013.

Daithí O Corráin and Eunan O’Halpin. The dead of the Irish Revolution. (Yale) 2020.

Dublin Daily Express 29 June 1912.

Leinster Reporter. 31 May 1919.

Londonderry Sentinel 19 September 1908.

Nenagh Guardian. 8 January 1921.

Nenagh News. 9 April 1921.

The Tatler 11 July 1917.

(1) Nenagh News. 9 April 1921.

(2) Nenagh Guardian. 8 January 1921.

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