Royal Irish Academy

A Revolution in Profiles - Co. Offaly

In association with The Royal Irish Academy

John Greene/Green 1872-1921

John Greene was born around 1872 and entered the RIC in 1892.

Greene listed himself as a native of Kings County on census forms and is believed to have come from from the north of the county, when he joined the RIC in 1892 his reference was provided by District Inspector Tyacke of Edenderry.

While serving in Waterford, Greene married Catherine Doyle. At the time of the 1911 census the couple and their three children were living on a farm belonging to Catherine’s mother just over the border in Kilkenny.  

Stationed at Peter Street barracks in Waterford, Greene provided intelligence to republicans in the city. In his statement to the Bureau of Military History, IRA officer William Keane was fulsome in his praise of Greene…  

 ‘I would like to pay tribute to the memory of Sergeant Greene of the R.I.C. Waterford. This man was one of our best friends ‘on the inside’. Many a time he sent out word of raids about to come off and, consequently, a lot of our lads escaped jail and probably worse, thanks to Sergeant GreeneIt is only fair to this man’s memory that this should be recorded, as I myself know what a true Irishman Sergeant Greene was, even if he did wear a policeman’s uniform.’ (1)

Another IRA man, Daniel Ennis remarked…

Knowing Sergeant Greene as I did, he hated the Black & Tans and would do anything to help the I.R.A.’ (2)

Sergeant Greene was found dead in Peter Street barracks in September 1921. The medical evidence at his inquest suggested that he had died from a self-inflicted gunshot…

The doctor who had attended deceased earlier in the day concluded that the act was due to the great mental strain of the past two years, and the outlook for the future may have been embarrassing. Witness had given him a certificate exempting him from duty for a week. He complained of his stomach and was unable to sleep well.’ (3)

 In their statements to the BMH, William Keane and Daniel Ennis speculated that John Greene had been killed by members of the Crown Forces who had discovered his republican sympathies. These statements were both made decades after the War of Independence and mistakenly suggest that Greene’s death occurred in the Spring of 1921, rather than in September during the Truce, but how this error effects the veracity of the other claims is difficult to determine. 


Sources:

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

Bureau of Military History Statements. William Keane Witness 1023.  Daniel Ennis Witness 1132. Liam Walshe Witness 1005. Search online at  https://www.militaryarchives.ie/collections/online-collections/bureau-of-military-history-1913-1921/bmhsearch/

Military Service Pension Collection. Moira Kelly MSP34REF427. Search online at https://www.militaryarchives.ie/collections/online-collections/military-service-pensions-collection-1916-1923

Royal Irish Constabulary Records. Service Number 55256. HO 184/29 online at https://www.findmypast.ie/

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

Evening Echo. 14 September 1921.

(1) Bureau of Military History Statements. William Keane Witness 1023. Search online at  https://www.militaryarchives.ie/collections/online-collections/bureau-of-military-history-1913-1921/bmhsearch/

(2) Bureau of Military History Statements. Daniel Ennis Witness 1132. Search online at  https://www.militaryarchives.ie/collections/online-collections/bureau-of-military-history-1913-1921/bmhsearch/

(3) Evening Echo. 14 September 1921.

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