Irish Volunteer Brothers

By Frank Whearity

James and Charles Murray, Skerries, Part II

Brothers in Arms

This month Skerries Historical Society celebrates Frank Whearity who gave his tenth paper to the society last Tuesday evening. Frank has shown an incredible dedication to the cause of local history over the years. He has tirelessly researched the individuals from a century ago who shaped the character of the Skerries we know today, he has written ten papers for the society, completed a primary degree as well as an MA in local history and, not content with that, published a monograph: The Easter Rising of 1916 in North County Dublin: a Skerries perspective.

Frank’s latest contribution is ‘Two Irish Volunteer Brothers, James and Charles Murray’ – a paper which dovetails with previous papers to provide further detail to the story of the part that Skerries natives played in the Civil War and how the town rebuilt itself in the years that followed.

The brothers, James born in 1898 and Charles in 1899, had joined the Irish Volunteers as teenagers in April 1917 – perhaps inspired by people like Thomas Hand who were returning from internment in Wales after the 1916 rising. One of the duties which the brothers undertook was in the Skerries Parish Court which existed in the early 1920s and took place once a month in the library. It seems that James was responsible for serving summonses on defendants and witnesses.

Both James and Charles rose to positions of prominence – James being the adjutant of C Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Fingal Brigade while Charles was a lieutenant in the same company and eventually became its commanding officer until he was interned in Newbridge Jail, Co Kildare, from July 1922. When hunger strikes began in Mountjoy in October 1923 they quickly spread to other internment camps including Newbridge where Charles Murray joined the strike.

Eventually the internees were released and Charles came home to Skerries. Both brothers played an active part in Skerries life after the Civil War was over with Charles being known for his involvement in the Catholic Boy Scout movement of Ireland until his tragically early death in 1942. James campaigned to have his own and his brother’s contributions recognised and both were awarded War of Independence medals in the 1950s – Charles’ medal being awarded posthumously.