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Joe McKelvey (17 June 1898 – 8 December 1922) was an Irish Republican Army officer who was executed during the Irish Civil War. He participated in the anti-Treaty IRA's repudiation of the authority of the Dáil
Dáil
(civil government of the Irish Republic
Irish Republic
declared in 1919) in March 1922 and was elected to the IRA Army Executive. In April 1922 he helped command the occupation of the Four Courts
Four Courts
in defiance of the new Irish Free State. This action helped to spark the civil war, between pro- and anti-Treaty factions. McKelvey was among the most hardline of the anti-Treaty republicans and briefly, in June 1922, became IRA Chief of Staff.

Contents

1 Background 2 War of Independence 3 Civil War 4 Execution 5 See also 6 References 7 External links

Background[edit] McKelvey was born in Stewartstown, County Tyrone, the only son of Patrick McKelvey, a Royal Irish Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary
constable,[1] and Rose O’Neill, a post office employee.[2] His father would later be promoted to RIC sergeant. During World War I, he enlisted in the special reserve of the British Army and, in 1917, was posted to the Northumberland Fusiliers. He died in 1919 in Belfast, due to a perforation of his stomach, at the age of 57.[3][4][5] Joe McKelvey had a keen interest in the Gaelic Athletic Association and the Irish language.[citation needed] He studied as an accountant and gained some of the qualifications necessary for this profession, but never fully qualified. He worked for a time at the Income Tax Office on Queen's Square in Belfast
Belfast
and later found work in Belfast's engineering industry with Mackies on the Springfield road. He joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood
Irish Republican Brotherhood
and the Irish Volunteers, which after 1919, became known as the Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
(IRA). He is a founder member of the O'Donovan Rossa Club, Belfast
Belfast
– founded in 1916 on the Falls Road. Each year the club honour him with a juvenile hurling blitz, an invitational competition which is participated in by clubs throughout Ireland. War of Independence[edit] McKelvey participated in the Irish War of Independence
Irish War of Independence
1919–1921 against the British, in which he commanded the IRA's Belfast
Belfast
Brigade. In April 1920, he and other Volunteers burned the Income Tax
Income Tax
office in Belfast
Belfast
where he had previously worked. In July 1920, during a wave of violence in the wake of the IRA assassination of a northern Police inspector (Gerard Smyth) in Cork, McKelvey was expelled from his job by loyalist intimidation. Roughly 7,000 other Catholics and left wing Protestant political activists also lost their jobs in this manner at the time. Many of the unemployed and vengeful Catholics were later recruited into the IRA, McKelvey later wrote to the IRA leadership that 75% of his volunteers were unemployed.[6] On 22 August 1920, Joe McKelvey helped to organise the killing of RIC Detective Oswald Swanzy in Lisburn. The killing itself was carried out by IRA men from Cork, but McKelvey arranged a taxi to carry the assassins to and from the scene and disposed of their weapons. In reprisal for this shooting, 300 Catholic homes in Lisburn
Lisburn
were burned out.[7] McKelvey was forced to lie low in Dublin
Dublin
for some time after these events. In March 1921, the IRA was re-organised by its leadership in Dublin into Divisions and McKelvey was appointed commander of the Third Northern Division, responsible for Belfast
Belfast
and the surrounding area. He was criticised by some of the younger, more radical Volunteers in the IRA Belfast
Belfast
Brigade, led by Roger McCorley for being reluctant to sanction the killing of Police and British Army personnel in Belfast. McKelvey feared (and was proved correct) that such actions would provoke retaliatory attacks on the Catholic and Irish nationalist community by loyalists. Nevertheless, he was unable to control some of his younger volunteers, who formed an "active service unit" on their own initiative and killed Police and soldiers on a regular basis. When such attacks occurred, loyalists, generally supported by the Ulster Special
Special
Constabulary, attacked Catholic areas in reprisal. The IRA was then forced to try to defend Catholic areas and McKelvey feared that the organisation was being drawn into sectarian conflict as opposed to what he saw as the "real" struggle for Irish independence. In May 1921, McKelvey's command suffered a severe setback, when fifty of his best men were sent to County Cavan
County Cavan
to train and link up with the IRA units there, only to be surrounded and captured by the British Army on Lappanduff hill on 9 May. In most of Ireland, hostilities were ended with a truce declared on 11 July 1921. However, in the north and particularly in Belfast, violence intensified over the following year. McKelvey wrote to IRA GHQ at this time that his command was very short of both arms and money. In March 1922, many of his papers, detailing the names and units of the roughly 1000 IRA members in Belfast
Belfast
were captured by the B-Specials
B-Specials
Police in a raid on St Mary's Hall in Belfast. Civil War[edit] McKelvey was alone among the leadership of the Belfast
Belfast
IRA in going against the acceptance of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Most of his comrades supported Michael Collins' assurances that, although the Treaty accepted the partition of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
from the rest of the country, this was only a temporary concession which would be dealt with later. McKelvey did not accept this. As a result, he left his command as head of the IRA Third Northern Division and joined the Anti-Treaty IRA
Anti-Treaty IRA
in Dublin. McKelvey participated in the Anti-Treaty IRA's repudiation of the authority of the Dáil
Dáil
(civil government of the Irish Republic declared in 1919) in March 1922 and was elected to the IRA Army Executive. In April 1922 he helped command the occupation of the Four Courts in defiance of the new Irish Free State. This action helped to spark the Irish Civil War, between pro and anti Treaty factions. McKelvey was among the most hardline of the anti-Treaty republicans and briefly, in June 1922, became IRA Chief of Staff, replacing Liam Lynch. On 28 June 1922, the new Irish Free State
Irish Free State
government shelled the Four Courts to assert its authority over the militants defending it. The Republicans in the Four Courts
Four Courts
surrendered after two days of fighting and McKelvey was captured. He was held for the following five months in Mountjoy Prison
Mountjoy Prison
in Dublin. Execution[edit] On 8 December 1922, Joe McKelvey was executed by firing squad along with three other Anti-Treaty militants, Rory O'Connor, Liam Mellows and Richard Barrett. The executions had been ordered in reprisal for the Anti-Treaty IRA's murder of Sean Hales, a Pro-Treaty member of the Third Dáil. On the morning of his execution, he wrote this letter to Mrs Florrie Sullivan (nee O'Meara) of Lower Mount Street' Dublin: Letter written by McKelvey to Mrs Sullivan, 8 December 1922. See also[edit]

Executions during the Irish Civil War,

References[edit]

^ "General Registrar's Office". IrishGenealogy.ie. Retrieved 8 December 2016.  ^ "National Archives: Census of Ireland 1911". www.census.nationalarchives.ie. Retrieved 2016-12-08.  ^ Simpson, Mark (2014-07-30). "Milltown: Connection between British soldier and IRA man discovered". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-12-08.  ^ "Milltown brought to life". The Irish News. Retrieved 2016-12-08.  ^ Manchester, Reading Room. "Casualty Details". www.cwgc.org. Retrieved 2016-12-08.  ^ Robert Lynch, the Northern IRA and the early years of Partition, page 28 and 62 ^ Lynch the Northern IRA, page 34

External links[edit]

Irish Independent, 17 February 2002, The truth behind the murder of Sean Hales.

v t e

Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
(1919–1922)

General

Genealogy Irish Volunteers Irish Citizen Army Easter Rising Sinn Féin Declaration of Independence Irish Republic Dáil
Dáil
Éireann (First Dáil
Dáil
& Second Dáil) Irish Bulletin Irish War of Independence Flying column Government of Ireland Act 1920 British Partition ( Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
& Southern Ireland) Anglo-Irish Treaty Irish Civil War Irish Free State

Organisation

Brigades of the Irish Republican Army Irish Republican Police The Squad

Actions

Soloheadbeg ambush Rescue at Knocklong Listowel mutiny Rineen ambush Tooreen ambush Battle of Ballinalee Dublin
Dublin
Bloody Sunday Kilmichael ambush Clonfin ambush Dromkeen ambush Upton train ambush Clonmult ambush Coolavokig ambush Sheemore ambush Clonbanin ambush Selton Hill ambush Burgery ambush Crossbarry ambush Headford ambush Scramoge ambush Kilmeena ambush Custom House burning Carrowkennedy ambush Coolacrease killings Belfast
Belfast
Bloody Sunday

Chiefs of Staff

Cathal Brugha
Cathal Brugha
(1917–19) Richard Mulcahy
Richard Mulcahy
(1919–22) Eoin O'Duffy
Eoin O'Duffy
(1922)

Personalities

Michael Collins JJ "Ginger" O'Connell Terence MacSwiney Emmet Dalton Dick McKee Paddy Daly Piaras Béaslaí Robert Erskine Childers Liam Mellows Joe McKelvey Frank Aiken Gearóid O'Sullivan Tom Maguire Seán Lemass Seán Mac Mahon Stephen Behan Andrew Cooney Seán Treacy Dan Breen Seán Hogan Séamus Robinson Tom Barry Seán Mac Eoin Charlie Hurley Seán O'Hegarty Seán Moylan Tom McEllistrim George Oliver Plunkett George Lennon Michael Kilroy Ernie O'Malley Frank Aiken Moss Twomey Tom Hales Sean Hales Peadar O'Donnell Liam Tobin Joseph McGrath Richard Barrett Louis Darcy

Associates

Irish Republican Brotherhood Cumann na mBan Fianna Éireann Clan na Gael Irish Self-Determination League National Association of Old IRA 1916–1921 Club

Derivatives

National Army Anti-Treaty Irish Republican Army

v t e

Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
(1922–69)

General

Genealogy Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
(1917–22) British Partition ( Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
& Southern Ireland) Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
(in relation to the IRA) Irish Civil War
Irish Civil War
(Timeline & Executions) Munster Republic Comhairle na dTeachtaí Irish republican legitimism Abstentionism Collaboration with the Abwehr The Emergency Plan Kathleen Haughey arms crisis Officials-Provisionals split

Organisation

IRA Army Council IRA Northern Command

Attacks

Battle of Dublin Battle of Kilmallock Anti-Treaty Guerilla Campaign Christmas Raid Sabotage Campaign Northern Campaign Border Campaign

Chiefs of Staff

Liam Lynch (1922) Joe McKelvey (1922) Liam Lynch (1922–23) Frank Aiken
Frank Aiken
(1923–25) Andrew Cooney (1925–26) Moss Twomey (1926–36) Seán MacBride
Seán MacBride
(1936) Tom Barry (1936–37) Mick Fitzpatrick (1937-38) Seán Russell
Seán Russell
(1938-40) Stephen Hayes (1940–41) Pearse Kelly (1941) Seán Harrington (1941–42) Seán McCool (1942) Eoin McNamee (1942) Hugh McAteer (1942) Charlie Kerins (1942–44) Harry White (1944–45) Patrick Fleming (1945–47) Willie McGuinness (1947–48) Tony Magan (1948-57) Richard Burke (1957) Tony Magan (1957) Seán Cronin (1957–58) John Joe McGirl (1958) Ruairí Ó Brádaigh
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh
(1958-59) Seán Cronin (1959–60) Ruairí Ó Brádaigh
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh
(1960-62) Cathal Goulding (1962–69)

Personalities

Cathal Brugha Liam Mellows Robert Erskine Childers Michael Carolan Richard Barrett Hugh Corvin Ernie O'Malley Tom Maguire Paddy McLogan Seamus O'Donovan Frank Ryan Máirtín Ó Cadhain Brendan Behan Dominic Behan Tomás Ó Dubhghaill Seán South Fergal O'Hanlon Manus Canning Seán Mac Stíofáin Joe Cahill Joe McCann Liam Kelly Tom Hales Peadar O'Donnell Éamonn O'Doherty Billy McKee

Associates

Cumann na mBan Fianna Éireann Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
(1922–26 & 1938–69) Clan na Gael National Graves Association Comhairle na Poblachta (1929–31) Saor Éire (1931) Cumann Poblachta na hÉireann (1936–37) Córas na Poblachta Connolly Association (Communist Party of Great Britain) Wolfe Tone Societies Clann na hÉireann

Derivatives

Republican Congress Saor Uladh Provisional Irish Republican Army Official Iri

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