Aggie Qualter – The Athenry Link

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In 1920, James Daly of the Connaught Rangers led a mutiny in India in protest against the atrocities of the Black and Tans in Ireland. He ripped down the Union Jack and then led a company in an attack on a British army post. The result for Daly was Court-Martial and execution. He was buried within the walls of an Indian prison. Daly ’s name was consigned to the list of forgotten men for over fifty years until the late Guard Burke, the Grove, Athenry, a close friend of the Dalys, highlighted the case.

He approached a number of influential men, who formed a committee, and launched a very successful campaign to have Daly’s remains returned to Ireland. The response from the Irish people was immediate and over-whelming – the Government acted quickly, and with the approval of the Indian Prime Minister, the bones of this great man were brought back to rest in his homeland.

Every organisation was represented at the Daly funeral. He was given all the honour, recognition and drum-beating befitting a brave soldier and martyr. We can be justifiably proud that an Athenry man played such an important and decisive role in this historic and memorable event.

I might also add that the Government of this country over a period of fifty years, from1922 on, must feel a sense of shame for their attitude of total indifference to James Daly – a man so brave, that he sacrificed his life in far-off India for Ireland’s cause.

In 1942, during WW11, four Generals of the Allied Supreme Command made a forced landing at Athenry. Travelling from America to London for a military conference, they made an unplanned inspection tour of North Africa.

They visited Cairo, refuelled at Gibraltar on the return journey, but lost their way over the Bay of Biscay. They asked for their exact position on radio but were intercepted by a German fighter, who picked up the message. Due to the bitter encounter with the enemy plane, which they shot down, they found themselves completely off course, and finally landed at the at the farm yard (Mellows College). .

A plucky five footer, Dinny-the-Barber, armed and in uniform, was one of the first to appear on the scene. He approached the plane with the words “A member of the Irish Defence Force”. A tall, uniformed officer stepped forward, stood to attention and replied “A General of the American Army”.

It was a day of great excitement in Athenry. The Generals, glad to be alive and in a safe country, laughingly shouted “catch”, as they hurled all kinds of goodies to the people – chocolate, grapes, bananas and oranges – all special luxuries in the war years. Dinny, who was married to Mary Cunniffe, died recently in England.

July 27, 1988 was a memorable day for Athenry. Charlie King, a member of one of the oldest parish families won the Galway Plate with his horse ‘A-Ford-A-King’. Charlie made racing history by being the first Athenry man ever to win this distinction. Well done, Charlie!

From the book – “Athenry, History from 1780, Folklore and Recollections” by Aggie Qualter, March 1989

Click on the Author’s name, below, to find more articles from Aggie Qualter’s book.

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About this record

Written by Aggie Qualter

Published here 12 May 2022 and originally published March 1989

Page 0064 of the Athenry History archive.

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