Royal Irish Academy

A Revolution in Profiles - Co. Offaly

In association with The Royal Irish Academy

Jack Drumm 1900-1990

Jack Drumm was born at Tullamore in 1900. His father James worked as a labourer. His mother Mary worked as a domestic servant. Mary’s brother, Philip Cunningham served as chairman of the local branch of the Town Tenants League. Jack’s older brother Patrick worked at Tarleton’s maltings, played on the Tullamore football side which claimed the Offaly senior championship three times between 1911 and 1913. Patrick was closely associated with the National Foresters and the Holy Family Confraternity. Another sibling Daniel served in the British Army during the Great War and later help administer the towns British Legion branch. Jack’s youngest brother James served in the National Army during the Civil War. 

Jack Drumm joined the volunteers during the War of Independence and was an active member of the Tullamore company, blocking roads and moving arms. In the April 1921 he participated in a plan by the Tullamore IRA to carry out multiple, roughly simultaneous attacks on RIC men around the town. Drumm escaped unhurt after an exchange of shots at Barrack Street, but another IRA man Matthew Kane was found dead the following morning. Later Drumm took part in an attempted ambushed by the brigade flying column at Kavanaghs Gate, Geashill and an aborted assault on Clonbullogue Barracks.

Commissioned as a Lieutenant in the National Army in early 1922, he was captured at Daingean and imprisoned at the anti-Treaty divisional headquarters in Birr for a few days in April before being released. Active across north Offaly in the Civil War, he was lost an arm after being shot at Killeigh in May 1923 while attempting to capture anti-Treaty leader Séan McGuinness.

A member of the Army Comrades Association in the early 1930s, Drumm later served as a Fine Gael urban councilor. He was regular visitor to Tullamore’s British Legion Hall, where his brother Daniel served as chairman and enjoyed cordial relations with opponents from the Civil War. 

In 1953, Drumm and Sean McGuinness jointly unveiled the Old IRA monument at Tullamore courthouse. He regularly attended the Easter commemorations in Tullamore and made an annual pilgrimage each August for the Michael Collins event at Beal na Blath. 

When Jack Drumm passed away in May 1990 the 6th infantry Battalion carried out the military duties at his funeral in Clonmich cemetery. A piper played ‘the green flag’ and ‘oft in the stilly night’. The last post and reveille were sounded, at Drumm’s request no shots were fired over his coffin. As most of his comrades had predeceased him, the oration was given by his son Sean who had served with the Royal Air Force during World War II.


Sources:

Military Service Pension Collection. Brigade Activity report. Search online at https://www.militaryarchives.ie/collections/online-collections/military-service-pensions-collection1916-1923

National Army Census online at https://census.militaryarchives.ie/pdf/Tullamore_Tullamore_Sub-Command_Southern_Command_Page_22.pdf

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

P.J. Goode. ‘A People’s Army: Cloneygowan, D Company Second Battalion Offaly No.1 Brigade Irish Republican Army 1919-1923.’ (Cloneygowan) 2021.

Leinster Leader. 11 April 1953. 8 August 1953.

The Nationalist. 9 September 1989. 9 June 1990.

Offaly Independent. 25 February 1922. 11 March 1922. 9 May 1953. 16 April 1966.

Westmeath Independent. 4 April 1975. 27 February 1976.

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