(c) 2016 Mount Merrion Historical Society
General Eoin O'Duffy (Mount Merrion Resident)
By DES SMYTH / Posted: January 8, 2020
Eoin O ‘Duffy was the youngest of seven children born to Owen and Bridget Duffy on their 17-acre farm near Lough Egish in Co. Monaghan on Oct 20th 1892. A good student he became a surveyor with the County Council at age 19.
Deeply involved in County and Provincial GAA he was elected Count Board Secretary at age 20 and Provincial Secretary the following year, a position he held for 10 years, followed by 13 years as Treasurer of the Ulster GAA. During that time, he founded the National Athletics and Cycling Association (NACA).
Having joined the IRA as a teenager he rose thru the ranks to become Brigadier in 1919, when he was regarded by Michael Collins as “The best man in Ulster”. Early in 1922 he became Chief of Staff of the National Army and later that year he was appointed Commissioner of the newly formed Garda Siochána with the instructions to bring discipline to the force.
He found time to be elected Sinn Féin TD for Monaghan in both 1921 and 1922 elections. In 1933 he was instrumental in bringing three splinter groups together to form FINE GAEL as a political Party. By then his star was beginning to wane, he was a divisive influence within FG and when Fianna Fáil won the General Election in 1933 he was sacked as Commissioner of the Gardai. He resigned from Fine Gael in 1934, nobody cried.
He was not idle for long and within months had formed the ‘National Guard’ based on an organisation favoured by Mussolini in Italy, their uniform gave them their moniker ‘Blueshirts’. His admiration for Mussolini resulted in he offering to send 1000 troops to fight alongside the Italian Army in Ethiopia in the ‘Christians against the Barbarians’ conflict. The offer was rejected.
In June 1935 he formed the National Corporate Party, recruited many of his old BLUESHIRT followers and in 1936 he brought a 700 strong Brigade to fight with Franco in the Spanish Civil War. They were a motley, badly trained and badly led group and a few months later Franco sent them home.
That also appears to be the time he bought the newly built 44 Greygates, Mount Merrion from Builder/Developer John Kenny. That house was to be his home possibly until he entered a nursing home in Pembroke Park in 1944.
During the war he renewed his contacts with Fascist groups and introduced Hermann Goertz and German Diplomat Hennus Thomsen to Irish Army General Hugo McNeill to discuss a possible alliance in the event of a British invasion of Ireland during WW2.
His health deteriorated during 1943/44 and he died on November 30th 1944.