Wednesday 10 April 2019

William Thomas Langley was born on 23 Jan 1888 in Sydney, Australia. He returned to Ireland with his parents at the age of four and settled in Tuam, Co. Galway.

A quiet unassuming man who had a passion for the culture, language and heritage of Ireland.  He was involved in The Gaelic League, a member of The IRB, Fianna Eireann, and The Irish Volunteers.  He participated in the 1916 Rising, The War of Independence and The Civil War. Liam spent time in prison in 1916/17 and was interned in 1922/23. 

Like many others who helped to make and shape the Ireland of today his story remains untold.  He was one of the unsung heroes of the era.  This is an attempt to tell some of his story, as we know it now and as it becomes clearer in time. It is an evolving story.  Sources of information relating to Liam include his own account of the era though the stories he told his family, his personal letters, documents and photographs, accounts from the Witness Statements of the Bureau of Military History, information held in the National Archives (including Dublin Metropolitan Police 1915/1916), and the National Library; and finally records held in the various prisons where he was detained. This is an attempt to salute the man and to acknowledge his involvement  in the turbulent era and in its aftermath.

Click on the tabs above to find out more about Liam Langley

Scroll below for artifacts, photos and general information relating to Liam Langley

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Thursday 12 October 2017

Extract from Ernie O'Malley Interview with Liam Langley

During the period 1948-1951Ernie O’Malley conducted interviews with around 400 of his former colleagues from the revolutionary period concerning their experiences during the time. The handwritten transcripts of these interviews are contained in 53 notebooks which are held in the UCD achives.  Liam Langley gave a number of interviews to O’Malley, the following is an extract from one of the interviews.  It is concerned with imprisonment post 1916.
Galway Jail Record

‘In 1916  in Richmond Barracks  I met Austin and Terry Mac.  Austin Stack was in another room.  He was terribly worried about the the volunteers, Con Keating, Daniel Sheehan and Charlie Monahan who had been drowned in the car in KerryDesmond Fitzgerald was also there he  was well dressed.  He was complaining about the untidy condition of the Galway men and about their being uncouth, but Liam Mellows had already warned me of what to expect from Desmond Fitzgerald.  Joe Mac Bride I met there, and we became good friends, we went to Wakefield together. For a week we had free association, but 4 of us were picked out and were put into solitary confinement in a basement in another wing of the goal.  Conor Deere of Goulds Cross Clonoulty Tipperary, Joe MacBride, Terry Mac Sweeney and myself.

Monday 11 July 2016

Athenry Farming and Country Life 1916 Commemoration

Banners made by Anne Tierney President
Old Tuam Society for their display at the
Athenry Farming and Country Life 1916 Commemoration event.

Friday 24 June 2016


Liam was interned in Frongoch as members of the United Irish League Tuam were seeking support to have him released at home. A report in the Tuam Herald July 1st 1916, describes how, at a meeting of the  League, held on Sunday 24th June 1916, members passed a motion seeking an amnesty for Liam and pressing on the League to put pressure on their local MP Mr Hazleton to help get him released.                
Extract Tuam Herald Article 1 July 1916
        Of concern was the fact that his mother, a widow, was now on her own as her only child was now locked up in England .Despite professing that Liam Langley had no part in the activities of the 1916 maneuvers in Tuam, many of the men present were members of the Irish Volunteers and had drilled and trained with Liam on the run up to the Rising. The Connacht Tribune also ran a similar article on the same date and described Liam Langley as a 'most respectable and decent young gentleman'.  District Inspector Comerford is the RIC inspector who, along with three others, arrested Liam at him home at 4.30am May 8th 1916.

Interestingly Mr Hazleton M.P. had been dispatched to Tuam in November 1914, in an unsuccessful attempt, to try to persuade the Irish Volunteers to abandon their position and support Redmond's National Volunteers.

The efforts of the United Irish League Tuam were not successful, Liam was removed to Reading Jail 11th July 1916 and released 24th December 1916.

     Connacht Tribune Article July 1st 1916

    Tuam Herald Article July 1st 1916

Thursday 2 June 2016

Prisoners Deported to England June 2nd 1916

Along with 198 others Liam Langley was shipped on a cattle boat to England where he was sent to Wakefield Prison.  Below is the list of prisoners who were deported on that day.  He is listed as W.T. Langley.  Liam was kept in solitary confinement during his time in Wakefield as were Joseph McBride and Terence MacSweeney.  Both men were later sent to Reading with Liam.  McBride, a native of Mayo,  was brother of Major MacBride executed 5 May 1916.  McSweeney died on the 74th day of hunger strike in Brixton Prison, he was being force fed at the time. 

Also included in the list are the Newell brothers of Claregalway who were active in Athenry 1916.

Saturday 14 May 2016

Postcard from Richmond Barracks May 14 1916

Liam Langley was arrested at 4.30am on Monday May 8th 1916 in his home in Tuam.  He was transferred to Richmond Barracks Dublin on Friday 12 May.  This is a postcard he wrote on Sunday 14 May 1916 to his mother, Margaret, a widow, left on her own  in Tuam following her son's arrest. 

The contents of the card are very interesting as Langley makes many references to his fellow comrades from Tuam and Galway telling his mother what has happened to them.  His reference to the 'sea side' is alluding to the Volunteers who were arrested around Galway and held on the British ship HMS Gloucester which was moored in Galway Bay during East Week 1916.  


Wm. T. Langley (of Tuam)
C/O Officer I/C Prisoners
Richmond Barracks

Dear Mother

Got here on Friday, things looking brighter. Asquith and Redmond here yesterday, so we are now allowed to write and receive letters and parcels addressed as above. P Dunleavy* here, yet Joe C (Cummins)* sent to England, no news of J Forde I met ??? brother from Clonmel and I see a brother of P. O’Daly** has been deported.  An officer came and said we would be allowed legal aid, so I gave him Mr H Concannon’s name, and he has been written to and may be tried on Wednesday next.  It looks as if a Good Home Rule Bill is only a question of days.  You might send me a collar & tie. How is everybody in Tuam?  Have any more been taken to the seaside? We got Mass at 11 today in the Barrack Square. Things are much better than in Galway Prison and the officers and men are as nice as can be expected.  Several men let home today.  So hope on. With best love I am yours 
                                                             Sunday 14 May 1916

*Patrick Dunleavy and Joseph Cummins were both arrested on in the early hours of Easter Wednesday morning as the Tuam volunteers were making their way to Athenry.  
John Forde (later Sean)  was born in Tuam, friend and comrade of Liam. A member of Fianna Eireann and the Irish Volunteers Forde was active in Dublin during the 1916 Rising, 

**P. O'Daly (Paddy or Patrick) spent time in Tuam 1913/14. Fought under Ned Daly in 1916. Interned in Frongoch. Later became leader of Michael Collin's Squad and Major General Irish National Army 1922-24.

Saturday 7 May 2016

Liam Langley Arrest Following Easter Rising - Tuam May 8th 1916

"Sensational Arrest at Tuam" - Western People Newspaper, 13th May 1916

Western People Newspaper 13 May 1916

On Saturday 29 April, five days after the rising in Galway had begun, the remaining 350 men in Limepark were advised to return to their homes protecting themselves as best they could as they went.  Liam  Langley remained in Limepark with Mellows to ensure he got out safely.  Langley points out that Mellows and his men's escape was made possible as a result of the activities of Langley and his men in Tuam. Their presence and activities kept extra Police in the Tuam area who would otherwise have been sent to intercept the late Liam Mellows and his men (Langley written account).  At  4.30am on Sunday 7th May the Langley home surrounded by R.I.C men they arrested Liam and his mother Margaret.  Guns, ammunition and Sein Fein documents were confiscated in the raid. Both were brought to Galway for questioning, Margaret Langley was released and Liam taken into custody. (Note: police records show date of arrest as May 7th).

Liam's own account of arrest and internment.  
Liam added in writing 'my revolver and some ammunition taken at the same time

From  Galway Jail. he was moved to Dublin  He arrived in Richmond Barracks Dublin on Friday 12 May 1916 (as per Postcard written to his mother from Richmond Barracks).  On June 1st he was marched to the quays with many other prisoners, there they were loaded on cattle boats and shipped to England. They were then sent to various prosons across England.

Liam Langley’s next  destination was Wakefield prison where he arrived on June 2nd 1916 (Records).  In Wakefield Langley was kept in solitary confinement with Terence McSweeney and John McBride.  He was kept apart from the other prisoners when being sent to Frongoch (Langley written account).  On the 11 July Liam was moved to Reading Prison where he was interned under the Defence of Realm Act (Prison Record:Ref:P/RP1/1/9) . Reading was the prison of internment to between thirty and forty men who were considered by the authorities to be the leaders and extremists of The Rising of Easter Week 1916; they thus required more supervision than other prisoners (Murphy, M., 2014, Political Imprisonment and the Irish 1912-2; Eamon Morkan, WS411).  In Reading Liam Langley was interned with people such as: Ernest Blythe, Arthur Griffith, P.T. Daly, an old Fenian organiser; Thomas McCurtain, Terry MacSwiney, Seamus Robinson, Tom Craven, Frank Burke, Darrel Figgis, George Nicholls (Solicitor, Galway & IRB Centre, Galway), Sean Milroy, Peadar, O’Hanrachan, Alderman Cole of Dublin, William O’Brien, Alfie Cotton, Dennis McCullough, Pierce McCann, Hertbert Moore Pim, Michael Brennan, Eamon O’Dwyer, Joe Robinson, Dr Dundon, Henry Dixon, Ginger O’Donnell, Sean T. O’Kelly and Peadar O’Hannrachan (Blythe, WS939).  Liam organised Irish languages classes in Reading for the Internees.  He also became involved in planning the next stage of the fight for Irish freedom.   Liam was released on 24 December 1916 under a general amnesty. 

Sunday 24 April 2016


It is easy to forget that all around the country in small towns and villages Volunteers had drilled and practised for a Rebellion for more than two years.  The Volunteers in Tuam were no different, despite a depleted group following the ‘split’ and not having a great deal of local support the Tuam Volunteers still came out for manoeuvres during Easter Week 1916. MacNeill’s countermanding added confusion to the situation, communication difficulties and surveillance by the R.I.C. forced the Tuam Volunteers to disband at daybreak Wednesday 26th April 1916.  The following is an account of their activities and Liam Langley’s involvement during that week.

Barney Mellows, Gary Holohan, Sean Heuston, Liam Langley

The situation in Galway was no different to that in the rest of the country in the week prior
to Easter Sunday.  Rumours were rife that something was happening although no firm word was coming through as to what exactly the plans were. Dispatches crisscrossed the country with messages and instructions. .  One courier to arrive in Athenry was Margaret Brown (later Mrs Sean McEntee) who came on Holy Thursday with a dispatch from Sean MacDiarmada (WS322).  Witness statements suggest that the plan was to take control of local RIC barracks and to use the captured weapons in any ensuing military action.

According to John Hosty’s statement there was confusion over the order, a meeting was held of commandants and captains of the Irish Volunteers (all were also IRB members) to decide what to do, Liam Langley (Centre, IRB Circle North Galway, O/C Tuam Company, Galway Brigade IV, VP Na Fianna √Čireann)  was in attendance. John Hosty was dispatched to Dublin on the mail train at midnight to see Eoin MacNeill (Irish Volunteers) and confirm whether the order was genuine or not. However George Nichols (Solicitor and IRB Centre Galway) secretly requested Hosty to go straight to Pearse and advise him what was happening in Galway and get clear instruction as to how to proceed (IRB) (Hosty, WS373). However by Saturday night most battalions in Galway were aware that they were being called out for major muster on Easter Sunday.  
Eoin MacNeill’s subsequent countermanding on Holy Saturday night put a stop to activities. His message was published in the national papers on Easter Sunday morning, it read, ‘all parades of Volunteers arranged for the weekend were cancelled’.  On Saturday evening/night dispatches were also sent around the country by McNeill with the order.  McNeill’s order led to confusion and uncertainty in Galway, Tuam and around the country in general (Dunleavy, WS1489).    

Wednesday 13 April 2016

Irish Volunteers Tuam 1914

Tuam Battalion Irish Volunteers drilling in Parkmore Tuam 1914 under
S. Shaughnessy & P. Flanagan

Liam Langley left almost at end of the line with 'straw hat'

Handwritten caption by Liam Langley

Friday 11 March 2016

Liam Langley Released from Reading Jail Christmas 1916

On Christmas Day 1916 Liam Langley and fellow prisoners from Reading Jail arrived in Kingstown Harbour (Dun Laoghaire).  Liam and the internees from the West did not make it home in time for Christmas Day.  This was hard on Liam's mother, a widow with an only child and now on her own in Tuam for Christmas.

The Irish Independent of 26 December 1916 reported that during the three weeks before their release many of the prisoners had been unwell suffering from flu like symptoms. 

The men were only told on Sunday afternoon, Christmas Eve, between 2 and 3pm, that their release was imminent, until this time they had no idea of what was coming. They had expected to spend Christmas in prison and had prepared for this event.  Once news came through of their release they wasted no time and packed up their few belongings.

Buses brought the prisoners to Paddington Station, London,  a journey today of just over an hour, but in 1916 it probably took almost two hours by bus. Here, they changed bus and then headed across London to Euston Station.  Shortly before 8pm they left Euston Station by train and made the 3am sailing from Holyhead, arriving in Kingstown, Dublin at 6.30am.  They then boarded a train to Westland Row station where large numbers of people turned up to greet them.  

Many well known prisoners were released in this group along with Liam Langley, these included: Sean T. O’Kelly, T.C.; P.T. Daly, T.C.; Arthur Griffith; Henry Dixon; Padraig O’Maille, Connemara; Ex-Ald. W. Cole; Peter M. Sweeney, Loughrea; Albert Cotton, Belfast; Terence McSwiney, Cork; , Joseph McBride, Mayo; Capt Morkan; George Nicholls, Galway; Cathal O’Shannon, Belfast; Darell Figgis, Achill; Ernest Blythe, Belfast; John J. Scollan, Dublin; Sean Milroy, Dublin; Seamus Reader Robinson, Glasgow; Seamus Robinson, Dublin; and Joseph R. Robinson, Glasgow.                                                                 

Crowds at Westland Row Railway station welcoming home the internees                                           Christmas 1916. Photo National Library of Ireland               

Irish Examiner 27 Dec 1916