This time we look at how old – or young the men were at different stages of their lives and in the context of later notable national events.

Age When Arrested

Burning of Dublin Custom House 1921
The Custom House Lads were young indeed.

The youngest were both born in 1905 – Michael Lane was a month shy of his 17th birthday; and John Doran, a month beyond the same mark. The oldest by some years was George Byrne (48), born in 1872. He was one of the sixty prisoners born in the 19th century.

1899 saw the highest number of men born, followed by 1902 (fifteen) and 1898 (14), while eleven were born at the turn of the century (1900).

Their average age was just 22 years and 4 months.

Life Spans

A few did die very young in the Civil War or from natural causes. Killed in action in 1922 were Patrick Reilly (20), Jack Young (20) and Tom Kehoe (22). George Gray was 24 and Spivis Dwyer 29 when they succumbed to illness later in the 1920s.

Burning of Dublin Custom House 1921
(Missing data for one man)

At the other end of the scale, four men lived into their nineties – Peadar O’Farrell, Paddy Evers, Larry Finnegan and Anthony Flynn who reached 94. He was also the last survivor from all the men arrested at the Custom House when he died in 1992.

Burning of Dublin Custom House 1921
(Missing data for one man)

It is remarkable how many lived into their 70s, 80s and 90s when you consider the hardships and risks they endured. Almost half of the men survived beyond the age of 70. Tough men from tough times!

Another way to look at it is how long the men lived after the Custom House attack, or how many anniversaries they were around for.

Burning of Dublin Custom House 1921
(Missing data for one man)

Been There, Saw That

Just a few of the national milestones a diminishing number of the Custom House Fire Brigade lived through:

  • Military Pensions in 1924 (excluding anti-Treaty forces)
  • Opening of the Shannon Hydroelectric Scheme on July 22, 1929 – one of the largest engineering projects of its day
  • A first of many Fianna Fáil governments in 1932 and a wider military pension scheme two years later
  • Foundation of the Turf Development Board (now Bord na Móna)
  • The Rural Electrification Act, 1936
  • A new Irish Constitution in 1937 and the handover of the Treaty Ports the following year
  • The Emergency (World War II), 1939-1945, during which some joined the Irish Defence Forces
  • Eighty four of them saw the official name of the state change from Free State to Republic (18 April 1949)
  • Ireland’s admission to the United Nations in 1955
  • The Army’s first major UN Peacekeeping mission to the Belgian Congo in 1960
  • Fifty six were still alive to watch the commemoration of the Easter Rising Golden Jubilee in 1966
  • The Northern Troubles and emergence of new IRA factions
  • Decimalisation of Irish currency on 15 February 1971
  • Ireland’s entry to the EEC (now EU) happened on 1 January 1973, in the lifetimes of 38 of them.
  • Link between the Irish pound (punt) and sterling broken, 1978.

Obviously that timeline stemmed from their participation in the Irish Revolution and would not have occurred without their efforts.

Many of them also survived to watch the decline of the British Empire (and others) as national independence movements overseas followed their example from the Tan War.

Des White

Missing data: The only man’s whose death has not been traced is Peter Doyle, last known address (in 1921) 11 Williams Place, North Wall, Dublin City. Can any Kind Reader help?