Twomey, Maurice (‘Moss’) (1897–1978), revolutionary, was born 10 June 1897 at Clondulane, Fermoy, Co. Cork, eldest son among two sons and five daughters of Maurice Twomey, labourer at Hallinan's flour mill, and May Twomey (née Donovan), housewife. Twomey attended the local primary school until the age of 14; thereafter he worked in Hallinan's mill, eventually rising to the post of works manager. Joining the Irish Volunteers in 1917, he began to organise a group in the mill. In 1918 he was battalion adjutant of the Fermoy Battalion, and by January 1919 had risen to brigade adjutant of the Cork no. 2 Brigade. Twomey worked closely with Liam Lynch (qv) and helped direct IRA intelligence in his brigade area. He took part in one of the first major attacks on British troops, in Fermoy during September 1919. Twomey became a commandant on Lynch's staff of 1st Southern Division in 1920. Arrested during 1920 and imprisoned on Spike Island, he escaped with Bill Quirke and others in November 1920. Opposing the Anglo–Irish treaty, Twomey became adjutant-general to Lynch, and was with him until his fatal shooting on the Knockmealdowns in April 1923. Twomey was himself captured a short time later, but managed to escape from Mountjoy jail; recaptured, he was imprisoned until 1924. He became involved in the reorganisation of the IRA, as inspection officer touring its units in late 1924 and early 1925, and elected to its army council in November 1925. He was appointed acting chief of staff in June 1926, and was arrested and jailed for one month in November 1926. Confirmed as IRA chief of staff in November 1927, he held this post until May 1936.
Under Twomey the IRA slowly rebuilt its strength, becoming an important force in Irish politics, surviving the Cumann na nGaedheal government's clampdown of winter 1931, and contributing to Fianna Fáil's general election victories of 1932 and 1933. While sometimes perceived as a conservative politically, Twomey was in fact central to the radical shift leftwards in the IRA from the late 1920s, convincing the militarists of the need for a political policy. However, his greatest strength was in his ability to hold an organisation of disparate factions and differing personalities together. By 1934 the IRA was finding itself under increasing pressure, with support slipping to Fianna Fáil and conflict growing with the Blueshirts, and despite Twomey's efforts the organisation split in March 1934. The next two years saw the Fianna Fáil government move to suppress the organisation. Twomey was forced to go on the run in March 1935 (surfacing in April to unveil a memorial to Liam Lynch on the Knockmealdowns) and remained at large until May 1936. Sentenced by military tribunal to three years imprisonment for membership of an unlawful organisation, he served one year and seven months in Arbour Hill and the Curragh. On release (December 1937) he resumed IRA activity and became adjutant-general to the new chief of staff, Seán Russell (qv).
Twomey inspected the IRA's units in England in preparation for the organisation's bombing campaign, but felt the plan misjudged and withdrew from IRA activity in 1938. He opened a newsagent's and tobacconist's shop in O'Connell St., Dublin, in autumn 1938 and ran this business until 1963. In 1940 he was interned in Cork prison for two weeks, but released on ministerial advice. The Special Branch considered him to be still in contact with the IRA, and indeed during the Emergency he was consulted on several occasions by the IRA for his advice on internal problems. He also gave material assistance to released prisoners and republicans deported from Britain.
Twomey remained a respected figure in republican circles until his death. In April 1971 he unveiled the restored Wolfe Tone (qv) monument at Bodenstown, and in his address reiterated the importance of Tone's non-sectarian message, for which he received praise in the Irish Times. He was badly injured in a traffic accident that year and confined to his Ballsbridge home from that time.
Twomey married (August 1930) Kathleen McLaughlin, a UCD graduate and republican activist. She was a native of Donegal and the daughter of John McLaughlin, farmer, and Mary McLaughlin (née O'Doherty), schoolteacher. They had two children: a son, Maurice (b. 1932), and a daughter, Maire (b. 1933). Twomey was badly affected by Kathleen's death in April 1978 and died on 6 October that year; he is buried in Glasnevin cemetery. His papers are held at UCD Archives.