An Intelligence Officer with Dublin Brigade, Patrick McGlynn’s severe wound at the Burning went unreported in the press or IRA accounts afterwards. The unfortunate man would have his foot amputated in 1922. He had a major struggle to find a job owing to his disability. Patrick eventually secured work, got married and had a large family, but died in his early forties when his seven children were still young.

Origin and Background

Patrick was originally from Cullyfad, Killoe, Co Longford. He was born on 14 April 1899, second eldest of seven, to a Blacksmith named James McGlynn and his wife Kate Byrne, a native of Oghil, Monasterevin, Co. Kildare.

Burning of Dublin Custom House 1921
Where Patrick’s home place is located

He grew up in the same part of the county as the more famous Longford IRA man Sean MacEoin, ‘The Blacksmith of Ballinalee’. Like MacEoin, Patrick followed his father into the Farrier trade and also joined the North Longford Brigade Volunteers in 1917. He was with B Coy, 1st Battalion. McGlynn carried out election guard duties locally in 1918 before moving to Dublin for work as a Fitter and Constructional Engineer with Brooks Thomas & Co. Ltd.

With Dublin Brigade

Patrick stuck with the Volunteers, officially transferring to F Coy, 2nd Battalion, Dublin Brigade in early 1920 (the paperwork was delayed). He took part in armed street patrols and raids for arms in the North Strand and Fairview districts, while living at 10 Reginald Square, off Gray Street in the Meath Street area of the south inner city. His O.C. Comdt. P. McSweeney appointed him to Intelligence work and, in January 1921, his then Captain, Sean Ward, made him Company Intelligence Officer which he claimed involved full-time duties.

A Life-Changing Event

McGlynn took part in the Custom House attack on 25 May 1921. His O.C. Capt. Sean Ward said himself and Patrick were attempting to escape when both were struck by bullets fired by an Auxiliary. McGlynn was shot through the right ankle and foot. Ward was also incapacitated and neither man was able to get away. This is said to have happened at 1.45 pm. It is not fully clear where the shootings took place, but it was likely in the building or its very close vicinity.

Burning of Dublin Custom House 1921
Arrest report (

In any event, both men were arrested by the Auxiliaries who claimed the pair were in possession of revolvers.

Severely Wounded

Patrick McGlynn later stated he was viciously struck on the head and beaten by his captors. He and Ward were eventually brought by ambulance to King George V military hospital where they were detained under guard. In August, Sean Ward was discharged and sent to Mountjoy Prison.

But Patrick’s case was more serious, necessitating multiple surgeries – five on his foot and two for his head wound. Finally, he was released in the January 1922 Amnesty and, after six days at home, was admitted to the civilian Mater Hospital where he had a number of further surgeries.

Amputation and Aftermath

However, the ankle was found to be so severely damaged that amputation of the foot was the only recourse available to Surgeon Charles McAuley, an active IRA supporter. Patrick spent a further four months in hospital recovering. He was then moved to Marlborough Hall in Glasnevin which incorporated a Convalescent Home for Old IRA and National Army men suffering from wounds or illness, where 1916 veteran Jennifer Wyse Power was Matron. McGlynn is recorded there in the Army Census of November 1922, described as an “Old Volunteer”. A fellow inmate for a time was Tom Flood, another Custom House Man, wounded in the Civil War.

Burning of Dublin Custom House 1921
Patrick’s listing is marked. The first patient on the page was Thomas ‘Sweeney’ Newell, shot by the notorious Eugene Igoe in January 1921 (see here)

Patrick McGynn was supplied with a state-funded prosthesis (replaced on an ongoing basis) but was unable to resume his old Blacksmith and Fitter trade. He was also unfit for heavy physical work.

Brief Army Service

In January 1923 he was taken on under a six-month contract as a Private on clerical duties with the Mechanical Transport Corps of the National Army. Having served in Portobello Barracks and Gormanston Camp, Co Meath, he was discharged “Time-Expired” in July – conduct and character good. He said he was advised by Ms Wyse Power and Adjutant-General Gearóid O’Sullivan to join the army to establish his rank as an Officer, but that never happened.

The Real Struggles Begin

It is obvious that Patrick had gone through hard times with his wounds and suffered much physically. But that paled in comparison with what he had to face afterwards. For a time in 1924 he held a clerical position in a Dept. of Industry and Commerce office but had to leave on medical advice. He was then out of work for 2 years, although he was receiving £100 per year as a wound pension under compensation legislation enacted in 1923. An Army medical examination discovered he had lung damage and other ailments; was unable for any physical exertion; and even office work was unsuitable. They assessed his disability at 50% in respect of the loss of his foot. However, in their opinion his poor general health was not due to his military service.

The System Cared Little

In 1928 he applied for a military pension under the 1924 Act. Despite being credited with over 3 years service, his annual pension was assessed at a paltry £15-11-6. He continued to face discrimination when seeking employment, experiencing rejections and, in one case, dismissal because of his disability. During the 1920s he moved on and off back to Cullyfad in Co. Longford on medical advice as his general health was suffering badly.

Patrick McGlynn had extensive correspondence with the military pensions board and others in authority and made several appeals for assistance or a chance for a government job due to his difficult financial circumstances. In fact there are no fewer than 9 files relating to him and his widow on the Military Archives site. They contain examples of the bureaucracy, delays and penny-pinching policies of the administration in dealing with wounded Irish soldiers. McGlynn’s experiences – following his service and sacrifice of a body part for the state – make for sad reading. But his case is, unfortunately, not unique.

Personal Life

For Patrick, 24 June 1925 at least must have been a happy day. In St Catherine’s Church, Meath Street he married Dubliner Mary Coffey, a Shop Assistant who lived in the same building as him on Reginald Square.

Burning of Dublin Custom House 1921
The church where Patrick and Mary married.
In 2012 it was severely damaged by arson but has since been restored.

The McGlynns went on to raise a family of seven, just like Patrick’s parents. He continued to take temporary jobs despite his health problems and eventually got a position in the South Dublin Union’s Pelletstown facility. He worked as a Boilerman (Ward Master) which must have further affected his health.

At either end of the 1930s Patrick had lost his mother Kate and father James who both passed away at home in Cullyfad.

In 1939, Patrick attended a reunion of surviving members of F Coy, 2nd Battalion. He is shown in this photo taken on the occasion at Marino Casino.

Burning of Dublin Custom House 1921
Patrick McGlynn is second from right in the back row. Several other Custom House Men are also included.
Burning of Dublin Custom House 1921
Close-up of Patrick from the group photo

The family had moved to 49 Bangor Road in Crumlin by that stage. But in 1942, Patrick’s health took a severe turn for the worst. He spent five weeks in the Mater Hospital following which he was discharged as incurable into the care of local doctors. Patrick McGlynn passed away at home on 28 February 1943 aged just 43. He was buried in Glasnevin, plot EM78, St Patrick’s Section.

Burning of Dublin Custom House 1921
Patrick’s family announcement in the Irish Press.

A Sad Legacy

Patrick’s widow Mary was left alone to raise their seven children. It must have been a very hard struggle for the young woman of 41. For many years she was without state support apart from the statutory widow’s pension and children’s allowances (introduced in 1944 for a third child and subsequent siblings). She had to avail of a job in the Irish Hospital’s Trust (Sweepstakes) offices to help rear her children.

In 1953, false hopes were raised by the latest Army Pensions legislation. Mrs. McGlynn applied but her claim was turned down. Her late husband’s death had not occurred within 4 years of his injury.

There was no provision for payments to Old IRA dependents until 1971. The following year, Mary McGlynn was finally awarded a military widow’s pension. She retired from the Sweepstakes shortly afterwards and received a small pension from them as well.

Mrs McGlynn went to reside in Terenure and lived to the age of 87. She passed away in 1990 and was buried beside the husband she had outlived by forty-three years.

Burning of Dublin Custom House 1921
The McGlynn Family Plot

Mary was survived by her seven children – daughters Mary, Clare (RIP), Kathleen (RIP), Pauline (RIP), Anne and Christine (three of whom became nuns) and only son, Fergus (who is a priest in Dublin). Fr. Fergus was a year-old baby when his Dad died. He recalls attending, with his mother, the unveiling of the Custom House Memorial on 20 May 1956 when he was in his early teens. The family also has a photo of their father while he was convalescing in Marlborough Hall in 1922.

Patrick McGlynn’s name is not on the memorial with those of the men who died on 25 May 1921. But it can be argued he ultimately became a further fatality of the Burning, twenty-one years after the event. Hopefully it is some consolation to his family that his name is on the list of men and women of 2nd Battalion contained in the time capsule embedded in the memorial’s plinth.

It is appropriate we remember his life and service to Ireland 80 years on from his early passing. And offer our condolences to the McGlynns on the recent death of Sr. Kathleen O.P.

Des White