The Minister with responsibility for Defence, Mr Paul Kehoe. T.D., Lauches the Brigade Activity Reports ( of the Military Service Pensions Collection) at a Public Symposium in Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin
Minister Kehoe today (Saturday) launched the release of the Brigade Activity Reports of the Military Service (1916-1923) Pensions Collection at a public Symposium held in Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin. The on line release of the Reports is further enhanced by an accompanying publication “The Military Service(1916- 1923) Pensions Collection The Brigade Activity Reports.
The Brigade Activity Reports (or 'A' series) represent the most anticipated file series within the Military Service Pensions Collection. These Reports were compiled by Brigade Committees around the country comprising persons who had formerly held rank in the IRA structure. The purpose of the Reports was to assist in administering pension claims under the Military Service Pensions Act, 1934. As part of this work, listings were made of operations and activities undertaken by the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Republican Army, with a focus on operations during the most active years of the War of Independence (1920-1921). Some files go on to cover activity during the Civil War (1922-23), although these are a minority. The files released today represent a unique and valuable source of evidence about the nature of guerrilla warfare during the War of Independence and the Civil War. There are 151 Report files and around 400 sketches /maps of all sizes in the series.
Speaking at the launch the Minister said, “These records are very significant as they provide a window into every parish and town-land in this country and the activities undertaken by ordinary people pursuing the ambition of nationhood. This invaluable source material provides first hand accounts of the hitherto less well known or celebrated support provided by ordinary volunteers throughout the country”. He went on to say, “I highly recommend this valuable on line source material together with the publication as an essential resource for anyone interested in learning more about our nation’s past”.
Note for Editor
Determinations under the Military Service Pensions Act, 1934 were made by a Referee and Advisory Committee who in turn relied heavily on these Brigade Activity Reports to assess personal claims for pensions as the material offered, though uneven, provides basic chronologies of activities, compiled by those who took part in the events. While the files vary enormously in quantity of information and quality of recording, the series is one of a kind and, by making it publically available for the first time, it will enable researchers to connect a lot more individuals to either well-known operations or lesser known/unknown activity. Not only that, but some participants referred to in the BARs also applied for a pension/financial award. This series will be used along with the IRA nominal rolls (already online) and individual files of the collection.
The files, created some 15 years after the events, show more than that though. Internal discords, unwillingness to participate and painful interactions are plain to see, thanks to correspondence and 'behind-the-scenes' memoranda. However, the BAR series, as it is the case with all archival collections, should be examined carefully, contextualised fully and used alongside other sources.