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03 Dec 2021

Free online event about Kildare IRA aide to Michael Collins to take place next week

100th anniversary of Collins' visit to North West

File pic: Michael Collins

A free online event about a Kildare Irish Republican Army (IRA) aide to famous rebel Michael Collins will take place next week.

Spies, Rebels and Informers 2 is a free online event that will feature a presentation by historian Seamus Purcell on Ned Broy, also known as The Spy from Rathangan, who was born in 1887 and grew up on the Kildare-Offaly border.

Author Seamus Cullen's research reveals that Broy was far more important to Collins than was previously thought and in addition to passing on vital intelligence, he also helped shape Collins's counter-intelligence strategy, becoming a key player in the network of spies who provided Collins and the IRA with vital intelligence.

Broy, who was notably played by Stephen Rea in Neil Jordan's 1996 film on Michael Collins, did not meet the same fate as his fictional counterpart. 

However, he was found out by British intelligence, and spent five months in solitary confinement in Arbour Hill on 56 charges of High Treason.

Collins threw some doubt on the British case against Broy by persuading another detective in the G Division to flee from Ireland.

When Broy was released on July 12th, Michael Collins was waiting outside the gates of Arbour Hill Prison for him with a parcel containing a new suit of clothes: following this, Broy accompanied Collins to London for the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations acting as his Private Secretary, and ensuring Collins’s security.

Broy also acquired an aircraft, nicknamed ‘the big fella’, in case the talks broke down and Collins needed to make a quick exit from London.

Eamonn De Valera also chose Broy to serve as Garda Commissioner at a time when Civil War tensions threatened to spiral out of control.

Brian Hand, a grandson of Liam Tobin will focus on the post conflict careers of Liam Tobin and Joe MacGrath in a presentation entitled Once an Intelligence Officer always an Intelligence Officer.

Liz Gillis, a historian and researcher with RTE's History Show, will also make an appearance to detail the history of Women in the Intelligence War.

Organisers explained in a statement: "Although women were central to the intelligence war their contribution has often been overlooked. Far too many accounts of the intelligence war render women invisible, obscuring their contributions and the risks they took; yet without them the intelligence war could not have succeeded."

For further information and to book a place, see Creative Rathangan Meitheal Facebook Page or go to Eventbrite.

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