Letter from Kevin O’Higgins to his wife Brigid O’Higgins (née Cole)

Kevin O’Higgins (1892–1927) was a leading proponent of the pro-Treaty position. He strongly supported Michael Collins and was heavily critical of Eamon de Valera during the civil war of 1922–23. In January 1922 he became minister for economic affairs in Arthur Griffith's first Free State government and he held a similar position in the provisional government chaired by Michael Collins. In the 1922 general election he was again returned for his Laois-Offaly constituency, and after the deaths of both Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins in August, he became minister for home  affairs and vice-president of the executive council.

O’Higgins writes the letter below from City Hall to his wife, Brigid O’Higgins (née Cole), on 27 June 1922. He refers to the Free State government’s move against the anti-Treaty occupied Four Courts. He makes reference to the arrest of J.J. ‘Ginger’ O'Connell (a general in the new National Army) by anti-Treaty forces, which acted as catalsyt to this ‘inevitible’ action. O’Higgins’ explains that O’Connell’s arrest was carried out in retaliation for the Free State government’s arrest of the organiser of a robbery carried out in the name of the ‘Belfast Boycott’, which he states ‘has been extended of late to cover all the sins on the calendar’. He asserts that the move is going well and it is hoped that the evacuation of the Four Courts will have been achieved before nightfall. Mention is made of their home, referred to as both ‘the fort’ and ‘Dunamasa’ (13 Mayfield Road, Terenure). He suggests that it may be necessary for them to sleep under guard, but that Molly (Brigid's sister) is being ‘quite sensible’. He emphasises that there is no need for concern about his safety and that although ‘the situation is sad enough’, it was ‘absolutely necessary’.

 

UCDA P197/88 Letter from Kevin O’Higgins to his wife Brigid O’Higgins (née Cole), 27 June 1922

Letter written day after the move against the Four Courts
[“?”]
3p.m.

Dearest,

As you have probably heard by this time we moved against the Four Courts last night. This action – inevitable in any case – was precipitated be the arrest by the irregulars of “Ginger” O’Connell as a set off against our arrest of a man who was in charge of a gang stealing £10,000 worth of motor cars in the name of the “Belfast Boycott” - which as you know has been extended of late to cover all the sins on the calendar. The action is proceeding according to plan – our forces are using three eighteen pounders and it is expected that what is left of the Four Courts will be evacuated before night. I was at the fort last night – as action was not due till about 4 a.m. I considered this was all right. I think it possible that a situation may develop in which the movement of ministers will be somewhat restricted I think that we may have to sleep here – or together somewhere – under guard. I outlined these possibilities to Molly and she is quite sensible about it. You must be equally so. There is absolutely no reason for anxiety as far as my welfare is concerned and while the situation is sad enough the action we have taken was absolutely necessary. In a few days the position will be clearer. The pair in “Dunamase” are quite safe – everything is normal in Terenure and likely to remain so. I think Bettystown may have to wait.

 

 

 

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