Daniel Lyons took part in the Burning with F Coy, 2nd Battalion. He had served throughout the War of Independence, taking part in the Bloody Sunday assassinations. Lyons was obviously well-regarded as he was selected as acting Captain of F Coy after his O/C, Sean Ward was arrested on 25 May.
Lyons went on to support the Treaty and became a Staff Captain with the Chemicals Branch of GHQ at Beggars Bush (although he never formally attested).
On 25 June 1922, Dan along with three comrades – Thomas Kearns, John Foley and John Ryan – was engaged in the hazardous task of preparing incendiary devices in a chemicals shed within the Barracks compound. An explosion blew out the roof and windows and started a fire which was said to have been extinguished within 15 minutes.
The four soldiers in the shed were injured, Dan Lyons most severely. He suffered deep burns to his head and upper torso and was rushed in a critical condition to St. Vincent’s Hospital where he died two days later on 27 June. The eve of the attack on the Four Courts.
Daniel Paul Lyons was born on 30 August 1900 at 17 St. James’s Avenue, off Clonliffe Road, Dublin city to John (a Van Man) and Margaret (née Carthy). Amazingly his mother had, just the day before Dan arrived, been helping at the birth of a son to a neighbour four doors away. Hardy women, in tough times. Dan was the youngest of seven girls and boys. The family later moved to Charleville Avenue on the North Strand but lost their father in 1910. Twelve years later Dan was still living there with his widowed mother and some siblings.
The Evening Herald of 5 July 1922 reported on the funeral of Staff Captain Daniel Lyons to Glasnevin Cemetery. His was one of four National Army burials there that day, the others being Col. Comdt. Thomas A. Mandeville, Staff Capt. Michael Vaughan and Sgt. Major David Bain (whose surname usually appears as Behan) killed during the Battle for Dublin. The latter three coffins were placed in the then-newly acquired area which now forms the Army Plot beside the grave of Michael Collins.
Dan Lyons was interred in the Republican Plot, perhaps the last National Army man to be so honoured. The onset of the Civil War would act as a divide for many former comrades after death. Beginning from its outbreak that Plot was almost exclusively used for anti-Treaty men and women from the pre-Truce era.
On 5 July 1922 there was a large attendance of the public as well as relatives and comrades in Glasnevin. GHQ’s General O’Duffy was represented by Comdt. Coughlan and Capt. Joe Gilhooly was also there with a contingent from Beggars Bush in an armoured lorry. The four coffins were draped with the Tricolour and three volleys were fired and the Last Post sounded over the graves. The chief mourners for Daniel were his mother Margaret, brothers Michael and John and sisters Mrs. Grehan and Mrs. Monahan.
There is a Miltary Pensions Dependants file online – ref. DP23657 – for anyone interested in further reading.
Dan Lyons is one Custom House Man known to have died before the Civil War. Perhaps it is fitting this veteran of the Burning did not live to see that disastrous conflict. But he would, sadly, not be the last of them to meet his end before it was over.
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