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Thomas "Tom" Hales (5 March 1892 ‚Äď 29 April 1966) was an IRA volunteer and politician from West Cork. He was a friend of Michael Collins.

Born at Knocknacurra, Ballinadee, near Bandon on a family farm owned by his father Robert who was an activist in the Land War and a reputed member of the Fenian Brotherhood.

Tom Hales and his brothers, Sean, Bob and William, fought with the IRA in west Cork during the Anglo-Irish War. A fifth brother, Donal, settled in Genoa from 1913, was appointed Irish Consular and Commercial Agent for Italy in February 1919. In this capacity he played a leading role in the Irish clerical-Sinn Féin alliance which sought to influence both the Vatican and Italian secular opinion during the War of Independence. During the War, Tom was captured by the British Army in Cork and was badly beaten and tortured in an effort to make him disclose the whereabouts of prominent IRA figures, including Michael Collins. He never broke, though his co-accused, Patrick Harte suffered brain damage and died in hospital insane. The torture of Hales and Harte is believed to have influenced a scene in the film The Wind That Shakes the Barley in which an IRA officer's fingernails are pulled out.[1]

The British officer in charge of the interrogation, Major Arthur Percival, subsequently commanded the British forces in Singapore during the Second World War and surrendered to the Japanese, the largest capitulation in British military history.

During the Irish Civil War the Hales brothers fought on opposite sides. Tom Hales commanded the Flying Column which attacked the Free State Army convoy at Béal na Blath which resulted in the death of his friend, Michael Collins. Sean Hales was killed by the IRA during the bitter Irish Civil War. As a reprisal, the Free State executed four senior Republicans, one from each province. The Munster man who was picked out to be shot was Dick Barrett. Ironically, Dick was a member of the same IRA brigade as Sean Hales during the Anglo-Irish War and both were childhood friends (See also Executions during the Irish Civil War).

Hales was elected to D√°il √Čireann in 1933 as a member of Fianna F√°il but failed to retain his seat as an independent candidate in the 1937 general election. He also unsuccessfully contested the 1944 general election as an independent candidate and the 1948 general election as a candidate for Clann na Poblachta. Hales died in 1966.


  • Peter Hart, The I.R.A.& its enemies, violence and community in Cork 1916-1923, "Oxford University Press, 1998), pages 187-201, "The Rise and Fall of a Revolutionary Family".


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