Link between Martin O’Meara VC and Michael Collins

Sometimes historical research unearths some particularly interesting things.

Whilst looking at the history of the Irish Volunteers and Sinn Fein in Lorrha, County Tipperary, during the First World War period as part of my biography of Martin O’Meara VC, I found an interesting link between the Australian war hero and General Michael Collins of the Irish Free State Army.

As a youngster Martin O’Meara lived in the same parish as another boy named Felix Cronin, son of the local National School teacher (who was also Felix Cronin). They would have attended church together and possibly school as well. Felix was five years younger than O’Meara.

 

collins
General Michael Collins
Martin in Australia c. Oct 1915
Martin in Australia c. Oct 1915

Felix Cronin was active in the Irish Volunteers and later Sinn Fein in the parish during the First World War, and ended up as a Major-General in the Irish Free State Army in the 1920s.

In 1925 he married Kitty Kiernan, who had been fiancee of General Michael Collins. Collins had been assassinated by anti-treaty rebels in 1922.

Martin O’Meara had left the parish sometime before 1911 and travelled to Australia. He had enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in 1915. He served in Egypt in early 1916 and then on the Western Front in France and Belgium in 1916-18. He died in Perth in 1935.

Two boys from the same parish but such different outcomes ….