IRA Intelligence File, c.1920-1921
This photobook was created by an IRA Intelligence Unit, and contains photographs of member of the RIC, Auxiliary Division and British Intelligence agents. Each man is numbered and with their personal details or physical descriptions listed in order to identify them as targets for IRA assassination or surveillance. These men were generally chosen due to their involvement in actions against IRA members, for example, Donald McClean is identified as Peadar Clancy’s murderer.
Other pages show photographs and personal details of civilians; these men and women were probably being identified as potential informants for the IRA due to their job; many worked in Dublin Castle or as labourers and clerks in barracks around Dublin city. One such source of information was Dublin Castle typist Lily Mernin who was a key informant for the IRA for their actions on Bloody Sunday; her photograph, pictured in Dublin Castle with her colleagues, appears in the book.
Some of the photographs appear to have been taken without the subjects’ knowledge, and some are official or studio photographs. These could be obtained by IRA Intelligence Departments through friends of the movement working in photography studios, who made copies of the photographs and passed them to IRA Intelligence. Evidence is coming to light that this was a common practice used to identify Auxiliaries and other persons of interest.
There is evidence to suggest that many of the photographs and information on the Auxiliaries in this book originated from Second Lieutenant John Reynolds, an English ex-soldier of the South Staffordshire Regiment now serving in Ireland with the RIC Auxiliary Division at Dublin Castle. Reynolds helped Cumann na mBan member Bridget Martin when her husband was arrested, and Martin approached IRA Director of Intelligence Michael Collins to inform him that Reynolds was a person who might be sympathetic to the cause. Reynolds was offered payment for information which he supplied to Frank Thornton, Deputy Assistant Director of Intelligence.
Bridget Martin said in her Witness Statement (WS.398) to the Bureau of Military History that “The information supplied by Reynolds led to many successful ambushes of the Auxiliaries and to the failure of many of their raids on Volunteer houses”. Reynolds fell under suspicion of being a spy, and he was transferred to Co. Clare where he continued his activities as an agent for the IRA before being arrested. He escaped execution as the Anglo-Irish Truce was announced, and Reynolds, unable to return to England, took a position in the Irish Free State Army.
This file came into the possession of Patrick Fitzpatrick, IRA member and brother of Commandant Matt Fitzpatrick, 5th Northern Division who was killed in action in Clones in February 1922. It was kept by the family until 2020, when it was donated to the National Museum of Ireland.
With acknowledgement and special thanks to Gerard Fitzpatrick and Anna Pegley.