Leo Dowling 08.01.1923

A tribute left on a Dublin street to Leo Dowling, executed by the Irish Free State forces on the 8th of January 1923
A tribute left on a Dublin street to Leo Dowling, executed by the Irish Free State forces on the 8th of January 1923 (Íomhá: Broadsheet.ie)

The background to the execution by firing squad of Leo Dowling, carried out by the Irish Free State regime in January 1923.



  1. I can rationalise British executions ( for reasons such as they were insurgents, empire at war etc ) as long as ireland remained under the British.
    After the hand-over I can neither account for, explain nor justify the execution of Liam Mellowes and other prisoners – except by implementation of a Stalin-like policy. A cui bono?

  2. “We preferred to burn our homes, blow up our bridges, rob our banks and saddle ourselves with millions of debt … and now we wonder why the Orangemen are not hopping over the border like fleas to come under our jurisdiction. ”

    Kevin O’Higgins

  3. That was the fight of those wanting all of their country to be free against those who “settled” for less. No war worse than that among brothers. Agus… no one wants the orangemen, not even the British. Fleas is a bad comparison, as fleas and other vermin are much preferred over any orangeman.

    1. And the best way to free your country from the Brits is to shoot as many Irish as possible.

      LOL @ republican logic.

      1. I think you’ll find that it was the Free State junta that was doing the shooting of Irish men. 77 in fact by firing squad and hundreds more during the conflict itself (including by landmine).

        1. The Irregulars murdered hundreds of Protestant civilians and Catholic ex servicemen, robbed banks, killed bank managers and Garda officers, extorted money from shopkeepers, burned down creameries, blew up roads and bridges, and generally tried to wreck the country.

          1. “Irregulars murdered hundreds of Protestant civilians and Catholic ex servicemen”

            No they didn’t. No serious historian has ever made any such claim about the Civil War period. Newspaper columnists and tabloid journalists pursuing ideological crusades are not historians.

      2. You do not have the slightest idea of what you are talking about. Perhaps you should educate yourself on this subject before you just throw something out there.

          1. That comment was not directed at you, John. Even though we might disagree here or there, I respect your knowledge. There were undoubtedly uncountable horrific acts committed during that time. I just do not believe that those committing the crimes were unilaterally from one faction. The so-called “civil wars” are always the worst. Ours was no different. The winner gets to write history. Of course the loser’s atrocities get highlighted while the winner’s are marginalized or kept in the shadows. That is how it always works.

            1. One of the reasons: probably the main reason for the fairly easy Free State victory was the general public outrage at the behaviour of the Irregulars in many parts of Ireland: the numerous bank robberies and murders of civilians such as those listed above, the drunken indiscipline and criminality which made them hard to distinguish between straightforward criminals in many areas: An Sionnnach refers to the Free State govt as “the regime” or the “Junta” ignoring the fact that they had a clear electoral mandate in the 26 co’s and that the Republicans had made themselves (justifiably) so extremely unpopular with the general public that the people just wanted a restoration of law and order, even at the expense of human rights violations. Apart from Kerry, possibly Sligo Donegal and the border area, the Free State govt had clear majority support everywhere in the South.

  4. Surely it’s a bit late as there are already quite a few of these “vermin” living in the Republic in places like Donegal : I understand some of their fleapits in that County, i.e. Orange Halls, have recently come under attack. Would it not be better to delete the orange third from the tricolour, thus withdrawing official state recognition from these unacceptable vermin living within the inclusive Republic.

  5. My apologies, I tend to forget that many people now make the unfortunate association of regular protestants with that abject cult. The latter was the intent of my ire. I firmly believe in the symbolism of the flag as it is reflective of my values. I don’t believe in special rights for anyone.

  6. john ….this is history some thing happened years ago, it is documented and recorded,,your view shows a free state /black n tan regeme attitude to the facts.made to measure…if history is written by the victors…..,the staters won. fact. ..then why are you the last one…where are the monuments to fallen staters,appart from the big fella s….the post 1922 ira were …not…criminals…my grand parents were not criminals..thanks john

    1. “My grandparents were not criminals”

      Didn’t say they were. I am just saying that one reason the Staters beat the anti treaty forces so badly was that a lot of the Irregulars did make themselves very unpopular in 1923 with the general population.

      An Sionnach’s view of Irish history is, well, not false, but just very one eyed. He does not seem to realise that there were plenty of Irishmen who took a different view at the time.

      De Valera admitted many years later that the Civil War was basically his fault. It was a pointless exercise which he was primarily responsible for. He realised perfectly well in 1921 when the Irish delegation under Collins and Griffith went to London to negotiate with Lloyd George that some sort of compromise solution was inevitable, but held back in Ireland so that he could pretend outrage when that compromise came back: so he could position himself as leader.

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