Eamon Sweeney (firstname.lastname@example.org) @ The Derry Journal writes:
A series currently being run each Friday in the ‘Derry Journal’ penned in 1953 by former Irish Volunteer Liam A Brady charting Derry’s part in the struggle for Irish independence from 1913-1923 has prompted the relatives of one man from the city to tell the tale of how he played a full role in the events of that turbulent period.
In the documents retrieved from Dublin by his family many years later the depth of the role that he played both in Derry City and in Co Donegal in the ‘troubled times’ are revealed. In order to make a claim for a pension from Dublin it was necessary for former Volunteers to submit a statement to the Board that approved or denied this financial allowance.
|Dan Black and his wife pictured on a trip to Dublin for the commemoration of the 1916 Rising.|
The text of the letter runs as follows.
I took active part in the week’s fighting in the city against the Imperial Forces in June, 1920. I done picket duty on Protestant property in July, 1920 and street patrols for the preventing of looting, raiding for stolen property, guarding prisoners, parades, drilling and company routine work. I acted as a armed guard on Republic Courts at I.R.A headquarters.
|Members of the Derry Brigade of the IRA on procession during De Valera's visit.|
On April 1 I took part in an attack on the Lecky Road Barracks occupied by the RIC. A policeman was killed, and one died from his wounds. On April 12 I took part in an armed raid on the Great Northern Railway Goods Depot. One Sergeant of the B Specials was shot.
|Republicans on board a lorry which was part of the cavalcade that greeted De Valera on his arrival in Derry.|
It was while on this work that I was captured in the early hours of the morning by the National Forces. I escaped.
I declared this to be a truthful statement to the best of my knowledge.
Through this statement it becomes obvious that Dan Black was a member of the Anti-Treaty forces during the Civil War period. The simple declaration of the his role was not enough to ensure that he would be awarded a pension. His claims would first have to be counter-signed by witnesses before even begin considered by the Military Service Pensions Board.
|Crowds begin to gather along the Lone Moor Road to await the arrival of Eamon de Valera when he paid a visit to Derry in 1951.|
This period of service was verified by his officer in command in the city at the time, well-known Republican figure, Patrick Shiels. Two other officers also verified that Dan Black had taken part in the defence of Derry during the pogrom of 1920 at St Columb’s College when it was attacked. Those other I.R.A. men were Henry Moore who became an officer in the Free State Army and John Mullan, listed as being from Argyle Street in Derry. This section of the form also verifies Mr Black’s declaration of having participated in the attack on Lecky Road Barracks as well as having ambushed police at the city’s General Post Office.
Activities in Co Donegal
As stated in his declaration Dan Black also operated within the I.R.A. in Co Donegal and in this section of the pension form it is verified by an I.R.A. man in the area at the time, Sean Hegarty, that he was trusted to an extent that saw him sent to Birr, now County Offaly, and bring weapons back to Donegal.
Other referee’s to Dan Black’s activities in Donegal were Captain John Mullan of the Free State Army and Captain William Doherty of Buncrana. Officer in command in this area of Donegal is listed as S Lehane who also said that the Derry man took part in all engagements against Free State troops in Co Donegal.
Men who also backed up Dan Black’s claims were high-ranking Derry republican John Fox as well as Peadar O’Donnell and a John O’Neill from Coalisland in County Tyrone.
Dan Black himself wrote: “We ambushed the police force in Clady, Co Tyrone and I was in charge of operations. Peadar O’Donnell came to my rescue with 100 men.
“I was appointed by S Lehane to the rank of captain in 1922 and I was a captain until the end of hostilities. I was not in the Free State Army.”
Notably, Dan Black’s witness statements on his pension forms are signed off by Patrick Maxwell the notable solicitor and abstentionist nationalist MP for Derry at Stormont in that era.
Dan Black passed away in 1961 at the age of 62 whilst at the family’s holiday home at Quigley’s Point in Donegal. He is buried in Derry City Cemetery.
|Dan Black pictured at the back on the left on a trip to Dublin with fellow IRA veterans. The ex Volunteers can be seen wearing their medals from the War of Independence.|
|A picture of the Derry IRA training in a field believed to be behind were the Creggan Estate is now around 1920. Dan Black is pictured kneeling sixth from the right pointing his rifle.|