Irish Newspaper Archive

The gateway to Ireland's rich historical past

  • The Weekly Summary - 1920


    The publication of the newspapers, The Weekly Summary, in August 1920 was an attempt by the British government and the Dublin Castle officials to take control of the propaganda war which was then perhaps the most influential part of the war of independence.


    The IRA and Sinn Fein had shown that they could deftly report on any outrage, arrest or injustice to the benefit of their ideals and with this in mind Dublin Castle struck back. The Summary included details of what was happening from a British perspective, including describing the hunger striker, Michael Conlon who was arrested for the attack on Ahern RIC Barrack and his refusal to take food. The newspaper coldly claimed that he could ‘commit suicide’ if he did not. Moreover, the newspaper describe the Sinn Fein movement as ‘enemies of humanity’ owing to the attacks on Irish coastguard stations which they claimed was having a detrimental effect on shipping and had the potential to claims innocent lives as lighthouses were put out of action. The newspaper also included fascinating detail of the war including the fact that following a raid on Harcourt Street railway station in Dublin, aeroplanes were used in the pursuit of the raiders.


    Source: The Weekly Summary 1920-1921, 13.08.1920, page 1


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  • Labour Disputes Rumble - August 1920


    All across Ireland labour disputes rumbled on in August. Undeterred by the action of the military and their employers, workers continued to demand better working condition and rates of pay. It was a feature of the Irish War of Independence which dominated local communities. In Kells, county Meath it was bread van drivers who were demanding better wages; in Roscrea it was builders and tradesmen, as they were in Mullingar. In Lucan, county Dublin 100 men and 200 women struck out from work for over five weeks in the woollen mills. A strike fund was established for the workers and their families. A football match which was organised for this purpose attracted several thousand people to the village who marched through the streets showing their support for the strike. The trade unions saw a huge increase in membership with workers of all categories swelling their ranks. In Virgina, county Cavan one branch could boast thirty-four new recruits in one week alone. Many quickly saw the benefits of union action including the dock workers in the port of Tralee who had their wages increased. There was unrest on big farms and estates in Tipperary and Cavan as workers looked to be afforded the same privileges as workers in towns and villages.


    Source: the Watchword of Labour, 21.08.1920, page 7


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  • Dublin Mountains Arrests - September 1920


    On 19 September 1920 more than forty IRA volunteers people were arrested on the Dublin Mountains as they drilled and carried out military maneuvers.

    Surrounded, the men were fired on by the military and one man, Sean Doyle aged 19 was shot dead when he was hit by a volley of bullets. All prisoners it was reported were to be tried before the courts including their leader, Capt Ryan who was described as a company commander. The arrested men refused to recognize the courts or give their names. It was stated that the men were not in possession of arms or ammunition when they were captured. At the inquest and in several newspaper accounts of the incident, it was claimed that Doyle was not armed and was in the process of surrendering when he was shot. Despite previous warnings, the IRA had decided to go ahead with the training camp but came to rue the decision. However, the controversy over the killing of the unarmed Doyle tuned out to be a huge propaganda coup for the IRA and Sinn Fein. Doyle’s funeral on 23 September was a huge display of republican sentiment in Dublin. Several councils and public bodies passed resolutions of sympathy with his family and rejected the manner in which he was killed. Thousands lined the streets to watch a procession volunteers, Cumann na mBan, Na Fianna Éireann, and members of Dail Eireann including Arthur Griffith.


    Source: Ulster Herald 1901-current, 25.09.1920, page 6



  • Limerick Leader Fire - September 1920


    Turning their attention and ire at the civilian population in an effort to terrify them into subservience, the military also realized that they were losing the propaganda war.

    It was not surprising then that they also turned their attention to newspapers and political pamphlets. On the 2 September 1920 an attempt was made to burn the Limerick Leader newspaper on O’Connell Street, Limerick. Three men returning from work in the General Post Office noticed a flame in the building shortly after 4am and went in search of the manager EB Duggan, who lived over the premises. It was obvious to Duggan and the men in attendance that an attempt had been made to try and burn the building, most likely by members of the British military owing to the republican stanch of the newspaper. A door to the office had been broken open and a tin of petrol sprinkled over the floor. While Duggan and company were there trying to extinguish the flames, a detachment of the Welsh Fusiliers arrived and an officer promised to make inquiries into the outrage. Surprisingly, in subsequent issues of the newspaper they made little mention of the attack, perhaps fearing that the military would revisit the premises if they did so. The Limerick Leader newspaper, first published in 1889, was described as being independent, nationalist and Catholic in nature but were not afraid to report on the injustice that the civilian population were experiencing during the War of Independence. Had it not been for the intervention and quick thinking of the three individuals this very popular provincial paper could have folded 100 years ago this month.


    Source: Evening Echo 1896-current, 03.09.1920, page 2


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  • Public Shaming - September 1920


    One of the favoured methods of enacting justice during the War of Independence was to publicly shame a person who was deemed to have committed a crime or ran foul of the IRA for some reason.

    It was also the IRA’s, or the Republican police’s way of dealing with petty criminals who were using the war as a pretext to carry out crimes. This public shaming was meant to embarrass a person before the community and also meant as a deterrent to others from committing similar crimes or misdemeanours. In Carrickmacross, county Monaghan in September 1920 a man was marched before the National bank and tied with a rope to a telephone pole. The man was blindfolded and a card attached to his chest with the following inscription: ‘I am a thief: I stole eggs, this is my punishment’. On the reverse side the name of the man was printed. Within minutes a crowd had gathered to witness the spectacle and so the public shaming commenced. Eventually his sister came to his rescue and took him from the pole but she too was soon placed under arrest. The operation was carried out by the ‘Volunteer police’ who guarded the man for a considerable time. A week earlier a railway engine driver had been tied to a pole in a similar fashion in Talbot Street, Dublin by the IRA and a placard bearing the words ‘SCAB’ placed on his chest.

    Source: Anglo-Celt 1846-current, 18.09.1920, page 1


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  • Reign of Terror - September 1920


    In what the Westmeath Independent newspaper described as a ‘reign of terror’ several violent incidents occurred across the country during the third week of September.

    One of the prevailing stories throughout the month was the increased terror which the military were imposing on the civilian population. No one was safe from this terror which occurred during both isolated instances and reprisals following IRA attacks. As the nights began to get darker in September, the military began to surprise civilians in their homes. A young man named John Moran, aged 19 of Carrowmoneen, near Tuam was one such victim and was taken from his bed in the middle of the night by the military and a brutal attack ensued. Brought in a military lorry, they tired to extract information about local Sinn Feiners. Stripped naked, Moran was beaten with rifles, boxed in the face and kicked around the lorry. He was then placed against a wall and several shots fired at him. Asked if he would consider joining the army for £7 a week to shoot Sinn Feiner, Moran refused. On the same evening two brothers named Dunleary were taken from their homes and beaten by the military. Martin Dunleary was twice thrown into a river, while his brother was told he would be shot and several bullets were fired close to him. The military pinned a picture of Bishop Mannix which they had taken from their home and riddled it with bullets.


    Source: Westmeath Independent, 25.09.1920, page 2


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  • Kilkeel Old Scores - September 1920


    Violent acts were committed all across the country and in some instances, old scores were being settled in the midst of the war.

    The violence and intimidation of people knew no bounds during September 1920 as was evident in counties Down and Armagh. In the village of Kilkeel, county Down six armed and masked men kidnapped a Protestant farmer, John McKee, from his house at night. Taken by force, McKee was bound in ropes and taken to a field where he was tarred. The men ordered McKee not to attempt to leave for an hour and threatened to burn him if he attempted to flee, pouring oil over him in preparation. In county Armagh a railway engine driver, John Stutt, employed by the Great Northern Railway Company, was attacked by a number of armed and masked men, informing him that if he did not do as they said he would be riddled with bullets. Taken by a number of men into a nearby field Stutt was stripped and his body tarred from waist to neck. Asked did he know why they were tarring him, Stutt replied ‘I suppose it was from driving objectionable trains’. He was told that the next time he drove soldiers on his train he would be shot. Ordered to remain there for twenty minutes or he would be shot, Stutt reported the matter to the police as soon as his assailants had left.


    Source: Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, 29.09.1920, page 7


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  • Violent Home Invasion - September 1920


    In Charleville county Cork, yet another attack on a woman was carried out during a robbery on the home of a man named Bennett.

    The raiders knocking on the door claimed that there were military and requested that they be admitted at once. Sensing that they were military, Bennet refused to open the door. Kicking the door in, the raiders claimed that they had carried out a similar raid on a local judge some nights previous. Demanding money they were given £2, but not satisfied with the amount they became increasingly violent. In the ensuing melee Bennett’s daughter was knocked to the ground, dragged by her hair and ill-treated in a merciless fashion. A cloth saturated in liquid was forced down her throat. The men knelt on her chest and threatened to shoot her if she did give them more money. More money was eventually found for the raiders. Miss Bennett, in evidence given after the attack claimed to recognise some of the men present, including one an ex-soldier. During the raid several articles were broken in the house and there was a considerable damage done. Having made their way from Bennett’s they attacked another farmer on the same night. Owing to the Curfew Law, which curtailed the night time movement of people, the Volunteers vigilante committee had been disbanded allowing midnight raids for money to commence. It was obvious that a certain section of the community were making the most from the troubled times albeit running the risk of been intercepted by the military or the IRA.


    Source: Irish Examiner 1841-current, 09.09.1920, page 5


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  • Midnight Reprisals - September 1920


    The tactic of attacking young women who were deemed to have committed a crime or associated in some way with the British military or the police, as we have seen in Frenchpark, county Roscommon occurred in other counties.

    In county Galway a number of women were assaulted in this manner. At Eyre Square, for example in Galway city Miss Evelyn Baker of Baker’s Hotel was set upon by masked men in the hall of the hotel and her hair was sheared with some force. Baker’s crime was that she had recently given evidence at a military enquiry into the death of Constable Krumm on 8 September who had stayed in the premises. On the following night a party of masked and uniformed men in reprisal for the attack on Baker visited the houses of three other young women and cut off their hair. The raiders on this occasion called on a postman to identify the men who had attacked Miss Baker in the hotel but he was unable to help them. They then proceeded to attack girls who were from families known to have republican sympathies. These attacks provide examples of what Professor Linda Connolly describes as the traumatic experience of revolutionary periods when women’s bodies became battlefields in which war was fought. Many of these incidents were not reported for fear of further reprisal and so have been lost to history.


    Source: Irish Independent 1905-current, 20.09.1920, page 5



  • Frenchpark Outrage - September 1920


    A month of mayhem and outrage occurred in Ireland 100 years ago in September 1920. There was no end to the cycle of violence, with the civilian population the primary target. The Irish Newspaper Archive & the Radical Newspaper Archive contain numerous accounts of the outrages committed by both sides which included torture, intimidation, reprisal and counter propaganda as the War of Independence entered into its most traumatic phase.

    There were many violent attacks during this phase of the War of Independence and women were frequently the target. Some attacks were carried out for associating with the military or the more serious crime of passing information to the military, which the republican cause. At other times, the crimes for which women were punished could be described as innocuous. One such case occurred in Frenchpark, county Roscommon when an elderly woman was savagely attacked over the sale of milk. As part of her punishment for the continued supply of milk to the military, the women had three pig rings inserted into the bottom part of her body by masked and armed raiders. Despite having been warned by the IRA not to do so the women continued her enterprise. However, newspapers suggested that ‘Irish Volunteers’ arrested three men concerned in the outrage and after being tried before a Republican Court they were sentenced to two years exile and duly left the country. The attack on the women came days after the death of Captain Thomas McDonagh in an ambush between Ballaghdereen and Frenchpark. Two RIC constables were killed in the attack. It was said that the military dragged the body of McDonagh through the streets of Ballaghdereen and put it on public display. A number of businesses and shops were destroyed later that night by the military in reprisal for the ambush.


    Source: Evening Echo 1896-current, 07.09.1920, page 1


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