Royal Irish Academy

A Revolution in Profiles - Co. Offaly

In association with The Royal Irish Academy

Sean/John Blaney 1898-1922

John Blaney was born in Athlone in 1898. His parents William and Kate Blaney lived at Glesson Street and later Wolf Tone Terrace; it appears his family may have had connections in the Coosan locality. William and several his family worked in Athlone Woollen Mills, the towns major employer. Later, John Blaney also found employment in the mills. John’s brother William served with the National Army throughout the Civil War.

As a young man John Blaney joined the Gaelic League, Clan Uisneach pipers club and the Irish Volunteers. With a small group of volunteers, he appears to have mobilised to travel to Shannonbridge on Easter Sunday 1916 but dispersed after Eoin MacNeill’s countermanding order. Reports suggest that he was arrested in the aftermath of the Rising and spent a period imprisoned in Wakefied before being released and returned to Athlone.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, private Blaney was serving as orderly to Brigadier Joseph Adamson and was among the detachments of pro-Treaty troops who began to operate in west Offaly which had until then been under the control of the anti-Treaty IRA. On 5 July 1922, Blaney was shot dead by a republican column while traveling between Ballycumber and Ferbane.

Blaney’s death early in the Civil War caused profound shock in Athlone and he received a large public funeral. He was waked in the robes of the Third Order of St. Francis of which he was a member and received a guard of honour from his colleagues in the Irish National Foresters. The coffin was covered by the tricolour, the Forester’s sash and a white cockade. The military funeral was overseen by Brigadier Adamson, with pall bearers under the command of Capt. Dolan and the firing party overseen by Capt. Conway. The pipe and reed band lead the cortege from St. Mary’s church to Cornamagh cemetery, where the last post was sounded.


Sources:

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

Military Service Pension Files: John Blaney 2D13. William Blaney DP1058. Search online at http://mspcsearch.militaryarchives.ie/brief.aspx

Freemans Journal 10 July 1922.

Westmeath Independent. 8 July 1922. 15 July 1922. 9 August 2009.

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