REPUBLIC WITHOUT GOVERNMENT
ON 29th June Liam Lynch set up temporary headquarters at Mallow. He issued a statement to the effect that from the day he had “taken up duty” as Chief of Staff. This action, taken while McKelvey was still fighting in the Four Courts, was a plain indication that Dublin was not to be relieved.1 The position of Adjutant-General had been held by Florence O’Donoghue who resigned after the failure of negotiations with Mulcahy. The Executive replaced him with Tom Derrig, who was still at liberty. Lynch seems to have wanted his own men round him. He approached Con Molony, who had signified his intention of retiring from public life, and persuaded him to accept the position. He filled the post creditably and Derrig was happy to serve as his assistant. These preliminaries completed, Lynch moved his headquarters to Limerick, where Deasy and Molony joined him.
At this time, 1st July, Republicans held the whole area south of a line drawn from Waterford to Limerick. The small pro-Treaty enclaves at Listowel and Skibbereen were speedily mopped up. Dublin was still fighting. The South Dublin Brigade together with Robinson’s Tipperary men were moving on Blessington only twenty miles outside the city and drawing Provisional Government forces from Kilkenny. The Republicans had an advantage in numbers that was never to recur, especially since the attack on the Four Courts had revolted public opinion. Yet at this time Lynch yielded to the appeals of the Mayor of Limerick and sent Deasy to negotiate with Brcnnan and O’Hannigan, officers commanding the Provisional Government forces in that city.
His motive has been the subject of much discussion. His biographer, Florence O’Donoghue,2 held that both sides “still hoped that by limiting the area of conflict some solution of the whole Army problem could yet be found”. Con Molony spoke of immobilising 3,000 Provisional Government troops while reinforcements were sent to the
1 On 16th October Lynch spoke of the hostilities that broke out in Limerick, and implied that they had held up an intended advance on Dublin. But Dublin was out of the conflict before battle was joined in Limerick, and Lynch was already hard-pressed. Possibly he was rationalising his early policy in the light of experience.
2No Other Law, p. 203.