Mary Anne Tobin

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Mary Anne Tobin (Carew)

Birthplace: Knockgraffon, Tipperary, Ireland
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Jeremiah (Jack) Carew and Bridget Keating
Wife of James Tobin
Mother of John Tobin; May McCarthy and Eva Duggan
Sister of Margaret Mulcahy; Michael Carew; Catherine M. Heard; James (infant) Carew; Mary (Unsourced, b. 1862) Carew and 10 others

Managed by: Private User
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About Mary Anne Tobin

Annette Condon 1 Marian Tobin Cahir Revolutionary Who Played Key Role in The War of Independence Marian Tobin (nee Carew), 1870-1955. Source: Kevin Tobin-Dougan, Marian’s great-grandson. Colourful exploits My brother, Philip, my sister, Mary and I grew up in Church Street, Cahir listening to the colourful exploits of our revolutionary grand-aunt, Marian Tobin, who sheltered Dan Breen and Seán Treacy at her home, Tincurry House, after the incident at Soloheadbeg, in January 1919, which triggered the War of Independence. We heard from our Dad, Marian’s nephew, Gerry Condon, how on the 14th of May 1921, the Black and Tans had ransacked and blown up Tincurry House (now owned by Michael and Alice McCarthy). We were in awe when we heard that Marian, in a show of defiance, had pulled out the piano – secretly packed with guns and ammunition – onto the lawn and played God Save Ireland, accompanied by her 13-year old daughter, Evangelista (Eva). A woman ahead of her time Marian Tobin went onto make history in 1920 as the first female county councillor in Tipperary and one of just 43 across Ireland. This was ground-breaking stuff. Only two years earlier, in 1918, women aged 30 were granted the right to vote through representation of the People Act. Even in 2014, just four years ago, women accounted for just one in five local councillors.i Imagine back in 1920 what an achievement this was? A former editor of The Nationalist newspaper, Brendan Long, wrote a history of the Council to mark the centenary of its existence in 1999, saying that the 1920s saw major electoral change and citing Marian Tobin’s appearance on the scene as “remarkable”.ii Annette Condon 2 In 1950, Marian was awarded a Service Medal (1917-1921) from the Irish Government and has rightfully earned a place in all the history books of that period, including Dan Breen’s My Fight for Irish Freedom and Ernie O’Malley’s On Another Man’s Wound. In this year, as we mark the centenary of the emancipation of women in Ireland, it seems an appropriate time to remember her contribution to the formation of the Irish Republic. It is also a story of how members of one family followed different paths in fighting for what they believed. New information released in 2017 What firm evidence do we have that Marian Tobin was actively engaged in the War of Independence? The latest batch of documents from the Military Service Pensions Collection, released just a few months ago in October 2017, reveal her hidden role at the very start of the War of Independence. In a letter written in 1950, in support of Marian’s application for a pension, Dan Breen (who was apparently a close relative of John Burke and his wife, who owned the Railway Bar in Church Street, now known as the Granary) wrote in her praise, saying it was she who sheltered him and the others involved in the ambush for several days “while the area was very hot”. Breen praised Mrs Tobin and described her as “one of the best workers we had from 1917 to 1923. There are few woman and not many men who gave more help than Mrs Tobin.” He also mentioned her in his bestselling memoir My Fight for Irish Freedom, published in 1924, in which he thanked her for sheltering them while they were on the run. “I shall never forget her kindness to us that night. Her house was ever open for the ‘boys’,” he wrote. Dan Breen had a price of £10,000 on his head when he was pictured here in 1921 at a farm in Tipperary (known to be Tincurry). Source: My Fight for Irish Freedom Annette Condon 3 A safe house for Seamus Robinson Corroborating information was provided too by Robinson, the commanding officer of the Third Tipperary Brigade, who was also at Soloheadbeg. He said that Mrs Tobin had been the first person to receive with “open arms and encouragement” the men who carried out the Soloheadbeg ambush. He went on to state that her home was in constant use by the IRA from 1919 until 1923 and she was a “de facto” member of the organisation. It is important to note that cases of women having official roles in the IRA during this time are rare, and it was more common for people like Mrs Tobin to take up a role without being a member of an organisation to avoid detection. Source: Military Service (1916-1923) Pensions Project. Mud bombs galore Family stories recount that Tincurry was constantly used by Treacy and Co. to practice drills and to bury gelignite in the rose beds for the later destruction of bridges in the area, including Ballydrehid by Matt Barlow and brigade. The 96 acres at Tincurry were also used by Treacy to experiment with different types of explosives, especially mud bombs to be stuck on the roofs of police barracks. This is confirmed by Ernie O’Malley, who details in his letter how Tobin’s home was used several times as a safehouse, to hide arms, and to mix explosives. It also becomes apparent that it was used for high-level meetings. Source: Military Service (1916-1923) Pensions Project. A warm welcome for Ernie O’Malley In his book Another Man’s Wound, Ernie O’Malley recounts visiting Tincurry House with Seán Treacy and Seamus Robinson, having been refused beds in two other houses. “Mrs Tobin came out when I shouted from beyond the stream. “Glory be to God, it’s you,” she said. “Well..well..well! Come in and warm yourself; you must be perished with the hunger. I’ll ready the breakfast.”iii After an attack at Hollyford, Ernie O’Malley, Treacy and Robinson received burns on the roof of the police station before being forced to retreat. They turned up Annette Condon 4 at Tincurry and were met by Marian. “How is every bit of you, you’re heartily welcome but glory be to God, what happened to your faces?” iv The gift of intuition Marian certainly seems to have been gifted with intuition, once telling O’Malley, “You had best sleep up the hill to-night. I feel that something is going to happen and I’m all nerves.”v and at another time about a dream she had. “You were all covered in blood, she said, “so here’s a dash of holy water for you and be more careful.” She also described the frequent raids on her house. “They lie around the house til the dawn and then in they come… It’s Mr O’Malley the officers ask for. Oh, he’ll be glad enough to meet you, I tell them, but why don’t you raid during the night?”vi Fuzzy-haired Eva Tobin Despite being only twelve years of age, Marian’s daughter, Eva, played her part in supporting the rebels and is referenced in O’Malley’s book along with her sister May. Kevin, Eva’s grandson, told me that Eva was a password-holder for the local IRA Brigade and helped in the surveillance efforts. I quote from O’Malley’s book, “Twelve-year old fuzzy-haired Eva, who had often scouted the neighbouring roads on her bicycle came down stairs. She had to hear the story too. Her speckled grey eyes lit up with joy: ‘Oh show me your revolver,’ she begged. She tramped around the house in my Sam Brown and imitated the accents of the raiding officers from the barracks.”vii O’Malley also describes Eva as a “little girl in a black and white print frock”, who was assigned the job of tending tulip slips, which would be planted on the rebels’ graves once they were killed.viii Eva’s grandson recalls that as an adult, Eva always placed English stamps with the Queen’s head upside down on letters as a symbolic gesture of defiance. A case of the measles and the Ambush of Knocklong In 1985, Willy McGrath of Tincurry and the Mountain Road (born 1904) recounted to Joe Walsh that he remembered the Tobin children well. One day he was coming around to play with John when he met Mrs Tobin at the stile and she told him he could not come to Tincurry House as the children all had measles and ‘”it wouldn’t do to spread it all over Garryclogher National School.’” A few days later, he asked John about the measles only to be told that was the first John knew of it but he remembered the day well as his mother had woken them up early and brought them to their cousins in Ballinard, near Tipperary Town. This was also the night of the Knocklong Ambush (13th May 1919), one of the most dramatic events of the War of Independence when Marian Tobin was sheltering Breen, Treacy and the rescued Seán Hogan. The local look-out man Some of you may remember Tom Mahony, who had a drapery shop in the Square near the bank. According to local accounts, Tom operated as one of the of the lookouts for Tincurry House at night. The IRA had scouts on the look-out within a two-mile radius to see if the British were coming. According to Tom, the British soldiers used to wear hob-nailed boots and you would hear them coming a mile away. Once he heard the Black-and-Tans approach, Tom would then sprint back to the house to warn the IRA rebels to leave Tincurry and retreat to the mountains. Marion Tobin in her own words In a letter written in 1950 in support of her pension application, Marian said that her home at Tincurry was described by the British as the headquarters of the IRA of that time and the birthplace of Sinn Féin. She described how she risked her life by driving Ernie O’Malley, when there was a price on his head, from Tincurry to Kilbehenny, where he would cross the Annette Condon 5 mountains to Araglen. Marion Tobin also names Ned McGrath, Cahir Abbey and Sean Prendergast, Ballylooby as references for her involvement in the armed struggle. She says her home was raided and that she “kept and cleaned guns as well as those who used them, carried despatches for Robinson, Treacy and Breen and treated O’Malley and Robinson for burns after the attack at Hollyford.” An extract from Marian Tobin’s letter in 1950 where she describes her role in the War of Independence. Source: Marion Williams, her great-granddaughter. An extract from Marian Tobin’s application for a pension. Source: Marion Williams. Annette Condon 6 Early beginnings So where and how did it all begin? Marian (christened Mary) was born on the 25th June 1870 in the parish of Tullamaine, outside Cahir in the shadow of the Motte of Knockgraffon as one of fourteen children born to my great-grandparents, Bridget and Jeremiah (Jack) Carew. From all accounts, there may have been other children who died in infancy. Marian’s father, Jack, was the son of John Carew and Bridget Kelly while her mother, Bridget Keating was the daughter of James Keating and Catherine Lonergan. Marian’s siblings were Margaret (1857), Michael (1858), Catherine (1860), Johanna (1864), Ross (1865), John (1867), William (1868), Bridget (1869), Jeremiah (1871), Thomas (1872) James (1874), Anne (my grandmother) (1877) and John (1879). At that stage, there were no inklings as to Marian’s future revolutionary path. Bridget Keating Carew, mother of Marian Tobin. Source: Annette Condon, Marian Tobin’s grandniece. Marriage a major turning point On the 18th of November 1902, at the age of 27, Marian (recorded as Maria) wed James Tobin of Tincurry with my grandmother, Anne, as her witness along with William Morrissey. In the 1911 census, Marian is listed alongside her husband James and their three children, May, aged 7, John aged 6 and Eva aged 5. The following year, Marian and her husband were guests at the wedding of her sister, my grandmother, Anne as she married Philip Condon. Annette Condon 7 o The wedding of Marian’s sister Anne to Philip Condon. Marian is pictured in the second row. Source: Annette Condon. Marian Tobin with her children, May, John and Eva circa 1920. The picture was taken in Cahir by her brother-in-law, Philip Condon, my grandfather, who was a well-known photographer. Source; Marion Williams. Annette Condon 8 Marian Tobin’s humour My father along with his brothers, Paddy and Christy and sister Florrie, often visited Tincurry House to visit their Aunt Marian. One room was circular, built like a tower. Fascinated with this, my father asked, “Aunty, why do you have a round room in your house?” Showing her wit and good humour, Marian Tobin replied, “So the cats cannot pee in the corners!” Marion and James Tobin with their three children outside Tincurry House. Source: Marion Williams. Love and loss Tragedy was to strike as James died at the young age of 51 in 1918, leaving Marian with three young children. She was well provided for and had two farms, one at Tincurry and one at Ballinard near Tipperary Town, but nothing could have prepared her for the loss of her loving husband, just sixteen years after her marriage. James Tobin’s memorial card. Source: Kevin Tobin-Dougan. Annette Condon 9 Tincurry House: IRA Divisional Headquarters According to records of the time, James Tobin was an active volunteer in the IRA with some accounts saying that he died of natural causes following an operation and others saying that he suffered gunshot wounds from active service in the IRA. The bureau of Military History certainly documents the forming of the "Tincurry Company" (Irish Volunteers and Sinn Féin Cumann were formed together), outside Tincurry on the roadside by James Tobin. This was later to become The Cahir Battalion after a joining of seven companies. This battalion was later to become the 6th Battalion of the 3rd Tipperary Brigade. As a result, it is no surprise that Tincurry House was referred to as IRA divisional headquarters on maps.ix James Tobin’s headstone records that he was a captain of the Irish Volunteers and in Marian’s own words, he was the President of (the Tincurry) Sinn Féin Club and in frequent correspondence with Arthur Griffith following the 1916 Rising. On the death of her husband, Marian felt it was her loyal duty to continue his work and support the armed struggle for independence. Different brave paths Of course, things were not always black and white in the Ireland of that time. On her husband’s side, her two nephews-in-law were World War I heroes. Frank Tobin-Wall, the son of William Wall and Ellie Tobin, was the assistant paymaster on HMS Triumph which was torpedoed, and sank, in the Dardanelles, Gallipoli on 25th May 1915. He drowned on that day, aged 25. Jack Tobin-Willis, the son of Dr James George Willis and Annie Tobin, was a Lt Colonel in the royal flying corps and was shot down in aerial combat in Ypres 17th August 1917. Apparently, he had shot down two German planes, two days prior to himself being shot down.x Marian Tobin’s nephew-in-law, Michael Fran Tobin-Wall, who died during World War I. Source: Kevin Tobin-Dougan. Marian Tobin’s other nephew-in-law, Jack Tobin-Willis, who also died in World War I. Source: Our Heroes website. Annette Condon 10 Marian’s own nephew, my dad, Gerry, subsequently fought in World War II. My father told me that his aunt did not speak to him for a period after he joined up as from her perspective, he had joined the enemy forces, even though his motivation was to fight to save small nations against Hitler. Gerry Condon, nephew of Marian Tobin, pictured during World War II in North Africa. Source: Annette Condon. The destruction of Tincurry House As previously referenced, Tincurry House was raided for the twelfth time in as many months and destroyed in May 1921 by the British forces in retaliation for the kidnap and execution of District Inspector, Gilbert Potter, which is itself is a terribly sad story, reflecting the brutality of war and the atrocities committed on both sides. In reprisal for his death, 14 houses were destroyed in Tipperary, according to the orders of Col. Commandant NJG Cameron, “That persons concerned are active supporters of armed rebels and especially the third Tipperary brigade of the Irish Republican Army, that they reside in the area and third Tipperary Brigade has admitted responsibility for the brutal murder of District Inspector Potter on or about the 20th April 1921.” Westminster hears about Tincurry The destruction of Tincurry House was raised by Marian Tobin’s brother-in-law, Dr James Tobin, a GP and a magistrate in Derbyshire to his local MP and subsequently discussed in the House of Commons in London. Interestingly Dr Tobin seems unaware of the role his sister-in-law was playing or indeed his deceased brother had previously played within the IRA. A short extract follows: “There is resident in Derbyshire a man whom I know very well and whom everyone knows, a Dr Tobin, who has been a magistrate for about 20 years, who is universally respected, and who, for more years than I care to count, has been the foremost medical man in the central part of Derbyshire. I say all this to show that such a man may be reasonably supposed, and certainly supposed, to tell one nothing but the truth. I will read to the House his account of what took place, and as will be seen it is only one of many similar occurrences on the same day. I know the House will be shocked…. This is what happened. Dr Tobin writes: ‘Our old house and home in Ireland was blown up by the military on Saturday last, the 14th May, 1921—Tincurry House, Cahir, Co. Tipperary. It was an old country house, pre-Cromwellian, with additions and alterations from time to time… Annette Condon 11 It was in occupation of my brother's widow and her youngest daughter, 13 years of age. My brother died about 3 years ago. My brother's two other children, 15 and 16½ years of age respectively, areaway at school, one, a girl, in England, and the boy, 15 years of age, in Dublin. They, of course, go to the old home for school holidays only. No occupants of the house except the widow, Mrs. Marian Tobin, and her daughter, Eva, 13 years of age, and the servants. The widow writes me that on Saturday last the military arrived and gave her an hour's notice to clear out her family, that the house was to be demolished. No furniture to be removed, only sufficient clothing, etc. No reasons given—nothing incriminating found, nor ever had been, though the house and place had been searched and raided a dozen times or more night and day during the last 12 months or so. Before placing the bombs, the house and all its rooms were thoroughly searched, and every article of furniture was smashed with picks and hatchets. The beds and bedroom furniture, as well as all the old mahogany chests, were all broken into matchwood. The new bathroom and bath and its basins, etc., were broken to bits. In fact, everything in the house upstairs and down was broken with picks and hatchets, so that nothing could possibly be saved or restored. Having thoroughly completed this wreckage, then the bombs were placed in the principal rooms and fired, and the dear old house and home blown to the four winds of heaven. Meanwhile, the widow and her little daughter, Eva Tobin, stood on the lawn as grim witnesses, carefully surrounded by the armed forces of the Crown. Incidentally this was also the home of my two nephews, who were killed in France and Gallipoli during the Great War…. It cannot be alleged that this lady or her daughter were participants in any outrage. It would seem unlikely that the home of two officers who fell fighting for us in the Great War would be the home of participants in outrages. It could not be used for the purposes of an ambush on the roadside, because I understand it is not on the road. What reason can be given for this action I do not know, but whatever reason may be given, I ask this House to say that such proceedings as these are wrong.’” xi The Tobin family at Tincurry House around 1915 prior to its destruction. Source: Kevin Tobin-Dougan. Annette Condon 12 Tincurry House around 1921 after the attack. Source; Kevin Tobin-Dougan. The lady was not for turning Family accounts discredit the statement that Marian Tobin entertained the soldiers after the entire house was smashed into splinters and believe it to be fake English news. Family stories recount that out of decency, she automatically gave food, tea and a little beer to the hungry and thirsty squadron, but we believe that she would not have provided peeled cucumber sandwiches and scones after they had destroyed her home! Despite this trauma, Marian remained unrepentant and continued to support Sinn Féin and the IRA. Annette Condon 13 Marian Tobin with Matt Barlow Matt Barlow, Commandant and Chief Engineer of the Third Tipperary brigade, circa 1923. The photograph can be dated as Matt has a Thompson machine gun, issued in 1923 and Marian rests with an Enfield 303, possibly imported by Erskine Childers, who was a habitual visitor to Tincurry. Source: Kevin Tobin-Dougan. Rebuilding of Tincurry Part of the house was rebuilt later in 1921 and completed in 1932 but as a single-storied building. This re-construction is referenced in O’Malley’s book when Marian Tobin says, “I’m afraid you can’t sleep in your new room yet. It’d be too dangerous now.” O’Malley goes on to say, “My room had been named when part of the house was rebuilt. It looked out on the yard and had a stairway, which would have made escape easier.” xii .. Tincurry House rebuilt. Source: Michael and Alice McCarthy. Annette Condon 14 Councillor Marian Tobin On the 21st June 1920, Marian made history by entering Council chambers as the first female county councillor in Tipperary, where she served until the elections of 1925. This was the first election held under Proportional Representation, which has been used ever since. It was also the moment when as Brendan Long said, “the New Guard took over from the old, the occasion of a major Sinn Féin challenge to the old Nationalists, who had from 1899, dominated the County Council scene.”xiii Following declaration of acceptance of office and the election of Chairman, Marian was quick to establish her republican credentials, seconding a proposal that no list of rate payer for the information of British agents be drawn up nor any facilities for obtaining extracts from Rate or Valuation books for above purposes The Chairman also proposed that the Council acknowledge the authority of Dáil Éireann as the duly elected Government of the Irish people, which was duly passed. Another proposal – passed unanimously – declared that the members of the Council pledge their “whole-hearted support to the organised workers of Ireland in the great battle they are raging against the tyranny of foreign militarism by refusing to handle munitions of war which may be used to estimate the remnant of our ancient nation.” Marian was also elected to the University Scholars Committee and to the Insurance Committee. An extract from the Minutes of Proceedings of S.R County Council at the AGM, Monday 21st June 1920. Annette Condon 15 A legacy for Ballylooby Dr James Tobin, brother-in-law to Marian, who had raised the issue of the house’s destruction in the Westminster Parliament, died in 1933. In his will, made at the Grande Hotel de Cimiez, Nice, he bequeathed to John Tobin, Marian’s son, his ring with the family crest and his gold watch as well as legacies to Marian’s daughters, Eva and May. He also founded two scholarships for the children of Ballylooby, which remained active for many years. Dr John Tobin driving with his wife Anne. Marian Tobin is pictured shielding her face and the young man peering into the car is her son, John Tobin. Source: Marion Williams. The sale of Tincurry In later years, Marian moved first to Ballinard and then to Limerick with Tincurry House being put up for auction by her daughter, May McCarthy, in February 1942, where it was described as a “choice, modern, residential, roadside holding.” Marian pictured in later years with her daughter Eva and son-in-law, Cecil Dougan. Source: Kevin Tobin-Dougan. Annette Condon 16 The end of an era In September 1955, Marian Tobin died, aged 84 years, and is buried with her husband in Ballylooby. Her obituary described her passage as a loss to Ireland and her home at Tincurry as “a haven for hunted men” with callers “whose names are history.” All that remembered her spoke of her kindness and good humour, saying she had time for everybody. In 2018, we recall this Cahir woman’s brave contribution to the establishment of the Irish Republic. Marian Tobin’s obituary from The Irish Press. Source: Kevin Tobin-Dougan. Annette Condon 17 The Tobin family headstone at Ballylooby, Source: BillionGraves Cemetery and Head stone records. Acknowledgements This document was a collaborative effort. I am indebted to my cousins, Kevin Tobin-Dougan and Marion Williams, great-grandchildren of Marian Tobin, who provided much of the material. Thank you also to Michael O’Carroll, grand-nephew and Rolando de Aguiar, great-grandnephew, who researched and shared the Carew family history. A word of appreciation to the McCarthy family for welcoming me to Tincurry House and for sharing their valuable insights. I am grateful to Tipperary County Council who allowed me access its archives and acknowledge with gratitude the Military Service Pensions Collection and the use of its archived material. References i ii Brendan Long; A Century of Local Democracy South Tipperary County Council, 1st edition 1999, page 43 iii Ernie O’Malley; On Another Man’s Wound, pages 150 and 151. Published December 21st 2001 by Roberts Rinehart Publishers (first published 1936) iv Ernie O’Malley; On Another Man’s Wound, pages 149. Published December 21st 2001 by Roberts Rinehart Publishers (first published 1936 v Ernie O’Malley; On Another Man’s Wound, page 298. Published December 21st 2001 by Roberts Rinehart Publishers (first published 1936) vi Ernie O’Malley; On Another Man’s Wound, page 307. Published December 21st 2001 by Roberts Rinehart Publishers (first published 1936) vii Ernie O’Malley; On Another Man’s Wound, pages 150 and 151. Published December 21st 2001 by Roberts Rinehart Publishers (first published 1936) viii Ernie O’Malley; On Another Man’s Wound, page 297. Published December 21st 2001 by Roberts Rinehart Publishers (first published 1936) ix x xi xii Ernie O’Malley; On Another Man’s Wound, page 307. Published December 21st 2001 by Roberts Rinehart Publishers (first published 1936 xiii Brendan Long, A Century of Local Democracy South Tipperary County Council, 1st edition 1999, page 43

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Mary Anne Tobin's Timeline

Knockgraffon, Tipperary, Ireland
Age 17
Age 31
Tipperary, Ireland
Age 33
Tipperary, Ireland