Rare Fianna na hÉireann Medal (for sale)

Origins

Na Fianna na hÉireann was founded by Bulmer Hobson on 26 June 1902 at the Catholic Boys’ Hall, Falls Road, Belfast. In Dublin the founders of the Fianna are not so clear, nor the actual date of formation.
  • Separately, a branch of the National Boy Scouts – called the Red Branch Knights – were founded by Countess Constance Markievicz sometime before July 1909.
Later on that summer there was a meeting at the Sherrard Street home of Frank Molony, brother of Helena Molony, where Hobson, Helena Molony and Markievicz discussed the establishment of the Fianna in Dublin.
  • Hobson presided at a meeting in 34 Lower Camden Street, Dublin, on 16 August 1909
  • The Irish National Boy Scouts changed their name to Fianna na hÉireann.
  • They also elected officers:
    • Hobson as president
    • Markievicz as vice-president
    • Padraig Ó Riain as secretary
  • On 21 August a report in An Claidheamh Soluis noted the meeting and stated that about 100 boys attended.
    • Seán Heuston was the leader of the Fianna on Dublin’s north side
    • Con Colbert was the leader on the south side

Louis Le Roux (Life of Patrick H. Pearse) wrote that

“The Fianna were clearly under the aegis of the IRB Supreme Council, which had gotten the idea from Bulmer Hobson … and which appointed Hobson to join the founders of the Fianna in order to keep it under IRB control.”

Some members wore kilts with double-breasted dark green tunics, but senior officers wore breeches and leggings. Their headdress was the Baden-Powell scout hat.

They shared a motto with St Enda’s:

“Strength in our arms, truth on our lips, purity in our hearts”

Patrick Pearse said in February 1914:

“We believe that Fianna na hÉireann has kept the military spirit alive in Ireland over the past four years, and that if the Fianna had not been founded in 1909 [in Dublin], the Volunteers of 1913 would never have arisen.”

Key Dates / Actions

  • The Fianna played an active part during the 1913 Lockout
    • A Fianna officer, Patsy O’Connor, died after being struck on the head by a Dublin Metropolitan Police baton while giving first aid to an injured man.
  • Sunday 26 July 1914
    • Members of Na Fianna Éireann help to unload and distribute the arms being landed from the Asgard at Howth, Co Dublin.
  • 1916 Rising
  • The Fianna was represented at all the garrisons that were involved in the fighting of the 1916 Easter Rising. Even though they were by then more involved with the Irish Volunteers, Seán Heuston and Con Colbert were still regarded as Fianna members.
    • Heuston was given the task of commanding the Mendicity Institution
    • Colbert was under the command of Éamonn Ceannt at Watkins Brewery
    • Heuston and Colbert both were executed for their part in the Rising
  • After the provisional government abandoned the GPO and set up HQ at Moore St, James Connolly gave command of the GPO to Seán McLoughlin, a Fianna officer.
    • His orders were to oversee the safe retreat of the rest of the occupants
  • Several of the Fianna were killed during the Rising.
    • Seán Healy was shot dead at Phibsboro while delivering despatches
    • Seán Howard and Seán Ryan also died in a similar fashion
  • Post-1916 Rising
  • The Fianna was first to re-organise after the Easter Rising of 1916. A provisional governing committee was set up in Dublin in May 1916, including Eamon Martin, Seamus Pounch, Theo Fitzgerald, Liam Staines, and Joe Reynolds.
    • All had evaded the round-up after the Rising
    • This committee functioned until January 1917, when it handed over command to the newly released senior officers
  • War of Independence
  • During the “Black & Tan War”, Fianna members featured prominently in every brigade area. Some lost their lives or were imprisoned.
    • During the Truce, the Fianna continued to train officers and volunteers
      • At least 3 full-time training camps were set up to train potential officers.
      • One of these camps was held at Kilmore Road, Artane
      • Another was held at Kilmashogue Mountain, in south Co Dublin
  • The Civil War
  • Before the Civil War broke out, the Fianna held discussions all over the country
    • They debated the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty
    • Fianna Éireann rejected the Treaty and called for all to still work for a Republic
  • They played a major part in the civil war fighting, especially in Dublin
    • In August 1922, the Fianna sustained a heavy blow when two of their senior officers in Dublin, Seán Cole and Alf Colley, were shot dead by Free State Army Intelligence members at The Thatch, Whitehall.
    • Over 400 officers and boys of the Fianna had taken part in the Dublin fighting
      • By October of that year, the only active members were in an ASU of eight members led by Frank Sherwin
      • The Fianna ceased to function as an open organisation by Christmas 1922

Na Fianna hÉireann Medal

A committee was sent up by GHQ in 1958 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fianna’s founding. Chief Scout Jimmy Cruise headed this body and it was decided to hold a camp in central Ireland for all Fianna sluaithe.

  • The Patrician Brothers, Ballyfin, Co Laois, hosted this camp in August 1959
  • Only about 100 Fianna members attended the camp

On the 16th of August 1959 a medal was issued to commemorate their 50th anniversary.

  • The medal was issued by Na Fianna to mark the anniversary and has no connection with either the 1916 Rising or The War of Independence and was issued to or bought by serving or ex-Fianna members.
  • Some medals may have been issued to ex-Fianna members who served in the Rising and/or the War of Independence but, since the medals were issued un-named, it is not possible to identify these unless accompanied by supporting evidence

According to the Fianna handbook the sunburst on the medal is a symbol of our forefathers’ never-ending fight against foreign oppression.

  • There are fifteen points on the sunburst, twelve represent the Code of Honour and the other three the Fianna Motto.
  • The pike across the middle of the badge symbolises the victories and defeats that Ireland has suffered in its long fight for freedom.
  • The name “Fianna Eireann” on the badge means “Soldiery of Ireland”.

Rarity

The medal was launched in 1960 to mark the recent Golden Jubilee of the organisation and the following report appeared in the Irish Press on May 6th 1960:

“The heroic part played by Fianna Eireann in the War of Independence will be recalled in Clery’s restaurant in Dublin on Monday Night (May 9th), when Golden Jubilee medals will be presented to Fianna veterans.

According to the original press releases:
The only people entitled to receive a medal are those holding registered certificates of service.
About 1,000 people hold these certificates

Medal for Sale

The medal shown below is for sale.
    • I’ve seen a lot of fakes and reproductions on eBay and Adverts.ie recently but these are usually easy to detect.
      • Adams withdrew one from one of their auctions a few years back
    • Of the two examples I saw at the RDS Coin & Medal Fair recently, both had faults/repairs/replacement parts
      • There was a third one at the RDS but it as a fake (and the dealer in question was quick to say that he “suspected” it was a modern fake)
      • It was not for sale and he asked me for my opinion on it
    • So the one I have for sale is particularly desirable, i.e. 100% original.The ribbon is original (with signs of wear) and the medal (overall) is 100% genuine.
    • It also has the original clasp at the top of the ribbon and all other parts are original, i.e. no repairs/replacements.

This makes this medal one of the more difficult pieces to obtain.

  • I now have a number of bids on it
  • The closing date for bids is 14th December 2016
  • This is a final call for bids
Na Fianna Eireann Medal, Bulmer Hobson, Markievicz, Dublin 1916 Rising

Na Fianna Eireann Medal – one of the scarcest Irish medals

Price Guide

These medals rarely come up for sale and the price fluctuates wildly at auction
– only 8 offered at reputable auction houses over the past 10 years !

  • Mealys (????) Lot ? sold for €1,500, plus buyers premium, plus VAT on the premium
    • Purchase Price = €1,869.00
  • Whytes (2006) Lot 86 sold for €2,200, plus buyers premium, plus VAT on the premium – reg. envelope to recipient
    • Purchase Price = €2,749.86
  • Whytes (2008) Lot 281 Sold for €5,800, plus buyers premium, plus VAT on the premium – service cert. + commem. booklet
    • Purchase Price = €7,249.63
  • Mealys (2009) Lot ? sold for € ?, plus buyers premium, plus VAT on the premium – no ribbon
    • Purchase Price = ?
  • Adams (2009) Lot 321 sold for €1,300, plus buyers premium, plus VAT on the premium – boxed
    • Purchase Price = €1,619.80
  • Adams (2011) Lot 97 sold for €800, plus buyers premium, plus VAT on the premium
    • Purchase Price = €996.80
  • Adams (2013) Lot 156 sold for €1,000, plus buyers premium, plus VAT on the premium
    • Purchase Price = €1,246.00
  • eBay (2016) Lot #112184809024 sold for €450 – suspect medal + no clasp, replacement ribbon + wrong medal ring

    • Purchase Price = €450.00
  • Mealys (2016) Lot 278 not sold – no ribbon
You can bid by contacting me at old.currency.exchange@gmail.com
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