On 24th October 1920, a party of British military and police arrested Ned Lyons, the Newport Battalion Commandant of the IRA. There is no doubt that he is Mayo's forgotten hero in the war against the British. What happened to him is one of the most horrific stories of the war.
After his arrest he was taken to Galway jail where he was tortured in an effort to gain information. His fellow prisoners were able to hear his screams and it got so bad that his screaming kept them awake at night. Then there was silence. Word filtered out that he had been moved, but all efforts to find out where he had been taken failed. The capture of the O.C. was a great coup for the British, but to his eternal credit he gave no information.
Nothing further was heard of him until the Truce. Then Michael Kilroy found him in Dundrum Asylum - totally insane. He had been moved there from Galway, his mind unhinged. Kilroy found him lying in a ball on a bed; he did not speak, nor give any sign of recognition. Michael, however, happened to notice that the nails on each of his fingers had been pulled off. He died, mercifully, on the 24th October 1924 in Dundrum at the age of twenty-eight.
A monument in his memory has been erected at Meldicott St., Newport and it bears the inscription:
I ndíl chuimhne an cheannphoirt
Eamonn Ó Laighin
Agus a chomradaithe
Den dara cath Briogáid Mhuigheo Thiar
AD FINEM FIDELIS
The side face of the memorial lists the following names:
Commandant Edward Lyons
Vice Commandant Michael Mc Manamon
Captain Patrick Marley
Captain Patrick Mulchrone
Staff Captain James Moran
Second Lieutenant Michael Moran, Dooagh, Achill
Private James Browne, Kilmeena
Private Patrick Staunton
Private Thomas O Donnell
Erected by their comrades in Ireland and America 1960.
By Brian Hoban