Patch and Thomas Kennedy
The Twelve Apostles
My name is Breda Reagan and I am the granddaughter of Patch Kennedy and grandniece of Tom of the Twelve Apostles. I suppose a bit of the background to who the Kennedys were. They were from Sliabh Rua, which is only a few miles out the road from Athenry. There was actually four brothers involved in The Rising. John their other brother who was living at home with them as well and Martin a brother who is living in Rockfield.
There was thirteen arrested originally but john was acquitted. They were living in the Moyode Estate and they were labourers for the Moyode Estate. So they joined the The Volunteer Force, I suppose really to change their lives ’cause they were fed up with the way things were in the day and Tom was only fifteen when he joined. So during The Rising they joined with Mellows at the college in Athenry and they were there with the whole gang, say the Clarinbridge lads and the Craughwell lads and the Oranmore crowd.
So I know there is a story that at one stage, Patch left the college with his horse and cart. They went foraging for food and they went as far as Rahard, to Kings of Rahard actually and they were trying to steal potatoes but they came accross the R.I.C. and they were brought under fire there and the fight lasted for five hours, so they were kind of, we’ll say I suppose the R.I.C. were hiding and they were trying to keep away from them. It went on for five hours but luckily nobody was hurt or killed. Eventually they got back to Mellows. I’m not sure if they got the spuds or not, but that’s the story anyhow.
So then when Mellows moved everybody to Moyode, really Patch and Tom are in their backyard then. The knew the place like the back of their hand. Again Patch went out foraging for food while they were there and also there was somebody in there that was very sick. At some stage and they needed some one to go and get medicine. So Tom left Moyode House and went to get… because he’d know the lie of the land and to know how to get out quick and back and they had some guards on the gate, you know from themselves. They posted guys and there was a password so when Tom left that was fine but when he came back there was a new guard and didn’t believe him, so took him a while to get back in but he was eventually recognised and brought back in and sure after The Rising was over and they decided to disband, well I think it was about a month later that they were arrested. Now Patch was arrested in his own house. I’m not quite sure where Tom was arrested but his mother was there at the time and when the soldiers came to take him away ‘course she stepped in and one of them pushed her away and Patch hit him and they hit Patch then and he always told us that they broke the socket of his eye, that day leaving the house.
Records are there to show he was marked over his eye. When they were arrested they did spend some time in the prisons here in Ireland. They were in Portlaoise I think, they went to Arbor Hill and Kilmainham as well for a couple of days but they were put on a cattle ship across to England and all the way across they were told that the boat would be sank and that they would be drowned and they were sent to Wormwood Scrubs. They were there for about seven Months, now they had a very hard time while they were there and Patch told us the story, I remember him telling us very vividly that they were so hungry that one day a crow was passing the yard and he dropped a crust of bread. About twenty men ran to get it, they were so hungry. Another story from their time in prison in Wormwood Scrubs was that they were, on nearly a daily basis, marched round a big hole in the ground, which was a lime pit and told that they would be shot and thrown in there and that would be the end of them and that would be their fate, which was I suppose a terrible threat to them really and they didn’t know any different. They knew the guys had been shot in Dublin. So they thought too that maybe they’d be shot as well, you know. So, they had no contact with home but Patch had the price of a stamp with them and somehow he persuaded a prison officer over there to let him post a letter. Now Patch could be quite persuasive at times and they got word back to their mother that they were alive at least. They didn’t know what their fate was going to be at this stage or how long they would be there but they were alive, so they got that word back to them.
Then they left and went to Lewis Prison, which was a less harsh regime and they seemed to have an easier time there and while they were there, Patch made a polish brush from horse hair, which we still have and they were released in March 1917. Even though they came back to Ireland, they were still, you know, they wanted to carry on the fight and on the way home, would you believe they stopped off in London and they met a guy who gave them guns to carry back, on their way home from prison and they got them as far as Dublin and it was to a tobacconist shop that they went to. A man called Tom Collins, they gave him the guns and on home again. They did carry on the fight because the two of them were involved in the War of Independance.
Granddad died in 1980. Tom died in 1976. I would have been nine when Tom died, so I remember him. He actually came to live with us, even though he lived next door. I’m living in his house now. Patch, sure he was with us ’till I was like fourteen or fifteen, so I remember them quite well
Is mise Breda Reagan gariníon le Patch Kennedy agus garneacht le Tom a bhí ar an Dáréag Aspal. Is dócha nár mhiste beagán eolais a thabhairt faoi mhuintir Kennedy. Ba as an Sliabh Rua iad nach bhfuil ach cúpla míle beag amach an bóthar as Baile Átha an Rí. Bhí ceathrar deartháireacha páirteach san Éirí Amach mar a tharlaíonn, iadsan agus John a bhí ina chónaí sa bhaile leo agus Martin, deartháir a bhí ina chónaí i nGort na Carraige.
Trí dhuine dhéag a gabhadh i dtosach ach fuarthas John neamhchiontach. Bhí siad ina gcónaí ar Eastát Mhaigh Fhód agus iad ina bhfir oibre ag Eastát Mhaigh Fhód. Chuaigh siad isteach i bhFórsa na nÓglach, is dócha dáiríre, le hathrú a chur ar an saol a bhí acu mar go raibh siad bréan den chaoi a raibh cúrsaí ag an am agus cúig bhliana déag a bhí Tom nuair a chuaigh sé leo. I rith an Éirí Amach ansin, bhí siad le Ó Maoilíosa ag an gcoláiste i mBaile Átha an Rí agus bhí siad ann leis an dream uilig, abair buachaillí Dhroichead an Chláirín agus buachaillí Chreachmhaoil agus lucht Órán Mór.
Tá a fhios agam ansin go bhfuil scéal ann faoi uair amháin ar fhág Patch an coláiste leis an gcapall agus an carr. Bhí siad ag cuardach bia agus chuaigh siad chomh fada leis an Ráth Ard, go dtí muintir Kings sa Ráth Ard go deimhin agus bhí siad ag iarraidh fataí a ghoid ach tháinig siad trasna ar lucht an R.I.C. agus tosaíodh ag scaoileadh leo ansin agus lean an troid go ceann cúig uaire an chloig. Bhí siad mar a déarfá, is dócha, bhí an R.I.C. i bhfolach agus bhí siad ag iarraidh fanacht glan orthu. Lean sin ar aghaidh go ceann cúig uaire an chloig agus bhí an t-ádh orthu nár gortaíodh aon duine ná nár maraíodh aon duine. Rinne siad bealach ar deireadh thiar ar ais chuig Liam Ó Maoilíosa. Níl a fhios agam an raibh na fataí acu nó nach raibh ach sin é an scéal ar chuma ar bith.
Nuair a d’athraigh Ó Maoilíosa gach uile dhuine go Maigh Fhód mar sin, bhí Patch agus Tom ar ais ina n-áit féin. Bhí eolas acu ar gach orlach den áit sin. Chuaigh Patch arís ag lorg bia nuair a bhí siad ansin. Bhí duine éigin freisin ann a bhí an-tinn. Theastaigh am éigin duine a chur ag iarraidh buidéal leighis dó agus d’fhág Tom Teach Mhaigh Fhód ag dul ag fáil… ó tharla go raibh eolas na háite acu agus go mbeadh a fhios acu le himeacht go beo agus a theacht ar ais agus bhí gardaí ag an ngeata acu, tuigeann tú, cuid acu féin. Bhí daoine ar garda ansin agus bhí focal acu agus nuair a d’imigh Tom bhí gach rud go breá ach nuair a tháinig sé ar ais bhí fear garda eile ann agus níor chreid sé é agus thóg sé tamall air a theacht ar ais isteach ach aithníodh sa deireadh é agus tugadh ar ais isteach é agus ar ndóigh tar éis an Éirí Amach, tar éis dóibh socrú go scaipfidís, bhuel déarfainn go raibh tuairim is mí caite gur gabhadh iad. Anois ina theach féin a gabhadh Patch. Níl mé cinnte cár gabhadh Tom ach bhí a mháthair in éineacht leis ag an am agus nuair a tháinig na saighdiúirí isteach ag dul á thógáil, ar ndóigh chuaigh sí eatarthu agus bhrúigh duine acu as an mbealach í. Bhrúigh Patch eisean agus bhuail siad Patch agus dúirt sé riamh linn gur bhris siad log na súile air an lá sin ag fágáil an tí.
Tá tuairiscí ar fáil i gcónaí a thaispeánann go raibh marc os cionn leathshúile leis. Tar éis iad a ghabháil, chaith siad roinnt ama i bpríosúin anseo in Éirinn. Bhí siad i bPort Laoise sílim. Tugadh go Cnoc an Arbhair agus go Cill Mhaighneann iad chomh maith ar feadh cúpla lá ach cuireadh ar long eallaigh iad anonn go Sasana agus bhí siad ag rá leo ar feadh an bhealaigh anonn go gcuirfí an bád go grinneall agus go mbáfaí iadsan. Cuireadh go Wormwood Scrubs iad agus bhí siad timpeall is seacht mí ansin. Anois bhí rudaí an-dona acu an fhad a bhí siad ansin agus d’inis Patch scéal dúinn, is cuimhin liom go maith é ag cur síos go soiléir dúinn ar iad a bheith chomh hocrach go raibh lá amháin a ndeachaigh préachán trasna an chlóis agus gur thit crústa aráin ón éan. Rith timpeall is fiche fear ag iarraidh an chrústa, bhí oiread sin ocrais orthu. Scéal eile ón am a chaith siad i bpríosún Wormwood Scrubs go ndéanfaí, beagnach gach lá, iad a mháirseáil go dtí poll mór sa talamh, clais aoil a bhí ann, agus go ndeirtí leo go raibh siad le scaoileadh agus go gcaithfí isteach ansin iad agus gurb é an deireadh é a bheadh orthu, nach raibh a mhalairt i ndán dóibh. Is dócha go mba uafásach an bhagairt sin orthu dáiríre, ní thuigfeadh siadsan nach é a bhí rompu. Bhí a fhios acu gur cuireadh na fir i mBaile Átha Cliath chun báis agus cheap siad dá bharr sin, tuigeann tú, go mb’fhéidir go scaoilfí iadsan freisin. Agus ní raibh scéal ar bith ón mbaile acu ach bhí luach stampa acu agus d’éirigh le Patch gur aontaigh oifigeach príosúin ligean dó litir a phostáil. Bhíodh Patch go maith maidir le cead a fháil an rud ba mhian leis féin a dhéanamh agus d’éirigh leo scéal a chur ar ais chuig a máthair go raibh siad beo ar chaoi ar bith. Ní raibh a fhios acu ag an am céard a bhí i ndán dóibh ná cé chomh fada agus a bheidís thall ach bhí siad beo agus d’éirigh leo an scéal sin a chur abhaile.
Chuaigh siad as sin go Príosún Lewis, áit nach raibh chomh géar céanna agus is cosúil go raibh rudaí níos fearr ansin acu. Le linn dóibh a bheith ansin, rinne Patch scuab snasta as fionnadh capaill atá againn i gcónaí. Scaoileadh amach iad i mí Márta 1917. Cé gur tháinig siad ar ais go hÉirinn, bhí siad ag iarraidh, tuigeann tú, bhí siad ag iarraidh leanúint leis an troid agus ar an mbealach abhaile, an gcreidfeá gur stop siad i Londain agus gur chas siad le duine a thug gunnaí dóibh le tabhairt leo, ar a mbealach abhaile as an bpríosún, agus thug siad chomh fada le Baile Átha Cliath iad agus is chuig siopa tobac a thug siad iad. Fear a raibh Tom Collins air, is dósan a thug siad na gunnaí agus ar ais abhaile ansin. Lean siad ar aghaidh leis an troid mar bhí beirt acu sáite i gCogadh na Saoirse.
Cailleadh Deaideo sa bhliain 1980. Cailleadh Tom sa bhliain 1976. Naoi mbliana a bhí mise nuair a cailleadh Tom, is cuimhin liom é. Tháinig sé ina chónaí in éineacht linn cé gur sa teach i mbéal an dorais a chónaíodh sé roimhe sin. Tá mise i mo chónaí sa teach sin aigesean anois. Patch, mhair seisean go raibh mé ceithre bliana déag nó cúig bhliana déag, tá cuimhne mhaith agam orthu.