Thomas Patrick Ashe








Thomas Patrick Ashe (Irish name: Tomás Pádraig Ághas; was born on 12th January 1885 and died on 25th September 1917) Thomas Ashe was born in the small village of Lispole, On the road to Dingle from Tralee.

Ashe was a teacher and a member of the Gaelic League, Though apolitical, the league attracted many Irish nationalists of different persuasions, much like the Gaelic Athletic Association. It was through the League that many future political leaders and rebels first met, laying the foundation for groups such as the Irish Volunteers (1913).

However, the League did not commit itself entirely to the national movement until 1915, causing the resignation of Douglas Hyde, who felt that the culture of language should be above politics. Most of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation were members.

Commanding the Fingal battalion of the Irish Volunteers, Ashe took part in the Easter Risin of 1916. Ashe's force of 60-70 men engaged British forces around north County Dublin during the rising. The battalion won a major victory in Ashbourne, County Meath where they engaged a much larger force capturing a significant quantity of arms and up to 20 Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) vehicles. 24 hours after the rising collapsed, Ashe's battalion surrendered on the orders of Padraig Pearse.

On 8 May 1917, Ashe and Eamon de Valera were court-martialled and both were sentenced to death. The sentences were commuted to penal servitude for life. Ashe was imprisoned in Lewes Gaol in England.

With the entry of the USA into World War 1 in April 1917, the British government was put under more pressure to solve the 'Irish problem', de Valera, Ashe and Thomas Hunter led a prisoner hunger strike on 28 May 1917 to add to this pressure. With accounts of prison mistreatment appearing in the Irish press and mounting protests in Ireland, Ashe and the remaining prisoners were freed on 18 June 1917 by Lloyd George as part of a general amnesty.

Upon release, Ashe returned to Ireland and began a series of speaking engagements.

In August 1917, Ashe was arrested and charged with sedition for a speech that he made in Ballinalee, County Longford where Michael Collins had also been speaking. He was detained at the Curragh but was then transferred to Mountjoy Prison in Dublin. He was convicted and sentenced to two years hard labour. Ashe and other prisoners, including Austin Stack, demanded prisoner of war status as this protest evolved Ashe again went on hunger strike on 20 September 1917. On 25 September 1917, he died at the Mater Hospital after being force-fed by prison authorities.

The gravestone of Thomas Ashe, Peadar Kearney and Piaras Beaslai at Glasnevin Cemetery.

Ashe's death had a significant impact on the country increasing Republican recruitment, his body lay in state at Dublin City Hall, and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetry in Dublin.



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