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Eoin O'Duffy

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Succeeded by
Eamon Broy

Preceded by
Michael Staines

Roman Catholicism

Crusade in Spain

Eoin O'Duffy General Eoin O39Duffy 18921944 The History of Ireland

20 October 1892 Lough Egish, Monaghan, Ireland (

Political party
Sinn Féin (1917–23) Fine Gael (1933–34) National Corporate Party (1935–37)

Irish Volunteers Irish Republican Brotherhood Irish Republican Army National Army Irish Brigade

30 November 1944, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Political parties
Sinn Féin (1917–1923), Fine Gael (1933–1934), National Corporate Party (1935–1937)

Battles and wars
Easter Rising, Irish War of Independence, Irish Civil War, Spanish Civil War

Richard Mulcahy, W T Cosgrave, Seán Mac Eoin, Michael Collins, Arthur Griffith

Eoin O'Duffy (Irish: Eoin Ó Dubhthaigh; 30 October 1892 – 30 November 1944) was an Irish political activist, soldier and police commissioner. O'Duffy was the leader of the Monaghan Brigade of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during the Irish War of Independence and in this capacity became Chief of Staff of the IRA in 1922. He was one of the Irish activists who along with Michael Collins accepted the Anglo-Irish Treaty and fought as a general in the Irish Civil War on the pro-Treaty side.


Eoin O'Duffy A look at the St Mary39s AntiCommunist Pipe Band Come Here To Me

Professionally, O'Duffy became the second Commissioner of the Garda Síochána, the police force of the new Irish Free State, after the Civic Guard Mutiny and the subsequent resignation of Michael Staines. In his political life O'Duffy had been an early member of Sinn Féin, founded by Arthur Griffith. He was elected as a Teachta Dála (TD) for his home county of Monaghan during the 1921 election. After a split in 1923 he became associated with Cumann na nGaedheal and led the organisation known as the Army Comrades Association (Blueshirts). After the merger of various pro-Treaty factions under the banner of Fine Gael, O'Duffy was the party leader for a short time.

Eoin O'Duffy httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu

An anti-communist, O'Duffy was attracted to the various authoritarian nationalist movements on the Continent. He raised the Irish Brigade to fight for Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War as an act of Catholic solidarity and was inspired by Benito Mussolini's Italy to found the National Corporate Party. He offered to Nazi Germany the prospect of raising an Irish Brigade to fight in Operation Barbarossa during World War II on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union, but this was not taken up.

Eoin O'Duffy Irish Fascist Eoin O39Duffy The Beer Barrel

Early life

Eoin O'Duffy C Mourning the Ancient

Eoin O'Duffy was born Owen O'Duffy in Lough Egish, near Castleblayney, County Monaghan. His mother died when he was 12 and he wore her ring for the rest of his life. O'Duffy did an apprenticeship as an engineer in Wexford before working as an engineer and architect in Monaghan. In 1919 he became an auctioneer. O'Duffy was a leading member of the Gaelic Athletic Association in Ulster in the 1910s. A stand in a ground in Clones, County Monaghan, is named after him.

War of Independence

Eoin O'Duffy History Ireland

In 1917, O'Duffy joined the Irish Volunteers and took an active part in the Irish War of Independence, after that organisation became the Irish Republican Army (IRA). In February 1920, he (along with Ernie O'Malley) was involved in the first capture of a Royal Irish Constabulary barracks by the IRA in Ballytrain, in his native Monaghan. He came to the attention of Michael Collins, who enrolled him in the Irish Republican Brotherhood and supported his advancement in the movement's hierarchy.

He was imprisoned several times but became director of the army in 1921. In May 1921 he was returned as a Sinn Féin TD for the Monaghan constituency to the Second Dáil. He was re-elected at the 1922 general election.

In March 1921, he was made commander of the IRA's 2nd Northern Division. Following the Truce with the British in July 1921, he was sent to Belfast. After the rioting known as Belfast's Bloody Sunday, he was given the task of liaising with the British to try to maintain the Truce and defend Catholic areas against attack.

In January of the following year he became IRA Chief of Staff, replacing Richard Mulcahy. O'Duffy was the youngest general in Europe until Francisco Franco was promoted to that rank.

Civil War General and Garda Síochána

In 1921 he supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty. He served as a general in the National Army in the ensuing Irish Civil War and was one of the brains behind the Free State's strategy of seaborne landings in Republican held areas. He took Limerick city for the Free State in July 1922, before being held up in the Battle of Killmallock south of the city. The enmities of the civil war era were to stay with O'Duffy throughout his political career.

In September 1922, Minister for Home Affairs Kevin O'Higgins was experiencing indiscipline within the recently established Garda Síochána (police) and O'Duffy was appointed commissioner. O'Duffy was a fine organiser and has been given much of the credit for the emergence of a respected, non-political and unarmed police force. He insisted on a Catholic nationalist ethos to distinguish the gardaí from their RIC predecessors.

Following a general election in 1933 Éamon de Valera dismissed O'Duffy as Garda Commissioner. In the Dáil de Valera explained the reason for his dismissal,

"he [O'Duffy] was likely to be biased in his attitude because of past political affiliations".

The true reason, however, appears to have been the new government's discovery that in 1932, O'Duffy's was one of the voices urging W. T. Cosgrave to resort to a military coup rather than to turn over power to the incoming Fianna Fáil administration. O'Duffy refused the offer of another position of equivalent rank in the public service.

Ernest Blythe said many years later that the outgoing Government had become so alarmed by O'Duffy's conduct that had they returned to power they would have acted precisely as De Valera did.

Leader of the Army Comrades Association

In July 1933 O'Duffy became leader of the Army Comrades Association, ostensibly set up to protect Cumann na nGaedheal public meetings, which had been disrupted under the slogan "No Free Speech for Traitors" by Irish Republican Army men newly confident after the elections. O'Duffy and many other conservative elements within the Irish Free State began to embrace fascist ideology, which was in vogue at that time. He immediately changed the name of this new movement to the National Guard. O'Duffy was an admirer of the Italian leader Benito Mussolini and his organisation adopted outward symbols of European fascism such as the straight-arm Roman salute and a distinctive blue uniform. It was not long before they became known as the Blueshirts.

In August 1933 a parade was planned by the Blueshirts in Dublin to commemorate Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith, both of whom had died 11 years earlier. This was a clear imitation of Mussolini's March on Rome and was widely perceived as such despite claims to the contrary. De Valera feared a similar coup d'état, and the parade was banned.

By September the Blueshirts were declared an illegal organisation. To circumvent this ban the movement once again adopted a new name, this time styling itself the League of Youth.

O'Duffy and some of his men also made an appearance at the 1934 International Fascist conference in Montreux where he argued against anti-semitism.

Fine Gael

In September 1933 Cumann na nGaedheal, the Centre Party and the Blueshirt movement merged to form Fine Gael. O'Duffy, though not a TD, became the first leader, with former President of the Executive Council, (taoiseach) W. T. Cosgrave serving as parliamentary leader. The National Guard, now rechristened the Young Ireland Association, was transformed from an illegal paramilitary group into the militant wing of a political party. However, meetings were often attacked by IRA members. O'Duffy proved a weak leader – he was a military leader rather than political, and he was temperamental. In September 1934 O'Duffy suddenly and unexpectedly resigned as leader of Fine Gael as his extreme views and poor judgement became an embarrassment to his party. He went on to form the National Corporate Party.

Spanish Civil War

The Blueshirt movement had begun to disintegrate also, so much so that by 1935 the organisation no longer existed. In June 1935 O'Duffy launched the unabashedly fascist National Corporate Party. The following year he organised an Irish Brigade to fight for Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War. Despite the declaration by the Irish Government that participation in the war was ill-advised and unsupported, 700 of O'Duffy's followers went to Spain to fight on Franco's side. Around 250 other Irishmen in Connolly Column went to fight for the Republicans' International Brigade. O'Duffy's men saw little fighting in Spain and were sent home by Franco, returning in June 1937.

Retirement and death

O'Duffy returned to Ireland from Spain in disarray. He retired from politics completely, apart from a low-level dalliance with Nazism. He is thought to have met with IRA figures and members of the German consulate in the summer of 1939. (See main article.) In the summer of 1943 O'Duffy approached the German Legation in Dublin with an offer to organise an Irish Volunteer Legion for use on the Russian Front. He explained his offer to the German ambassador as a wish to "save Europe from Bolshevism". He requested an aircraft to be sent from Germany so that he could conduct the necessary negotiations in Berlin. The offer was "not taken seriously". By this time his health had begun to seriously deteriorate and he died on 30 November 1944, aged 52. He was buried in a state funeral. Following Requiem Mass in the Pro-Cathedral he was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.


Following his return from fighting for Franco and the nationalists against the Republican forces in Spain, O'Duffy wrote a book.

  • Crusade in Spain (1938)
  • References

    Eoin O'Duffy Wikipedia

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