On this episode of the Irish History Show we were joined by Gerard Shannon to discuss Seán Russell, the former Chief of Staff of the IRA. Russell continues to be a deeply controversial and divisive figure to the present day and his statue in Fairview Park, near Dublin’s city centre, has been frequently vandalised, and at one stage decapitated.
Russell joined the Irish Volunteers in 1913 and fought in the Easter Rising. After being interned in Frongoch, he fought in the War of Independence, rising to become IRA Director of Munitions in 1920. He fought with the Anti – Treaty IRA in the Civil War and was interned by the new Irish government. He remained with IRA after his release and became Quarter Master General.
It was his actions during the Second World War that would lead to his continuing notoriety. As chief of staff he oversaw the ill fated bombing campaign in British cities in 1939. In 1940, following a tour of the United States, he travelled to Genoa and then onto Berlin where he held discussions with German military intelligence and received explosives training with the Abwehr.
As he was travelling back to Ireland aboard a German U – Boat he suffered a burst stomach ulcer and died.
Gerard Shannon is a historian from Skerries in Co. Dublin and a graduate of the School of History and Geography in DCU. He is currently working on a biography of the IRA Chief of Staff during the Civil War, Liam Lynch for Merrion Press. You can find his website at gerardshannon.com
Gerard has written two articles on Russell for the Irish Story website which are available here: https://www.theirishstory.com/2020/07/02/the-only-irishman-that-was-incorruptible-sean-russell-and-the-ira-part-one-1893-1930/#.YL_5tvlKjIU
Intro / Outro music “Sliabh” from Aislinn. Licensed under creative commons from the free music archive.
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