Tom Maguire

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Tom Maguire (28 March 1892 – 5 July 1993) was an Irish republican who held the rank of commandant-general in the Western Command of the Irish Republican Army and led the South Mayo flying column.[1]

In May 1921, he led an ambush on a Royal Irish Constabulary patrol in Tourmakeady, County Mayo, killing four. Maguire's flying column then made for the Partry Mountains. The long held account of the following action claimed that the column were surrounded by over 700 crown forces guided by aeroplanes. Maguire was wounded and his adjutant killed, but the column managed to escape with no further casualties. British casualties were not revealed but were long believed to have been high. Some recent research however has raised the possibility that less than forty British soldiers were in the vicinity and that Maguire's column was forced to abandon their weapons with only one British officer was wounded. [2]

Maguire was involved in numerous other engagements including the Kilfall ambush.[3]

In the 1921 elections to Dáil Éireann, Maguire was returned unopposed as Teachta Dála (TD) for County Mayo as a Sinn Féin candidate. He opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty, and apart from saying "Níl" ("no" in English) when the vote was called, did not participate in any substantial way in the Dáil treaty debates. He was returned unopposed in the 1922 general election. In the 1923 general election, Maguire faced a contest and succeeded in securing the second of five seats in the Mayo South constituency, winning 5,712 votes (a share of 17.82 percent).[4][5] He was a member of the army executive which commanded rebel troops during the Irish Civil War. Maguire was captured by Free State forces and was told that he would be executed, but his life was spared, possibly because of his prominence as a Republican. While in prison his brother, Sean Maguire, aged 17, was executed by the Free State.[6]

Maguire remained a TD until 1927. He had initially indicated a willingness to contest the June 1927 general election as a Sinn Féin candidate but withdrew after the Irish Republican Army threatened to court-martial any member under IRA General Army Order 28, which forbade its members from standing in elections. (Despite this ban, IRA officers Seán Farrell (Leitrim–Sligo) and Dr John A. Madden (Mayo North) contested the election, the latter successfully).

Maguire subsequently drifted out of the IRA. In 1932, a Mayo IRA officer reported that Maguire, now firmly aligned with Sinn Féin, refused to call on men to join the IRA when speaking at republican commemorations. When challenged on this, Maguire claimed that, as the IRA “were no longer the same as they used to be”, he disagreed with the organisation.

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