Sunday 23 October 2016

A cup of tea helped Collins' pal Foley avoid a sniper's bullet

Rebel stories

Michael Foley
Michael Foley

Michael P Foley was born in Edenderry in 1893.

Growing up he showed promise as an artist but left Co Offaly for Dublin in 1912 to seek employment.

At the time of The Rising he was working as a barman in O'Byrne's pub on Talbot Street. At noon on Easter Monday he walked from his place of work to report for duty at the GPO.

A member of the Irish Volunteers, Michael had joined D Company, 2nd Battalion, Dublin Brigade, and was attached to the GPO garrison under commanding officer The O'Rahilly.

He was assigned to serve with men from Maynooth including Domhnall Ua Buachalla, who would later serve as Ireland's last Governor General.

One incident Michael later spoke of occurred two days later, when he was relieved from duty at a window position, to get a cup of tea, by Capt Thomas Weafer. A few minutes later he was told that Weafer had been shot by an enemy sniper.


After remaining at the GPO during the week Michael followed O'Rahilly during the evacuation on Friday.

He later saw The O'Rahilly fall mortally wounded on Sackville Lane.

Following the surrender Michael was captured and interned in Knutsford Prison, Wormsford Scrubs, and Frongoch interment camp.

Michael's family was later sent a letter from Michael Collins in Frongoch saying he had taken Michael under his wing and would look after him.

The close association between the two men later led Foley to work undercover and report directly to Collins in the War of Independence.

After his release from Frongoch Michael returned to Edenderry to organize the IRA there. He married and had a son.

He later worked as a member of the clerical staff in the Four Courts.

Michael Foley died in July 1960.

Details submitted by Gerry Foley (nephew)

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