Scholars and Revolutionaries / Scoláirí agus Réabhlóidithe

Two members of staff, Professors Thomas Walsh (who had served as a Sinn Féin urban councillor) and Valentine Steinberger, along with three students, Cornelius O’Leary, Brigid Lyons and Thomas Derrig, were arrested in the aftermath of the Rebellion.

Changing political sentiment in the University even provoked the chairman of the Galway Urban District Council, Máirtín Mór McDonogh, to declare: ‘There are professors up there who are not able to educate the students at all, and are making pious sneaks of them.’

The separatist Irish Volunteers were formed in the University by Thomas Derrig (1897-1956), a native of Westport, County Mayo. A recipient of a prestigious county council scholarship, Derrig was a student between 1915 and 1919 , studying commerce. Most students were at home on their Easter holidays during the 1916 Rising but as Captain of the College Company, Derrig was imprisoned following the Rebellion and deported to Frongoch. Following his graduation he fought with the Volunteers during the War of Independence in Mayo, was appointed commandant of the West Mayo battalion in 1920 and was elected to Dáil Éireann in 1921. Opposing the Anglo-Irish Treaty, he served as Assistant Adjutant General of the Anti-Treaty IRA during the Civil War and was imprisoned. He subsequently became a Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow-Kilkenny and served as Minister for Education among other senior government posts.

Volunteer Thomas Hynes (1879-1966), a well-known athlete, was employed as a laboratory attendant / technician in the University and was active throughout the revolutionary period in the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Irish Volunteers. Hynes was central to the small IRB cell in the College that included Cornelius O’Leary, Thomas Derrig, Brian Cusack and others. Using his professional expertise he manufactured pungent stink bombs that were used to break up recruitment meetings in the town during the war. He narrowly avoided arrest following the Easter Rising and during the War of Independence he manufactured and stored explosives on the College campus that were used in attacks on both the RIC and the Crown Forces. He was responsible for training the Galway Volunteers in the use of explosives throughout the period. In 1919 he was prominent in establishing the ITGWU in the town and in the University.

Professor Valentine Steinberger (1853-1916) was arrested during the 1916 Rising and died shortly after his release from prison in November 1916. A cultural nationalist, Steinberger was not an active member of the Volunteers but actively supported their aims. A native of Bavaria, Steinberger had studied modern languages in Munich, Rome, Naples and Paris. Following the outbreak of the Easter Rebellion, Steinberger, then in his mid-sixties, was seized by police in his home on 27 April and imprisoned ‘like the vilest criminal’ the College student magazine later claimed. Already weakened by poor health, he developed pneumonia during his two week confinement and deportation to England. A Galway student who had been imprisoned alongside him later recalled that ‘he treated with calm contempt the gibes and jeers, the insults and indignities he had to undergo and was never in the least afraid of the worst that could be done to him.’ Though arrested because of his German nationality, Steinberger’s own son Charles served with the Royal Navy.

Brigid Lyons (1896-1987) fought in the Four Courts Garrison in Dublin, witnessing some of the heaviest fighting of the Rebellion in the Church Street district in the latter days of Easter Week. Imprisoned in Kilmainham Jail following the surrender, Brigid was released along with all but five of the female rebels on 10 May. Arriving back in Galway, she was obliged to explain her absence to the Dean of Residence, Reverend John Hynes (later University president), who was eager to learn first-hand of the fight in Dublin. She subsequently abandoned her studies to immerse herself in the Independence struggle and later completed a medical degree in University College, Dublin. She would specialise in the treatment of tuberculosis, and worked among the children of the Dublin tenements.

Scoláirí agus Réabhlóidithe

I ndiaidh an Éirí Amach gabhadh beirt chomhaltaí foirne, na hOllúna Thomas Walsh (a bhí ina chomhairleoir ag Sinn Féin i gcomhairle bhaile na Gaillimhe) agus Valentine Steinberger, maraon le triúr mac léinn, Cornelius O’Leary, Brigid Lyons agus Thomas Derrig.

Bhí tuairimí polaitiúla lucht na hOllscoile ag athrú agus dúirt cathaoirleach Chomhairle Ceantair Baile na Gaillimhe, Máirtín Mór McDonogh: ‘There are professors up there, who are not able to educate the students at all, and are making pious sneaks of them.’

Bhunaigh Thomas Derrig (1897-1956), as Cathair na Mart, Contae Mhaigh Eo, ó dhúchas, Óglaigh na hÉireann san Ollscoil. Bronnadh scoláireacht mhór le rá ón gcomhairle contae ar Derrig a bhí ina mhac léinn anseo idir 1915 agus 1919 ag déanamh staidéir ar an tráchtáil. Bhí na mic léinn sa bhaile ar laethanta saoire i rith Éirí Amach 1916 ach ó tharla go raibh Derrig ina chaptaen ar Chomplacht an Choláiste, gabhadh é i ndiaidh an Éirí Amach agus cuireadh go Frongoch é. I ndiaidh dó a chéim a bhaint amach, throid sé leis na hÓglaigh i gCogadh na Saoirse i Maigh Eo, ceapadh é ina cheannfort ar chathlán Mhaigh Eo Thiar i 1920 agus toghadh é do Dháil Éireann i 1921. Bhí sé i gcoinne an Chonartha Angla-Éireannaigh, bhí sé ina ardaidiúnach cúnta ar an IRA in aghaidh an Chonartha i rith an Chogaidh Chathartha agus gabhadh é. Bhí sé ina TD d’Fhianna Fáil i gCeatharlach-Cill Chainnigh agus bhí sé ina Aire Oideachais agus i bpoist shinsearacha eile sa rialtas chomh maith.

D’oibrigh an tÓglach Thomas Hynes, lúthchleasaí iomráiteach, i saotharlann eolaíochta san Ollscoil agus bhí sé gníomhach i dtréimhse na réabhlóide i mBráithreachas Phoblacht na hÉireann agus in Óglaigh na hÉireann. Bhí páirt lárnach ag Hynes i mbuíon bheag IRB an Choláiste ina raibh Cornelius O’Leary, Thomas Derrig, Brian Cusack agus daoine eile. Bhí an saineolas aige chun buamaí bréana a dhéanamh a caitheadh isteach sna cruinnithe earcaíochta ar an mbaile i rith an chogaidh. Is beag nár gabhadh é i ndiaidh an Éirí Amach agus i rith Chogadh na Saoirse rinne sé agus stóráil sé pléascáin ar an gcampas le húsáid chun an RIC agus Fórsaí na Corónach a ionsaí. Bhí sé freagrach as Óglaigh na Gaillimhe a thraenáil i bpléascáin a úsáid ar feadh an achair seo. Sa bhliain 1919 bhí ról tábhachtach aige i mbunú an ITGWU sa bhaile agus san Ollscoil.

Gabhadh an tOllamh Valentine Steinberger (1853-1916) i rith Éirí Amach 1916 agus bhásaigh sé go gairid i ndiaidh é a scaoileadh saor as an bpríosún i mí na Samhna 1916. Náisiúnaí cultúrtha a bhí i Steinberger, ní ball gníomhach de na hÓglaigh a bhí ann ach thacaigh sé go gníomhach lena gcuid iarrachtaí. B’as Bavaria ó dhúchas do Steinberger agus bhí staidéar déanta aige ar nuatheangacha i München, sa Róimh, i Napoli agus i bPáras. I rith Éirí Amach na Cásca, thóg na póilíní Steinberger óna theach ar an 27 Aibreán, agus é i lár na seascaidí faoin tráth sin. Rinne iris na mac léinn cur síos ar ball ar an tslí inar gabhadh ‘like the vilest criminal’. Ní raibh an tsláinte go maith aige, tháinig niúmóine air fad a bhí sé gafa agus i ngéibheann i Sasana é. Dúirt mac léinn as Gaillimh, a bhí gafa ag an am céanna, cé go raibh drochmheas ag Steinberger ar na maslaí ar fad a thug siad dó d’fhan sé ciúin faoi agus níor léirigh sé riamh go raibh aon fhaitíos air faoin méid a d’fhéadfaidís a dhéanamh air. Cé gur gabhadh é mar gheall ar a náisiúntacht Ghearmánach, bhí mac Steinberger féin i gCabhlach na Breataine.

Throid Brigid Lyons (1896-1987) i ngarastún na gCeithre Chúirt i mBaile Átha Cliath agus chonaic sí cuid den chíréib ba mheasa san Éirí Amach ar Shráid an Teampaill sna laethanta deiridh de Sheachtain na Cásca. Cuireadh i bPríosún Chill Mhaighneann í nuair a ghéill siad agus scaoileadh saor í mar aon leis na mná eile ar fad ach cúigear ar an 10 Bealtaine. Nuair a d’fhill sí ar Ghaillimh bhí uirthi míniú a thabhairt don Déan Cónaithe, an tOirmhinneach Hynes, a raibh bís air cloisteáil faoin troid i mBaile Átha Cliath. Chaith sí in aer an staidéar ina dhiaidh sin agus throid sí ar son na saoirse. Bhain sí céim sa leigheas amach níos deireanaí ó Choláiste na hOllscoile, Baile Átha Cliath. Chuaigh sí le speisialtóireacht i leigheas an eitinn agus d’oibrigh sí i measc leanaí na dtionóntán i mBaile Átha Cliath.