Royal Irish Academy

A Revolution in Profiles - Co. Offaly

In association with The Royal Irish Academy

Mary Anne Meleady/ Treacy 1892-1978

Mary Anne Meleady was born at Tullamore around 1892. Her parents William and Teresa Meleady farmed at Ballydaly two miles outside the town. Teresa’s father, Michael Flanagan is reported to have been evicted from a farm in Killeigh, a family history which shaped the Meleady children’s political consciousness.

Mary Anne trained as a nurse but remained on the family farm and helped her mother raise her younger siblings after her father’s death. Three of her sisters entered the Holy Faith Order as nuns. Her younger brother Martin joined the Irish Volunteers in 1917 and went on to serve as Quartermaster to the north Offaly Brigade. Along with two of her sisters, Mary Anne joined the Cumman na mBan and helped establish a section at Ballydaly which functioned as a unit within the Tullamore branch. Republican leader Sean McGuinness described the Meleady home as the …

rendezvous for the founders of the IRA movement in North Offaly as well as for the officers, staff and men carrying on the fight from 1916-24

During the War of Independence, Mary Anne Meleady carried dispatches, visited prisoners in Maryborough Gaol and participated in munitions work with her brothers and sisters, helping to produce pikes and refill shotgun cartridges with lead pellets. Mary Anne transported weapons throughout the conflict and helped to secure arms from RIC raiding parties.

The farms’ location meant that it often served as a bolt-hole for republicans from Tullamore or those traveling to or from Dublin. The ‘Big Four’ Sean Treacy, Dan Breen, Seamus Robinson and Sean Hogan were hidden on the farm for several weeks in 1919 as they made their way from Tipperary to Dublin in the aftermath of the Knocklong Railway station rescue.

Given her training as a nurse, Meleady’s house often served as an unofficial field hospital where wounded or exhausted officers recuperated. In 1918, Peader Bracken spent several weeks recovering at Ballydaly. A year later, having escaped from Mountjoy Sean Robbins convalesced at Ballydaly while recovering from the aftereffects of imprisonment and a hunger strike. Meleady treated her brother when he was seriously injured while taking part in an attack on the Clara RIC Barracks, in the Summer of 1920 and cared for Daingean IRA man Barty Byrne when he contracted blood poisoning.

In the later phase of the War of Independence, Meleady’s farm served as base for the north Offaly flying column. During Civil War the house remained a safe haven for anti- Treaty republicans and was raided on numerous occasions by pro-Treaty forces.

Marrying in 1925, Mary remained at Ballydaly for the rest of her life.

Mary Anne Treacy died at the county hospital Tullamore on 13 April 1978. After a funeral at the Church of the Assumption, she was buried at Durrow graveyard.


Sources:

Military Service Pension Collection. Ann Marie Treacy MSP34REF59520. Marin Meleady MSF34REF18658. Ellen O’Brien MSP34REF59629. https://www.militaryarchives.ie/collections/online-collections/military-service-pensions- collection-1916-1923

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

Valerie Cox. Independence Memories. (Dublin) 2021.

Drogheda Independent. 26 February 1921

Irish Independent. 14 April 1978.

Leinster Reporter. 25 December 1920.

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