He was the charismatic revolutionary who inspired loyalty in his men and was prepared to take a back seat when necessary. In this entry from the Royal Irish Academy's Dictionary of Irish Biography, Pauric J. Dempsey tells the story of Peadar Clancy

Peadar Clancy (1886–1920), revolutionary, was born Peter Clancy in the family home at Carrowreagh East, Cranny, Co. Clare, youngest in the large family of James Clancy and Mary Clancy (née Keane). Educated at Cranny national school (1893–1902) he was apprenticed to a draper, Dan Moloney of Kildysart, and during his time there started a branch of the Gaelic League.

He later worked in Newcastlewest, Co. Limerick, and for three years in Youghal, Co. Cork, before arriving in Dublin (1913) to work in Harkin's general drapery at 70A New St. Later he and Tom Hunter became partners in the Republican Outfitters at 94 Talbot St., Dublin, which was destroyed by British forces in 1920.

Clancy's 1916 mugshot, taken at Richmond Barracks. Image courtesy of  Kilmainham Gaol Museum/OPW 17PO-1A22-20

Irish Volunteer

A member of the Irish Volunteers from their foundation in 1913 and subsequently a member of the IRB, he was court-martialled and sentenced to death for his part in the 1916 rising. The sentence was commuted to ten years penal servitude, part of which he served in Portland and Lewes jails.

Éamon de Valera canvassing in 1917. Peadar Clancy withdrew from the campaign in De Valera's favour and campaigned for him

Following the amnesty of 1917 he helped in the reorganisation of the Volunteers in Dublin and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. Chosen by a Clare Sinn Féin committee to contest the 1917 Clare East by-election, he withdrew in favour of Éamon de Valera and campaigned on his behalf.

Vice-commandant of the Dublin Brigade, IRA, and an important member of the headquarters staff concerned with engineering issues, he specialised in prison escapes and rescued nineteen prisoners from Mountjoy prison and five from Manchester prison.

Working with the 'Squad'

A key player in the plans of Michael Collins, he was to the fore in the operations of 'the Squad' and the Dublin Brigade active service unit. A man of unusual resolve and ability, he was the guiding force in the Mountjoy hunger strike of April 1920, doggedly refusing all concessions except release, which came after ten days.

Clancy's fellow hunger striker, C.S. "Todd" Andrews, who was very impressed by his comrade. Image" RTE Archives

One of the other hunger strikers was C. S. Andrews who wrote that Clancy left on him

'an indelible impression of the superman, a man whose commands I at least would have had a compulsion to obey as if I had been hypnotised'.

Clancy captured

On 20 November 1920, the night before Bloody Sunday, Clancy and Dick McKee  were captured by the Auxiliaries, with the help of the informant James ‘Shankers’ Ryan, at their hideout at Gloucester St., Dublin. They had already set in motion their plan to eliminate the principal British intelligence agents in Dublin, and the following day fourteen suspected agents were shot dead.

Clancy and McKee were shot by Auxiliaries in Dublin castle on 21 November 1920 – the official explanation was that they had been trying to escape. Claims that they had also been severely tortured and mutilated appear to have been exaggerated.

Clancy was unmarried and left estate valued at £108. There is a monument to his memory at Kildysart, Co. Clare.

The Dictionary of Irish Biography is Ireland's national biographical dictionary. Devised, researched, written and edited under the auspices of the Royal Irish Academy, its online edition covers nearly 11,000 lives. Read more about Dictionary of Irish Biography

SOURCES" Charles Dalton, With the Dublin Brigade (1929); Desmond Ryan, Sean Tracey and the Third Tipperary Brigade (1945); The Kerryman, Dublin's fighting story (1947); Desmond Ryan, The rising (1949); Frank Gallagher, The four glorious years (1953); James Gleeson, Bloody Sunday (1962); Sean Ó Luing, I die in a good cause (1970); K. J. Browne, They died on Bloody Sunday (1970); Dan Breen, My fight for Irish freedom (1981 ed.); Tim Pat Coogan, Michael Collins (1991); C. S. Andrews, Dublin made me (2001 ed.; first published 1979); Seán Spellissy, A history of County Clare (2003); information from Mr Pat Shannon (grand-nephew)