Hynes, Tom (1878-1966)

Athlete and Volunteer

Tom Kenny and local research by Hazel Morrison

Tom Hynes Athlete Hand Coloured Photograph c1912
Photo Credit Larry Hynes
Griffiths Valuation Map of Bane Holding in Kilrainey
Moycullen Historical Society

Kilrainey Moycullen

Killarainey born

Tom Hynes was born in Moycullen on 29th December 1878 and was baptised on 1st January 1879. His parents were Laurence Hynes (1859-1937) from Ower and Mary Bane (1858-1942) from Killarainey. Tom was the eldest of 10 children, Mary (1881-1964), Bridget (1883-1970), Barbara (1886-1975), Anne (1887-), Flannan (1890-1956), Sabina (1893-1960), Laurence (1894-1920), James (1896-) and Michael Patrick (1899-). At the time of Tom’s birth his parents appear to have been residing with his maternal grandfather Thomas Bane in the townland of Killarainey. According to Griffiths Valuation Thomas Bane had house, office and lands leased from local landlord George E. Burke. Three further siblings were born in Moycullen and then in 1887 the family appear to have moved to Ower, Killannin following the death of his grandfather Thomas Bane on 20 December 1886.

winner of first professional marathon held in Ireland

Tom had a hugely successful athletics career. He distinguished himself by winning the first ever professional marathon run in Ireland, in Jones’ Road in 1909, and he retained the title the following year. He won major events in Boston and New York. He travelled regularly to Dublin to compete and about 1912/13, Tom Kenny from Craughwell introduced him to some men who turned out to be IRB men. They regularly gave him Sinn Féin pamphlets to distribute in Galway which he did. This brought him into contact with the Volunteers and George Nicholls and Seamus Carter.

pipe band

He joined the pipe band, Cumann Píobairí na Gaillimhe which was set up by George Nicholls and which was really a cover for IRB activity. He attended the meeting in the Town Hall at which Roger Casement and Eoin McNeill spoke for the purposes of forming the Volunteers in Galway. “After the meeting, a few hundred joined up but that was all that was heard of most of them”. In 1913, Seán McDermott swore him into the IRB.

stink bomb disruption

They were often involved in trying to disrupt World War I recruiting meetings even though they generally got beaten up themselves as most of the population were anti-Sinn Féin. In September 1915, there was a big recruiting meeting in the Galway in the Town Hall. Tom worked in UCG alongside Professor Dillon at the time, and together, they made up about ten stink bombs. They got some Castlegar lads to smuggle these in past the heavy RIC security inside and outside the building. At exactly one minute past eight, Tom and Seamus Carter, guarded by John Hosty and Michael Kavanagh, cut the electricity wires about 75 yards away from the hall and blacked out the entire area. The stink bombs were set off and people walked on one another in their rush to get out. Some broke the windows to try and get fresh air. The hall could not be used for a fortnight.

During the Rising, the plan was to take a few prominent men such as Martin McDonogh and Joe Young and occupy the Post Office, but due to the confusion between order and counter order, it did not happen. Tom was one of the few to escape arrest after the Rising.

Sinn Fein hall, prospect hill

In August 1917, he was instructed to find a hall under the name of Sinn Féin to be used for the organisation and drilling of Volunteers. The auctioneer Amby Roche got him a big house on Prospect Hill which became known as The Sinn Féin Hall. He bought a billiard table, card tables and chairs, and as treasurer, he collected a lot of money from members up to the time the Tans burnt down the hall. They did a lot of drilling, field exercises and route marches and also held Sinn Féin courts.

sleeping atop 15-foot high bookcases

By Easter he was Quartermaster of the Galway Brigade and he organized a raid to destroy income tax and other papers in the Custom House. His job in UCG made him an ideal quartermaster as he had lots of hiding places there in cellars, lofts, presses, garages etc. He was also making hand grenades there. Whenever possible they would buy arms from soldiers, and they smuggled gelignite into the country. There were occasional raids on RIC barracks, but the main concentration was on destroying military stores such as barbed wire, hay, anything arriving for Renmore Barracks or Earl’s Island. The carriers of stuff like cigarettes were relieved of their cargo regularly until the military provided their own transport.

By the end of 1920, most of the remaining Volunteers were in hiding or sleeping under hedges and bushes. Tom and Professor Dillon often slept on top of 15-foot high bookcases or presses in UCG library, and occasionally he and his brother slept in other departments in the college.

Tom Hynes has a road named after him in Newcastle.

Click Here to Read Tom Hynes Witness Statement from the Bureau of Military History

This page was added on 08/02/2016.

Comments about this page

  • Hi John, I’ve just seen these messages, I have a photograph of Murt and Maureen along with others but I didn’t know who they were until I met other family members. Lara and I are now friends on Facebook, it’s amazing how this tree is still growing. Nora, I’m sure you’ll be amazed at all the family who are all over the world. I’m in Scotland but I’m now in touch with lots of family I didn’t even know existed less than 4 years ago. Cheers Allyson.

    By Allyson Moir (20/04/2020)
  • Tom Hynes is my father Thomas Hynes’s uncle
    My dad tells me stories about Tom Hynes all the time.
    Wondering if I have any long lost cousins/ family I don’t know about .
    Thank you from New York

    By Nora j Hynes ONeill (19/04/2020)
  • Hi. I’m another cousin of yours, it looks like. Tom Hynes is my great-grandmother’s brother. My name is Lara Slough.

    By Lara Slough (20/08/2017)
  • You do realise that Tom Hynes was married twice and as a result Murt Hynes and Maureen Hynes were born. Murt worked in UCG for years in the physiology dept. Murt had 4 children…John, Orla, Tara and Tommy while Maureen had also 4 children..John, Michael, Michelle and Maura Finan.

    best regards,

    John Hynes

    By John Hynes (08/03/2017)
  • I was attempting to do a bit of research into my father’s family who were from Moycullen and Galway – My father was Peter Joseph Hynes, b1909 d1984 and his father was Thomas Hynes and his mother was Bridget Newell. This story began on 17th August 2016, when a week after I had contacted Galway advertiser & Galway F.M, (neither replied back) I came across Moycullen Historical Society so thought I’d nothing to lose…. What happened next is truly AMAZING. I was promptly contacted by Walter McDonagh with some very good information, I’m sure it was only a day later i was contacted by Hazel Pagett. Walter and Hazel had details of a cousin who was still living in Galway. (I had no knowledge of this cousin) I phoned him all day Saturday & Sunday only to find out on Sunday night he had been away for the weekend. He did indeed confirm he was my cousin Larry. We arranged to meet when I was in Ireland (pre arranged) 2 days later on the 23rd august. Meanwhile Hazel & Walter where getting me more information about my family who I had never met. I phoned my cousin Larry when I arrived in Castlebar to make arrangements to meet the next day. During the conversation Larry told me he had spoken to Dessie? I had no idea who he was talking about & asked who Dessie was? I was left in tears by his reply “Dessie is your brother” My first thought was (they’ve got me the wrong family) after confirming who my father was it was confirmed I did indeed have a brother. I had no idea I had a brother. I was outside in the street on my mobile crying to my husband “I’ve got a brother” I think I’ve been in shock ever since. It turns out I had 2 brothers but Paddy had died 8 years previously, so I will never get the chance to meet him. I met with Larry who is a wonderful cousin, I met with Hazel & Walter from the fantastic Moycullen Historical Society. I have since been back to Ireland and met my brother and some his family (he had 10 children) he’s an amazing man I kept looking at him saying to myself “that’s my brother” I’m 64 and just found out I’ve got a brother!!!! (My brother is 87) I have since then met my 2 sisters who live in London. I’m in contact via Facebook with some of my nieces, this is one amazing journey. I’ve got a family I never knew existed and would never have found without the truly wonderful Walter and Hazel and the Moycullen Historical Society. I will never be able to thank you enough for all your help. I must also thank my cousin Linda who didn’t let me give up my search. Which I almost did a few times. A huge THANK YOU WALTER, HAZEL AND MOYCULLEN HISTORICAL SOCIETY. You really worked miracles on my family tree which is now a forest! My eyes have been like sprinkler systems since August while I’ve been on this huge emotional journey. THANK YOU. Lots of love from a very grateful Allyson Moir & family. Keep up the magnificent work. Xxx
    * Allyson of course turned out to be the granddaughter of Tom Hynes in the above article.

    By Allyson Moir (10/11/2016)

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