Memoirs of a Tipperary Family: The Gaynors of Tyone
Fr Pat Gaynor administered the last rites to three young boys sentenced to death by a military court in Birr during the Civil War.
This important book traces the lives of three members of the Gaynor family of Tyone near Nenagh in County Tipperary. The subjects are Fr Pat Gaynor born 1887; Sean Gaynor his step-brother born 1894 and Eamonn Gaynor, son of Sean, born 1925. Their lives encapsulate the twentieth century in Ireland and their respective memoirs, written with an honesty and integrity common to all three, pull back the veil of silence. Pat Gaynor, educated at St Flannans and Maynooth, provides a revealing account of Maynooth in the early days of the twentieth century as the young priests, influenced by the Sinn Fein philosophy of Arthur Griffith, confronted the cautious establishment which included the future Cardinal Mannix. Ordained for Killaloe diocese in 1911, Pat Gaynor served his formative years on the mission in Glasgow. In 1917 he was elected to the Supreme Executive of Sinn Fein and was prominent in the anti-conscription campaign. He presents fascinating insights on local town notables in Nenagh from the old regime who attempted to manipulate the young men of Sinn Fein. He also claims that some of the medal festooned patriots had less than heroic war campaigns. Appointed curate in the west Clare parish of Mullagh, Fr Pat helped establish Sinn Fein courts which incarcerated offenders in the open air prison on Mutton Island. A firm supporter of the Treaty he retired from active politics influenced perhaps by the harrowing experience of having to administer the last rites to three young boys sentenced to death by a military court in Birr during the Civil War. His account of their sad last hours serves to temper the glorification of violence. A curate in Birr until 1937 he was again transferred to west Clare, where he died as parish priest of Kilmihil in 1949