Thomas Ashe

Ivor Griffiths, Poet, Novelist & Short Story Writer

:: Poet Home :: Poetry :: Short Stories :: Contact ::
For the British poet Thomas Ashe, see Thomas Ashe (poet). For the U.S. Congressman and judge from North Carolina, see Thomas Samuel Ashe.
Thomas Samuel Ashe
(Irish name: Tomás Ághas
12 January 1885 – 25 September 1917
Place of birth Flag of Ireland Lispole, County Kerry, Ireland
Place of death Flag of Ireland Mater Hospital, Dublin City, Ireland
Allegiance Irish Republican Brotherhood
Irish Volunteers
Years of service 1917 - 1917
Rank Batallion Commander
Battles/wars Easter Rising

Thomas Patrick Ashe (Irish name: Tomás Ághas; 12 January 1885 – 25 September 1917) born in Lispole, County Kerry, Ireland, a teacher, was a member of the Gaelic League, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and a founding member of the Irish Volunteers. During the summer of 1913, he was one of the IRB members that Douglas Hyde, president of the Gaelic League, attempted to expel.

Commanding the Fingal battalion of the Irish Volunteers, Ashe took part in the Easter Rising of 1916. Ashe's force of 60-70 men engaged British forces around north County Dublin during the rising. The battalion won a major victory in Ashbourne, County Meath where they engaged a much larger force capturing a significant quantity of arms and up to 20 Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) vehicles. 24 hours after the rising collapsed, Ashe's battalion surrendered on the orders of Padraig Pearse.

Thomas Ashe's Grave
Thomas Ashe's Grave

On 8 May 1917, Ashe and Eamon de Valera were court-martialled and both were sentenced to death. The sentences were commuted to penal servitude for life. Ashe was imprisoned in Lewes Gaol in England.

With the entry of the U.S. into World War I in April 1917, the British government was put under more pressure to solve the 'Irish problem', de Valera, Ashe and Thomas Hunter led a prisoner hunger strike on 28 May 1917 to add to this pressure. With exaggerated accounts of prison mistreatment appearing in the Irish press and mounting protests in Ireland, Ashe and the remaining prisoners were freed on 18 June 1917 by Lloyd George as part of a general amnesty.

Upon release, Ashe returned to Ireland and began a series of speaking engagements.

In August 1917, Ashe was arrested and charged with sedition for a speech that he made in Ballinalee, County Longford where Michael Collins had also been speaking. He was detained at the Curragh but was then transferred to Mountjoy Prison in Dublin. He was convicted and sentenced to two years hard labour. Ashe and other prisoners, including Austin Stack, demanded prisoner of war status as this protest evolved Ashe again went on hunger strike on 20 September 1917. On 25 September 1917, he died at the Mater Hospital after being force-fed by prison authorities.

The gravestone of Thomas Ashe, Peadar Kearney and Piaras Beaslai at Glasnevin Cemetery.
The gravestone of Thomas Ashe, Peadar Kearney and Piaras Beaslai at Glasnevin Cemetery.

Ashe's death had a significant impact on the country increasing Republican recruitment, his body lay in state at Dublin City Hall, and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.

He was also a relative of Catherine Ashe, the paternal grandmother of American actor Gregory Peck, who emigrated to the United States in the 19th century.

See also

  • List of people on stamps of Ireland
  • Thomas Ashe on Find-A-Grave

 This Irish biographical article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from a Wikipedia article. To access the original click here.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.
A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU
Free Documentation License".