Commandant Frank Barrett

Commandant Frank Barrett O/C Mid. Clare Brigade (1891 – 1931).

Frank Barrett officer commanding Mid Clare Brigade was born in Bearnageeha, Darragh, one of a family of sixteen, many of whom became influential in the struggle in Clare and nationally, serving in the Irish Volunteers, Mid Clare Brigade and Cumman na mBan. Following the foundation of the Irish Volunteers in Dublin in November 1913, a Volunteer company was formed in Killone, which Frank Barrett joined. Clare had formed part of the Limerick Brigade of the Irish Volunteers up to December 1916. In that month, at a meeting in Ennis it was decided that a separate Volunteer Brigade should be formed in Clare, in the first week of February 1917 the Clare Brigade came into being with Paddy Brennan from East Clare as Brigade Commandant, Frank as Vice O/C and his brother Joe Barrett, Adjutant. Frank was also Director of Elections for Eamon de Valera’s 1917 East Clare election victory for Sinn Fein. Despite the victory in East Clare and the earlier change in organisation there remained tensions and disagreements within Clare and in relationships with Dublin, with three ambitious republican families, the Barrett’s, Brennan’s and O’Donnell’s all seeking to lead the charge in Clare. In late 1918 Dublin GHQ decided to divide the Brigade into three and gave each family control over Mid, East and West Clare respectively with Frank leading the Mid Clare Brigade throughout the period 1918 to 1921, his brother Joe from August 1920 leading the Brigades Flying Column. Following the truce in 1921, Frank remained on the Republican side with Anti-Treaty forces and in 1922 was appointed O/C First Western Division (which included Clare, the majority of Galway, south Mayo and south Roscommon). He was a signatory, as a member of the Republican Army Executive, to the Four Courts proclamation issued on 28th June 1922, as the garrison of anti-treaty republicans were being bombarded into surrender, calling on all citizens of the Irish Republic to continue the fight. Following the Civil War, Frank later served as Fianna Fáil Chairman of Clare County Council 1928 – 1930. His untimely passing at 39 came the following year, 13th April 1931. Having been imprisoned during both the War of Independence and Civil War, on the run in the elements, participating in hunger strikes, these factors contributed to serious damage to his health. Frank Barrett remembered as one of the most courageous soldiers and as an outstanding officer in Clare, is buried in Killone Abbey graveyard, Ennis. (CH)