The Howth & Kilcoole Gunrunning 1914 - The Limerick Connection:
Sir Thomas Myles
Desmond Hall, Newcastle West, County Limerick
7:30pm Thursday 14 August 2014
The Limerick people aboard the three gun-running yachts in 1914 came from
very diverse social backgrounds:
- Conor O Brien, his sister Kitty O Brien and their second cousin Mary
Spring-Rice were all greatgrandchildren of Thomas Spring-Rice, 1st Baron
Monteagle (1790-1866), whose statue stands in the People's Park, Pery
- They were aristocrats, Anglo-Irish, English-born, children of absentee
landlords with large Limerick estates, members of the Church of Ireland
- See 1881 Spring-Rice census return
and 1881 O Brien census return
- The O Brien siblings were also grandsons of a revered Irish nationalist
leader, William Smith O'Brien
- Tom Fitzsimons of Foynes Island was from the Catholic farming class
- See 1901
- George Cahill of Barracks Cross, Corgrig was from the Catholic labouring
- See 1901
- Thomas Myles was from the commercial and professional middle class of
- See 1901
Sir Thomas Myles (1857-1937)
Childhood in Limerick
- The future Sir Thomas Myles was the third of eleven children born to John
Myles (c1808-1871) and his second wife, Prudence Bradshaw (1833-1904)
- He was born, probably over the shop in Catherine Street, on 20 April 1857 and
baptised in St. Michael's Church on 27 May following.
- The second child Anne Bradshaw Myles probably died in infancy as a
younger sister born in 1864 was called Anna.
- The family residence later moved to 13 Upper Mallow Street.
- Tom Myles and his older brother Jack, although separated by more than two
years in age, were both admitted to Trinity College Dublin on the same
date, 22 January 1873, aged 17 and 15 respectively.
- See Index
to Trinity College Dublin student admission register, 1868-1879 and Trinity matriculation
register, 1847-1876, Entrance books 1847-1876
- Both brothers had previously been educated in Limerick by Rev. James John
Hall (d.1874) the principal of the Diocesan School on Roxborough Road
(completed in 1838 to a design by James Pain, but no longer extant)
- Both Myles brothers shared sporting skills and interests (rowing,
sailing, swimming, rugby, boxing, shot put, etc.)
The early Home Rule movement
- Their College tutor was Dr. George Ferdinand Shaw (1821-99), an early
- A generation earlier (1848), Shaw was present in the rooms of John
Kells Ingram (1823-1907) in House 30 in Trinity on the night when the
latter wrote The Memory of the Dead, better known as Who fears to
speak of '98
- Shaw was briefly the first editor of The Irish
Times in 1859
- Shaw's recent tutees had included Bram Stoker (1847-1912)
- G. F. Shaw should not be confused with his apparently unrelated
contemporary George Carr Shaw (1814-85), father of George Bernard Shaw
- Not surprisingly, they were confused in their lifetimes, by the local
- The two unrelated families got to meet each other as the laundry company
mixed up the delivery so the Shaws of Synge Street got the sheets of the
Shaws of Harrington Street
- The Home
Government Association was launched by Isaac Butt on 1 September
- Besides Butt, the principal persons involved in the Home Government
Association, all of them Irish Protestants, were Shaw, soon to be tutor to
the Myles brothers; Major
Laurence Knox, founder of The Irish Times and E. R. King Harman,
from a leading landlord family.
- By November 1873, there had been behind-the-scenes contacts between
Fenian sympathisers, the Catholic Church and the Home Government
- Following a meeting called for by Dr. Keane, the Catholic bishop of
Cloyne, and held in Dublin, there emerged a new body to replace the old
Home Government Association.
- This new organisation, which enjoyed Fenian and Catholic support, was the
Home Rule League
Myles the Surgeon
- Thomas's medical degrees were conferred in 1880 and 1881
- He was resident surgeon in Dr. Steevens's Hospital from 1881 to 1884; and
later associated with Jervis Street and Richmond hospitals
- On Saturday, 6 May 1882, Dr. Thomas Myles, just turned 25 years of age,
was summoned from Dr. Steevens's Hospital to the Phoenix Park to attend to
the newly-sworn in Chief Secretary for Ireland, Lord Frederick Cavendish,
and his Permanent Undersecretary, Thomas Henry Burke, who had been stabbed
in broad daylight by the Invincibles.
- Myles was one of six doctors who performed the post mortems - in the
present U.S. Ambassador's Residence.
- A new organisation, the Irish Protestant Home Rule Association,
was founded on 21 May 1886, in the Castle Restaurant in Belfast's Donegall
- On 23 June 1886, Dr. Myles was involved in the noisy inaugural meeting of
the Dublin branch of the Irish Protestant Home Rule Association, held in
the Central Hall, Westmoreland street.
- On 21 April 1888, at St. Peter's Church in Dublin, he married Frances
Elizabeth (Fanny) Ayres, daughter of a deceased English-born clergyman and
landowner, Rev. George Ayres (1825-1881) [Certificate].
- Lady Myles's greatgrandmothers included a Sarah Hely of King's County mentioned
in the Marriage Licence Bonds of the Diocese of Killaloe for 1777
- Barack Obama's GGGGGGgrandmothers included a Sarah Hely of King's County
in the Marriage Licence Bonds of the Diocese of Killaloe for 1761
- Myles's first recorded private Dublin residence was 30
- M.D. conferred later in 1888
- Professor of Pathology, RCSI, 1889-97
The United Irish League (U.I.L.)
O'Brien launched the nationalist United Irish
League on 23 January1898
- Its motto was "The Land for the People"
- Its campaigns resulted in the Wyndham land act of 1903
- Thomas Myles was clearly a supporter or a member
- In 1899, Dr. Thomas Myles ran for the office of President of the Royal
College of Surgeons in Ireland for the three-year term, 1900-1902.
- Myles took a libel action and obtained an injunction against his fellow
candidate and Merrion Square neighbour Henry
Fitz-Gibbon who claimed that Myles's association with the U.I.L. would
'associate the college with the promoters of anarchy and discord.'
- President of R.C.S.I.
- Honorary Freeman of the City of Limerick in 1900, during the three-year
Mayoralty of John Daly, on account of his medical achievements
- The others so honoured under Daly were Thomas J. Clarke (soon to marry
Daly's niece), James F. Egan and Maude Gonne.
- Along with Vincent Nash, the High Sheriff of Limerick, Thomas Myles was
one of two Limerick men awarded knighthoods (Kt. Bach (1902)) in King
Edward VII's coronation honours list, announced on June 26, 1902.
- The gun-running yacht, Chotah
- 48 ton, 60 ft. cutter, engine powered
- Myles's own description:
the Chotah was 60 ft. overall, straight stemmed, 14 ft.
beam. She carried relatively more canvass but in a breeze when on a
wind the side of the dining table was one moment on a level with your
nose and the next in your lap.
- sold to Captain Otway Waller
- seventy-ton ketch
- 62 tons by Thames measurement
- built to the order of Queen Victoria as a gift to Prince Henry of
Battenberg, and launched in 1874
- ran ashore at Derbyhaven, Isle of Man, June 1933
- the finest of her class afloat
- his last ship
- value at his death £ 2,725 (house in Leeson Park valued at £
- Sir Thomas Myles (owner) (b. Limerick)
- James Creed Meredith (b. Dublin)
- future Supreme Court judge in Irish Free State
- Hervey/Harvey Guy Francis Edward de Montmorency
- George Cahill (transferred from Kelpie)
- Tom Fitzsimons (transferred from Kelpie)
After the gun-running
- On the very next day, Monday 3 August 1914, Britain declared war on
- In his Bureau of Military History Witness
Statement, Seán Fitzgibbon reports that at a meeting in Dublin on that
Monday, Sir Thomas Myles said he had a leader for the Irish Volunteers (who
should take over the defence of Ireland and re-create Grattan's Parliament)
in the person of General Sir Thomas
- Kelly-Kenny spent the day sightseeing in Oxford with his nephew Fr.
Matthew Devitt S.J.
- On 11 August 1914, Kelly-Kenny got a telegram summoning him to London
to see Lord Kitchener
- On 12 August 1914, he met Kitchener and wrote in his diary:
He wants me to report on the I[rish] V[olunteer]s. A Sergt. could
to this. I declined. Correspondence shows what I think of this
political trick to throw the responsibility on me of advising, or
not, to take the I.V. into service and pay.
I believe Redmond, and possibly Carson, are associated in this. On
many grounds I immediately refused to undertake this matter. I said I
would find out what I could about them and let him know.
- On 14 August 1914, Kelly-Kenny wrote his last diary entry and on 26
December 1914 he died.
- Kelly-Kenny centenary will be marked with a day of National Heritage
Week events in his native Kilrush on Saturday 23 August next.
- Sir Thomas Myles (like his older brother Jack) joined the Royal Army
- named on a plaque listing members of the
Limerick Protestant Young Mens' Association who took part in the Great War,
1914-1918 'For King and Country'
- on duty in Dublin at Easter 1916; briefly taken prisoner according to
Witness Statement by James Clarke, who once brought Austin Stack to him for
treatment for a football injury
- did not allow any of the wounded to fall into British hands, except
- in 1917, gave medical evidence at the inquest on Thomas Ashe, according
to Witness Statement by Kevin O'Shiel
- After Matt Brady (father of Ruairí
Ó Brádaigh) was shot and wounded in Longford on April 29, 1919, he was
transferred to the Richmond Hospital, where according to Seán MacEoin's
Dr. Michael Burke and Sir Thomas Myles took care of him till the Truce,
many times locking him into presses and other places of concealment when
the place was being searched by Black and Tans and other British
- signed a memorial to the Prime Minister, published in The Times on
May 12, 1921, containing a new peace proposal
- By 1932, moved to 32
- continued to pursue his professional duties and met the demands made upon
his services until he was in his mid-seventies
- died in the Richmond Hospital, July 14, 1937
- buried at Dean's Grange with Lady
- Only the Irish Press obituary mentioned his gun-running exploits:
“No One More Nationalist”: How Sir Thomas Myles Risked His
Position For The Cause
- For probate purposes, his yacht was worth more than his home at 32 Leeson
Park; a neighbouring house (no.26) sold for €6.5 million in 2007.
On the beach at Kilcoole, a bronze plaque on a granite boulder reminds the
visitor of the events that took place there in 1914. Sir Thomas Myles is named on the
Mount Trenchard Memorial Committee
- John Cussen (Newcastlewest, chairman)
- Tom Toomey (Castletroy, secretary)
- John Curtin (Ballyhahill)
- Seán Diffley (Foynes)
- Tim Donovan (Rathkeale)
- Tom Donovan (Clarina)
- Liam Dundon (Foynes)
- Patricia Haselbeck (Lisnagry)
- Seán Liston (Knockaderry)
- Denis Nolan (Ballyhahill)
- Seán Nolan (Ballyhahill)
- Pádraig Ó Ruairc (Newcastlewest)
- Seamas O'Sullivan (Broadford)
- Paddy Waldron (Killaloe)
Provisional date for unveiling of monument: 2p.m. Sunday 21 September
Fundraising is ongoing.
Commemorative scrolls available from any committee member (suggested
donation € 20).
Booklet to be published. More information on the gun-running participants