Lt. Michael Ryan

Last Updated On June 12, 2018
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B Coy., 3rd Batt., 3rd Tipperary Brigade IRA.


Michael Ryan was born in Ballybrack, Anacarty in 1892. His parents were Tom Ryan, Ballybrack, and Johanna Broderick from Blackstairs, Hollyford. Michael was the third youngest of their nine children, five boys and four girls.

In due course he attended Mohora NS. His first teachers there were Margaret Ryan and Michael Ryan. In 1898 they were replaced by Mary Davern[1] and Patrick McCarthy.

As a member of a nationally-minded family he became involved in the struggle for Independence along with his younger brother, Thomas. His sister, Nance, the baby of the family, was an active member of Cumann na mBan and carried dispatches and smuggled guns for the IRA, including Gen. Liam Lynch. During WW1 he joined the Irish Volunteers and rose to the rank of Lieutenant of the Anacarty Coy. of which James Quinlan of Ballysheedy was Captain and consisted of eighty six Volunteers. His IRA activities became known to the RIC and he had to leave home and go on the run. He found protection and shelter at McGrath’s and Ryan’s Seanthaidg in Bonarea.

Those houses were raided by the police a number of times but Michael Ryan was well minded and he always managed to escape.

In January 1921 Capt. James Quinlan, O/C B Coy., Anacarty IRA was arrested and interned. Michael became acting Company Captain.

On a visit home he was unfortunate to be sighted by an RIC patrol, which was very likely tipped off about his presence there by a local informer. He and his brother Tom fled from home and ran downhill towards the cover of the bushes along the Bonarea River. Halfway down Ryan Corcoran’s field he was shot and mortally wounded. He was removed to hospital in Tipperary where he died the following day, 13th May 1921.

His grand-nephew discovered during a search of the RIC archives in Kew, London, that the reason he was fired on was because he was wearing the Volunteer uniform.

Hansard records the following for 01 June 1921,

Mr. Mosley[2] asked the Chief Secretary whether he will make inquiries into the circumstances under which Michael Ryan of Ballybrack, was shot dead, while crossing one of his father’s fields, by armed forces of the Crown on 12th May last?

Sir H. Greenwood,[3] ‘The Court of Inquiry in this case found that deceased was shot by members of the Crown forces in the execution of their duty, he having failed to halt when called upon to do so, and that no blame attached to any member of the Crown forces. According to the evidence, Ryan was on the road when challenged by the patrol, but he jumped a hedge and endeavoured to get away. He was called upon to halt three times before he was fired upon’.

Major M. Wood,[4] ‘How far was this man away when he was called upon to halt?’

Mr. Mosley, ‘How many men, can the right hon. Gentleman say, have been shot in Ireland for this kind of thing?’

Mr. Speaker, ‘I think notice should be given of that question.’

Michael Ryan is buried in one of the nine graves in the family plot in Kilpatrick cemetery. In autumn 2016 his grandniece, Nora Mai Ryan (P) of Ballybrack erected a beautiful headstone for many deceased members of her family and recorded his death on it. On the day of his funeral Carew’s house in Goldengarden and all its contents were blown up by crown forces.

The following month Michael’s sister, ………….., received the following letter of condolence from the HQ of Cumann na mBan,


A chara,

               The Executive desires me to convey to you on their behalf sincerest sympathy on the loss of your brother, while at the same time, they, with you feel proud that Ireland, our country, has so many sons ready and willing to give their lives for her, we cannot be beaten as long as the spirit of the people continue as it is.

                                                           Mise le meas,

                                                               (Illegible signature)

                                                                     Run. Onor.

In the early 1930’s the Lieutenant’s aged father, Tom, applied for a pension as the parent of an IRA Officer who’d died on active service. In the course of his submission he stated that his son had joined the IRA in 1917. He had joined as a Private. In 1919 he’d been appointed 2nd Lieutenant, and in 1920 he’d been appointed 1st Lt. From January until his death in May 1921 he served as Acting Company Captain. His father asserted that, “(He) was a very dutiful officer and a big loss to the IRA in the district at the time”.

His claim for recompense for the death of his son was strongly supported by Tadgh Dwyer of Grovestown, Dundrum, former Commandant of the Third Battalion. When he filled out the claim form he stated,

Deceased, who served as Company Lieutenant and also acting Coy. Captain, was on the run, and was suddenly seen by the British forces one evening near his home. In attempting to evade capture he received fatal wounds from which he died a few hours later. Family of deceased are in poor circumstances, and have suffered losses through the intervening years.

Elsewhere on the form he wrote, “As this family suffered a lot during the troubles this is a most deserving claim.”

The Third Battalion’s former Intelligence Officer, William F. Quinlan, then resident in Dublin, gave a similar reference.

There were two witnesses to the shooting, Michael Ryan (C) and his own younger brother, Patrick. The latter stated,

On that evening he called home and a raiding party of military dropped in and while trying to escape was shot. I saw him being shot.

Michael’s death Certificate stated that he died on the thirteenth of May 1921 in the Military hospital, Tipperary. Under the heading, “Certified cause of Death and Duration of Illness”, was recorded,

Loss of blood and shock.

3 hours 8 minutes.

Deceased himself to blame.

In the box headed “Informant”, it recorded, “Certificate received from Military Court of Inquiry held 13th May 1921”.

Tom Ryan’s application for a pension was rejected. However on 21 January 1935 a Gratuity of £75 (c. €99) was awarded to him.


Some years ago in 2014 the Third Tipperary Brigade Old IRA Commemoration Committee erected a fine memorial in his honour outside his birthplace in Ballybrack.



[1] She later married Michael’s brother Pat.
[2] Oswald Mosley (1896-1980) MP for Smethwick. Various political parties
[3] Sir Hamar Greenwood, last Chief Secretary for Ireland Oct. 1920-Apr1922.
[4] Sir Murdoch McKenzie Wood (1881-1949) Liberal MP for Aberdeenshire & Kincardineshire Central in 1920.