We held a book launch for The Six – The Lives and Memorialisation of Sligo’s Noble Six on the 20th September 2022, 100 years to the day that the Noble Six were killed. Earlier in the day my co-authors Marion Dowd, Robert Mulraney and I attended the unveiling of a new plaque in Cloonmull to the memory of the Noble Six.
In the evening we held our launch at Liber Books, O’Connell Street, Sligo. We were delighted to meet with the families of the Noble Six and had a small number of performances. Robert Mulraney read Michael Vincent O’Donoghue’s Witness Statement (found in the Bureau of Military History). O’Donoghue recalls a night of craic agus ceol at Rahelly House, the HQ of the 3rd Western Division IRA, and names many of the Noble Six that he saw that night, just a few days before they were killed.
Dr Michael Farry, eminent historian and poet, read his poem Benbulben September 1922, a poem written from the perspective of a National Army soldier on the mountain, suddenly realising the horror of what he is being asked to do.
Carmel Gunning, a singer and song writer from Sligo, sang Sligo’s Noble Six, a song that she collected in the 1980s from Ellen Lynch, who learnt the song as a young girl growing up around Rahelly House.
Dr Michael Farry, who has published extensively on the revolutionary period in Sligo, launched The Six with a wonderful speech about our research.
The Six was supported by Fourth Dimension Prospection Ltd and the printing costs were supported by Sligo County Council Museum Service. Sligo County Council Museum Service has been unfailingly supportive of this publication from the outset.
The Six is currently available from
Liber bookshop, O’Connell Street, Sligo – online orders can be made here
Eason’s, O’Connell Street, Sligo
Connolly Books, 43 East Essex Street, Temple Bar, Dublin, D02 XH96
For international orders, contact me directly.
Who were Sligo’s Noble Six?
In September 1922, the National Army closed in on the anti-treaty IRA headquarters at Rahelly House, north of Sligo town. After an intense firefight, approximately 60 men evacuated the house, making for the iconic mountain of Benbulben, with the intention of crossing the uplands to reach the safety of Tormore Cave – better known as the ‘Glencar hideout’. Several IRA men were captured on the mountains and imprisoned by the National Army. The Six focuses on six men who were shot and killed at two different locations in the uplands. These men – Divisional Adjutant Brian MacNeill, Brigadier Seamus Devins, Captain Harry Benson, Lieutenant Patrick Carroll, Volunteer Joseph Banks and Volunteer Thomas Langan – became known as Sligo’s Noble Six.
The pursuit, capture and deaths of these six men has often been discussed. Yet, apart from their deaths, little attention has been given to their character, their family lives and their backgrounds – until now.
The Six tells the individual stories of the six men, based on primary source evidence from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; augmented by secondary source material, primary witness interviews conducted in the 1970s and 1980s, and new interviews with descendants of the Noble Six and descendants of their friends.
The Six is written by myself, Dr James Bonsall, with Dr Marion Dowd (ATU Sligo) and Robert Mulraney (Independent Researcher).