‘Forgotten’ IRA volunteer executed during War of Independence commemorated on Henrietta St

Plaque erected to Thomas Bryan, great-uncle of the singer Boy George, executed over a Drumcondra ambush

For nearly 80 years Thomas Bryan was part of what became known as the “Forgotten 10″ of IRA volunteers who were executed by the British during the War of Independence.

With the exception of Kevin Barry, who was far from forgotten, the others were known only to those close to them.

That changed in 2001 when Bryan and the others were afforded a full state funeral through the streets of Dublin.

Since then the name of Bryan has become better known through an unlikely source – the singer Boy George, real name George O’Dowd, who resurrected the name during a BBC Who Do You Think You Are? programme in 2018.


Bryan was married to Boy George’s great-aunt Annie Glynn. He was executed on March 14th, 1921 for his part in an attempted ambush in Drumcondra, Dublin.

Glynn was pregnant when her husband was arrested and her baby died just four days before he was executed.

Bryan was executed along with three other men, Patrick Doyle (29); Francis Xavier Flood (19) and Bernard ‘Bertie’ Ryan (21). They were all hanged in Mountjoy Prison and buried for 80 years in the grounds of the prison.

Henrietta Street was a notorious tenement slum and Bryan was living in extreme poverty when he died.

It is now the site of the Tenement Museum at No.14 which is coincidentally where Bryan also grew up.

Bryan’s military pension file reveals a tale of poverty and desperation which continued long after his execution.

Glynn is described in the files as a “frail and delicate-looking woman who appears to be in poor circumstances”.

While he was alive, her husband handed over his entire weeks wages as an electrical engineer “with the exception of a few shillings which he retained for cigarettes etc”.

She had been wholly dependent on him and after his death was dependent on the support of the White Cross which provided financial assistance to many republican families.

Tragically, Glynn did not live long after that. She died in 1930 aged just 30. The cause of death is given as heart failure caused by phthisis (acute tuberculosis). The State paid her funeral expenses which were £21.6.0.

The family were described in 1928 as being “absolutely in want”, in poor health and had pawned everything with the exception of their bed to survive. Bryan’s father James suffered from rheumatic gout; his wife Mary from rheumatism and bronchial troubles.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin Caroline Conroy unveiled the plaque and spoke of the sacrifices of men like Bryan in the War of Independence.

“They left behind grieving families who, certainly in the case of Thomas Bryan, had also to face the very real poverty that afflicted many Dubliners of the time,” she said.

Historian Fergus Whelan reminded those present that not only were the Forgotten 10, with the exception of Kevin Barry, forgotten about their families were “denied a chance to bury their dead and a grave to grieve over for eighty years”.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times