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I've just finished my first book and although it has taken many years it has given me tremendous pleasure. I hope you will get the chance to read it soon.
‘Seamus you stay away from Sackville Street you little brat.’ The widowed Mrs Murphy shouted at her fourteen year old son. It was Wednesday afternoon and the fighting had been raging now for three days.
‘A Jaysus Ma. All the lads are down there. The Peelers have been taken off the streets and the army is too busy with the rebels to look after the shops. We’ll never get a chance like this again.’
Mrs Murphy, torn between a God sent opportunity to acquire some new clothes and concern for her son’s safety, allowed her desperate poverty to get the better of her judgement.
‘All right, go on then son. But for God’s sake be careful. See if you can’t get us a new coat out of Clery’s. And mind out for those gurriers in the GPO. If Mr Doyle from next door, wasn’t in Flanders shooting at Germans he might be down there with the army shooting at those feckin eejits.’
Young Seamus Murphy darted across Sackville Street and dived through one of the large windows of Clery’s department store. All of the windows to the store had been blown out by the gunfire and explosions happening around the GPO just across the wide boulevard. If Seamus hadn’t paused to look across to the GPO from where he’d been rummaging through women’s coats he might have been luckier. But one of the rebels watching from a second floor window of the post office mistook Seamus for an Army sniper and fired three shots at him. The first smacked off the window frame but the second shot caught Seamus full in the chest. He was dead before he landed on the pile of coats behind him.
After the excitement of Easter-week and its aftermath, Francis’ life turned back to relative normality. He took the Head Constable exam at the end of May and was waiting for the results when Teresa gave birth to their fourth child, Mary, in early June. Teresa, now quite confident in her mothering skills, had to balance the needs of the new baby with those of her other three children.
On the morning of Sunday 25 June the family were getting ready to go to Mass for their usual ten o’clock service. Francis dressed in his uniform as he was due to start a shift at two o’clock. He was in the kitchen, dressing Donagh and watching Rory and Annie finishing their breakfast. Teresa had gone upstairs to get baby Mary out of her cot and into a bath.
Little Donagh pulled his shirt down over his short pants, wobbled a bit on feet that were not yet quite steady and said to his father, ‘I’m not the baby anymore. Am I daddy?’
‘No son. You’re not. You are our little man now.’
‘But Daddy, I’m a boy. Rory is the one you call Little Man.’
Francis smiled to himself. ‘Yes son. You’re right. Rory’s our Little Man and so you’ll have to be our Little Boy.’
Teresa appeared in the doorway clutching the baby to her chest. She looked ashen. ‘Francis’ she whispered and trailed off.
Francis jumped to his feet and ushered Teresa out into the hallway. Over his shoulder he said to the children, ‘Annie, keep an eye on the boys for a bit. I’m just going to help your mother.’
The doctor declared Mary Maguire dead at half past ten on Sunday 25 June 1916. On the death certificate, Cause of Death, was recorded as ‘Not Known’.
As Francis stepped out of the kitchen Teresa pressed the baby to his chest and said, ‘Oh Francis, the baby’s not breathing. Please God don’t let her be dead.’
Francis took the baby into the front parlour and laid her on the settee. Her lips were blue and her eyes rolled to whites. He turned to Teresa and said, ‘Run to the corner, love. You’ll catch Doctor O’Donovan before he leaves for Mass. Ask him to come quickly and to bring his medical bag.’
But even before Teresa had left the house, Francis knew that Mary was beyond saving. He wrapped the baby in her blanket and took her back upstairs to her cot.
PEELER AND PATRIOT
As Ireland embarks on a decade of commemoration, this book tells the human story of one remarkable man who shaped and was shaped by those events. Understanding Ireland’s revolutionary years and their lasting impact, would be easier if you had lived there back then.
This is the true story, kept secret even from his own family, about a police chief in Ireland's ‘British’ police force who made a deal with the IRA, during the War of Independence, to keep his local town safe for everyone. It's a great story about a brave man and national hero.
During his life as a policeman in the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), Francis Maguire marched in Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee parade, heard Frank Larkin organise Belfast’s labourers, rescued Winston Churchill from a loyalist mob, saw the launch of the Titanic, attended Mayo’s first Republican Court and confronted murder and mayhem regardless of the identity of the perpetrators. Later as Chief Superintendent in An Garda Síochána, he trained the first recruits, developed the first office corps and stopped riots in Limerick during the building of the Ardnacrusha hydroelectric power station.
Having abandoned his life as a farm labourer in County Fermanagh, he moved to Belfast and became a keen rugby player and amateur Shakespearian actor. In short, Francis Maguire was the model of the perfect police officer. In 1911 he married Teresa Shanagher, the beautiful daughter of his station Sergeant, and together they raised a family of six children. Their lives were not without personal tragedy.
Having abandoned his life as a farm labourer in County Fermanagh, he moved to Belfast and became a keen rugby player and amateur Shakespearean actor. In short, Francis Maguire was the model of the perfect police officer. In 1911 he married Teresa Shanagher, the beautiful daughter of his station Sergeant, and together they raised a family of six children. Their lives were not without personal tragedy.
The outbreak of the Great War rescued Britain from the brink of a constitutional crises fueled by militant Ulster Unionism. As the century progressed, the role of the RIC was undermined by the failure of British Government policy in Ireland and the collapse of the judicial system in the face of Republican intimidation and violence. Combined, these factors created an impossible set of circumstances for the Irish police. But Francis continued to do his duty as best he could, until the fateful day he found that, in order to uphold the law he had sworn to protect, he was forced to face down the guns of a platoon of British Auxiliaries.
One of the remarkable things about Francis Maguire’s journey was that he spent the first eleven years of his life in Manchester, England, where he was born. He acquired a pronounced Mancunian accent, which never left him. On one occasion his English accent saved his life.
Francis Maguire was my grandfather.
This is his story.
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