Royal Irish Academy

A Revolution in Profiles - Co. Offaly

In association with The Royal Irish Academy

James Moran 1889-1987

James (Ginger) Moran was born in Trim in 1887. Two years later he moved with his parents Thomas and Christina (nee Wilton) to Kilcock. Thomas worked as labourer and was a member of the United Irish League, James is believed to have joined the National Volunteers in 1914.

At the outbreak of war, his brothers Edward and Jack enlisted in the British Army. In 1915, Edward died from the effects of a poison gas attack while serving with the Dublin Fusiliers in France.

James Moran won Kildare Senior football championships with Kilcock in 1914 and 1917 under the supervision of 1905 All Ireland medalist Tommy Kelly. Usually deployed as a forward, the tactical decision to play Moran at full back in the 1919 All Ireland Final against Galway is cited as a contributary factor in Kildare’s pedestrian 2-5 to 0-1 victory.

For many years Moran worked as a labourer on the McHugh Demesne in Kiltega County Wicklow and cycled home on weekends. In 1916 he moved to Edenderry to take a job at Alesbury Mills.

The Alesbury’s were members of Edenderry’s small but important Quaker community. Their factory employed over 100 people in coach building and furniture production.

While working at Alesbury’s, Moran joined the local company of the Irish Volunteers. Separatist politics was present in Edenderry before the Easter Rising and the town was host to series of high-profile Sinn Féin meetings during the conscription crisis, 1918 election and well into 1919.

Nevertheless, the volunteer movement in the town faced several obstacles, including mutual animosity between the Irish Volunteer commander Michael Foley and older republicans who controlled the local Sinn Féin club.

After a reorganisation in the Summer of 1920, the 4th Battalion of the Offaly No. I Brigade was formed comprising of companies at Edenderry, Bracknagh, Castlejordan, Rathangan and later in Cushina. Rathangan man Sean Powell, a brother of well-known jockey Paddy Powell was chosen to lead the Battalion and Moran was appointed vice commandant.

Powell and Moran’s efforts to revive the IRA in north Offaly were aided by a sympathetic policeman stationed in Edenderry. Sergeant Robert Galvin provided information on RIC raids before his transfer out of the area in 1921.

In one of the new Battalions first operations, Moran organised the hold up of a train at Carbury to seize mails.

In October 1920, IRA headquarters in Dublin ordered local units to carry out reprisal killings in response to the death of Terence MacSweeney on hunger strike in Brixton prison. As part of this operation the Tullamore IRA shot dead Sergeant Henry Cronin on 31 October.

The following morning Kevin Barry was executed in Mountjoy Jail. That night the Edenderry IRA targeted a police patrol in Market Square. A shootout developed during which Moran was slightly wounded in the neck.

Fortunate to avoid arrest when four armed Edenderry IRA men were captured in April 1921, on 3 June Moran led an attack on Blundell House which housed extra police posted to the town. The IRA withdrew without inflicting casualties, but Constable Patrick McDonald was accidentally shot dead by a colleague during the skirmish. Shortly before the Truce the Edenderry IRA mortally wounded Constable George Adam.

In the aftermath of the War of Independence, Moran established a bike shop and hackney business in Edenderry. Supportive of the Treaty he does not appear to have fought in in the Civil War. In August 1922 he was chosen to represent Edenderry at the funeral of Arthur Griffith.

Returning to the playing fields, Moran was a member of the Rathangan side which claimed the 1922 Leinster Leader Cup. After Kildare’s defeat to Kilkenny in the 1923 Leinster Championship he retired from inter-county football. In later years he acted as a referee for games in Offaly.

Moran served in the Local Defence Forces during the Emergency and along with other veterans like James Earle and James Farrelly  organised the Edenderry Old IRA Association, acting as its chairman and playing a prominent role in commemorative activities.

James Moran passed away in January 1987. After a funeral mass at St. Mary’s Church Edenderry, he was buried in the nearby cemetery.

The Author wishes to acknowledge the substantial pre-existing work by Ciaran Reilly on James Moran


Military Service Pension Collection. A17 1 Offaly 3 Southern. Search online at

Richard Commins. ‘Kilcock’s James “Ginger” Moran- No ordinary Man’. Kildare Nationalist online at

Ciaran Reilly. Edenderry 1916 and the revolutionary era. (Edenderry) 2016.

Ciaran Reilly. “James Ginger Moran- From full back to IRA leader” in Offaly Heritage 11 edited by Ciaran Reilly.(Tullamore) 2020.

Stanley and Moran, two stars of Kildare’s 1919 victory” Kildare Nationalist Centenary online at

“The Kildare Team and officials for the 1919 All-Ireland Profiles” online at

Karel Kiely, John Dorney & Mario Corrigan.’ The World War I Dead of Co. Kildare’. Online

Leinster Leader. 15 October 1927. 29 July 1944. 11 May 1946. 22 February 1947. 6 September 1952. 17 April 1954.

Midland Counties Advertiser. 25 July 1940.

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