Royal Irish Academy

A Revolution in Profiles - Co. Offaly

In association with The Royal Irish Academy

Joseph Lawlor 1895-1922

Joseph Lawlor was born at Tullamore in 1895. At the time of the 1901 census his family lived at Killeenmore, by 1911 they resided in a labourer’s cottage at Clonminch. His father Thady was an agricultural labourer and his mother Teresa sometimes worked as a domestic servant. 

Over the course of the Great War as many as 500 men from Tullamore and its surrounds fought in the British military. Joseph Lawlor been working as a labourer on the Haines Dent farm at Clonminch before joining the army in 1914. In 1915 he was reported as serving with the Royal Irish Rifles at the Dardanelles. He was demobilised at the time of the disbandment of the Irish Regiments. Returning to Tullamore he found work in a bicycle repair shop. 

At the beginning of the Civil War the pro-Treaty National Army found itself outnumbered and began to recruit heavily from amongst the ranks of the demobilished soldiers. Lawlor joined up at this time, probably at Custume Barracks Athlone.

In July, he was one of the soldiers dispatched under Brigadier Anthony Lawlor to counter anti-Treaty activity in north Connacht. On 8th September, Joseph Lawlor was part of a detachment travelling by Lancia car between Ballina and Sligo. The vehicle overturned as it turned a corner at Ballysadare and Private Lawlor was killed.

Lawlor’s remains were waked at his mother’s home and he buried with full military honours at Killeigh following mass in the parish church.

On the evening of Lawlor’s funeral, a Ford car and lorry conveying his honour guard back to Tullamore were ambushed at Scrub Hill by anti-Treaty troops concealed in Burnett’s Wood. Private Mooney was wounded in the foot and removed to the county hospital while the National Army contingent deployed a Lewis gun on the republican position. The attackers withdrew without suffering any casualties.


1901 and 1911 Census. Search online at

Michael Byrne. ‘Offaly and the Great War’ (2018) 2018.

Freemans Journal. 13 September 1922.

Irish Times. 13 September 1922.

Leinster Reporter 16 September 1922.

Sligo Independent. 16 September 1922.

Westmeath Independent. 16 September 1922.

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