Daniel Kelly, a Killygordon native, was active in the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) rebel movement in the early 1900s.
After working some years in the railways of Scotland where he attempted to establish a branch of Sinn Fein, he returned to Donegal in 1912 and worked at the Dungloe Road Railway Station and then the Cashelnagore Station near Gortahork. In 1913, he organised Irish Volunteer Companies in Cloghaneely and Creeslough and purchased arms and ammunition. The outbreak of the World War in 1914, split the volunteer companies in two. There was John Redmond’s National Volunteers who favoured supporting the war in Europe, and the Irish Volunteers who supported Irish independence. Kelly lost many of his Irish Volunteers due to British Army recruitment.
He and IRB member James McNulty organised a rally at Doe Castle near Creeslough in 1916. Patrick Pearse was scheduled to participate but planning for the Easter Rising prevented his attendance.
On Easter Sunday 1916, the IRB ordered the Irish Volunteers to mobilize for their rising in Dublin, but the Irish Volunteers were under the command of Eoin MacNeill. MacNeill saw no chance for success of the Easter Rising and cancelled all Volunteer activities. Daniel Kelly and some 33 volunteers nevertheless planned to participate but were hampered by the fact that they couldn’t get to Dublin in time because no trains were running.
On the Saturday after the rising on Easter Monday, the Royal Irish Constabulary arrived at Daniel’s home at the railway station to arrest him. They searched his home and found weapons and ammunition. Daniel was taken with other arrested volunteers to various prisons until he was incarcerated in Frongoch Prison in Wales.
Daniel Kelly was released from Frongoch Prison before Christmas 1916. He and his family moved to Ballybofey where he was chosen by the IRB to take part in its reorganisation in Donegal. During the Irish War of Independence, a few year later, Kelly was active in the areas of Ballybofey, North Donegal, and Derry.
Foe a detailed report of ALL Kelly’s rebel activities before and after the War of Independence…in his own words, see http://www.militaryarchives.ie/collections/online-collections/bureau-of-military-history-1913-1921/reels/bmh/BMH.WS1004.pdf
One of the more unusual incidents reported by Daniel in this report is when the IRB blocked a troop train in Donegal by rolling boulders across the tracks. The volunteers were supplied with hand grenades and were entrenched about 50 ft. above where the train stopped. They attacked with the grenades and a few rifles. A British officer reported: “If the blighters had opened the pins of the bombs, there would not have been one of us left alive”. He said that they just threw the hand grenades the same as they would throw a stone. When asked if anybody was injured, he said one of the men got a cut from broken glass. The train then backed up to the last railway station.
Some of this information is from “County Donegal in 1916 – From the Edge” by the Donegal County Council.