Irish Newspaper Archive

The gateway to Ireland's rich historical past

  • Irish War of Independence - Incendiary Action - 30.June.1920


    As the month of June wore on the British military resorted to targeting a number of types of premises connected to the Republican movement including newspaper offices and printing shops.


    These included the offices of the Munster News, a Limerick based nationalist newspaper which was set on fire in the middle of the night. The editorial and commercial departments were entirely destroyed, while Miss Connellan, the sister of the proprietors and the only occupant of the premises was rescued after having her two arms fractured. They also done the same in Newcastle West in county Limerick where they wrecked the offices of the weekly Observer newspaper, which was Republican in tone. The military and police first visited the house of the newspapers editor, Dr Brouder, demanding that he be handed over to be shot. Learning that he was not at home they set fire to the house and then proceeded to the newspaper offices where they did the same, this time using incendiary bombs. Damage of over £3,000 was done. Perhaps the Irish Newspaper Archive collection would have been larger but for the actions of the ‘Black and Tans’ in Limerick in June 1920!


    Source: Irish Bulletin, 30th June 1920, page 1/2


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  • Irish war of Independence - Violent Reprisals - 29.June.1920

    Irish War of Independence

    June 1920 ends with violent reprisals from the British military all across Ireland.


    Once again the radical newspaper, Irish Bulletin, provides an account of raids and assaults which occurred throughout Ireland in the final week of June. In Limerick city the military fired a number of shots into business and residences after midnight in a night of terror across the country. At Kilcommon, county Tipperary the homes of prominent republicans were ‘attacked’ and women and children present were severely harassed. In the same county, at Ballynonty, the military were said to have ‘shot up’ the village. At a place called Katesbridge in county Down young men returning from a sports day were fired on by a machine gun during a search on the road by the military. In Shillelagh, county Wicklow it was claimed that the fever hospital was taken over the military, denying it to the local community as a means of providing medical care for local people. The same was reported to have occurred in Kenmare, county Kerry where a detachment of the East Lancashire Regiment took over the building. These were all means of controlling the people and the countryside.


    Source: The Irish Bulletin 1918-1921, Tuesday, June 29, 1920, page 3


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  • Irish War of Independence - Poets and Writers - 19.June.1920

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    One of the features of Irish radical newspapers was the platform they provided for poets and writers.


    Harking back to episodes of Irish history or lamenting the present, poetry were used to instil pride, belief and hope for Ireland. Of course many of these poems and prose were nationalist in nature and reflected the interests of the newspaper in which they were published. Many were local scribes, but the newspapers also published the works of those like Thomas McDonagh who had been executed for his role in the 1916 rising. Some like The Watchword of Labour published international poetry including from India, which reflected their own ideals. In June 1920 The Irish Statesman also published the work of Jack B. Yeats, the brother of the Nobel prize winner, William. His poem, ‘Tardy Spring’, was not political in nature but an interesting inclusion nonetheless. Was it published elsewhere or in a collection of poetry? The poem in full can be found in the Irish Statesman, 19 June 1920, which is available on the Radical Newspapers section of the Irish Newspaper Archive. The poem opened with the following lines:

    ‘Sleepy head, sleepy head, awake and begone

    From under the leaves of dead yesterday,

    The leaves snug and warms where you lay –

    Stop from complaining, and put away moan,

    cast away sleep and dry up your tears,

    and weave, weave,

    the green mantle that great summer wears.



    Source: The Irish Statesman, 19 June 1920, page 7.


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  • Irish War of Independence - Shemus Cartoons - June.1920


    Cartoons were not a new feature of the Irish newspaper business one hundred years ago but certainly was transformed by the arrival of Ernest Forbes, to the staff of the Freeman’s Journal in 1920.


    Using the pseudonym ‘Shemus’, he was the first regular cartoonist on an Irish daily newspaper and his cartoons during the during the War of Independence and Civil War were widely published and distributed. Cartoons in the radical newspapers contained in the Irish Newspaper Archive at this time also highlight the varying forms of propaganda, which were at play during the Irish War of Independence. Cartoons and depictions of what was happening in Ireland were highly effective and accompanied by accounts of actual events, were an important part of republican propaganda. Newspapers such as Old Ireland and The Sinn Feiner were just two of those who used cartoons regularly in their editions. Many of the cartoons in The Sinn Feiner newspaper 100 years ago related to thise which were used in the trial of Jerimiah O’Leary for sedition and were reproduced courtesy of ‘Bull’. In today’s blog post we hope you enjoy a selection of these which first started to appear in number from June 1920 onwards.



    Source: Old Ireland, 19 June 1920, page 310; Old Ireland, 26 June 1920, page 324; see The Sinn Feiner, 21 August 1920, page 5; The Sinn Feiner 1920-1921, Saturday, June 26, 1920







  • Irish War of independence - The ‘sack of Fermoy’ - 29.June.1920


    The daring capture of Brigadier General Lucas in Fermoy county Cork during late June 1920 was captured in the pages of the Irish Bulletin.


    Described by the newspaper as the ‘Commanding Officer of the British Army of Occupation’ in the Fermoy area, the military carried out a frenzied search for him using armoured cars and even aeroplanes as large parts of Munster were scoured for evidence. It was estimated that the number of houses which were searched as a result amounted to more than 1,000. The military responded by sacking the town of Fermoy. Leaving their barrack just after midnight, over 500 soldiers proceeded to wreck the town. Over 70 business premises and homes were forcibly entered and whiskey stores consumed. The drunken soldiers then roamed the town firing shorts in the air and into dwelling houses. Many, claimed the Irish Bulletin, were seriously injured, while women and children were ‘terror stricken’. Over £40,000 worth of damage was done. On the same night soldiers in Lismore, county Waterford went on a similar rampage throughout the town, and likewise in Newcastle West, county Limerick. Lucas was released after a number of weeks. Recently letters written by him to his wife have been made publically available suggesting that he was on good terms with his captors.



    Source: The Irish Bulletin 1918-1921, Tuesday, June 29, 1920, page 1

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  • Irish War of Independence - Cycle of Violence - June.1920


    The continued violence by all sides during the War of Independence and the lawlessness that prevailed generated considerable interest in the international press, with many sending correspondents to witness events at first hand.

    In Britain, there were varying reports about the cycle of violence and in June radical newspapers such as the Irish Bulletin published extracts from some. The excerpts gave an insight into popular opinion about the progress of the war and also about the conduct of the military. The London Daily Herald claimed that ‘British rule there (Ireland) is a stark regime of oppression’, that the military were ‘running amok’ in Ireland and doing so with ‘viciousness’. The Manchester Guardian believed that Ireland wanted to restore here ‘dignity and her full prosperity’; while the London Globe claimed, that Sinn Fein was winning the war everywhere. Newspapers such as the London New Witness went as far as claiming that ‘the union is broken: England can never govern Ireland again’. They also quoted British politicians who were also of the same opinion including, for example, Philip Snowden, an MP was quoted as saying that Ireland was being ruled ‘like a conquered province’.


    Source: The Irish Bulletin,28th June 1920, page 1+2


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  • Irish War of Independence - Derry Riots - 25.June.1920

    Irish War of Independence


    The ongoing riots in Derry City continued to generate interest throughout the month of June.


    Described by the Freeman’s Journal as being on the verge of destruction, tensions ran high after Catholics were attacked coming from Mass. Catholic houses were attacked in the Waterside and families were forced to leave their homes. In a night of terror on 19 June five men were killed. The fighting continued over the course of the next few days and on 21 June a further four were killed. Reacting to the deaths and the ongoing rioting Arthur Griffith, founder of Sinn Fein, launched an astonishing attack on the British government with regard to the Derry riots claiming that they were being organised to incite sectarianism in the city. Using the platform of the Irish Bulletin newspaper Griffith claimed that the riots were being ‘engineered by persons of prominence in England’. The claim was denied in a response by Dublin Castle on 24th June, who also stated that they had no reason to anticipate the rioting. It was also claimed that weapons had been delivered to Unionists in Derry from other counties in Ulster and that they were being guarded by the RIC.



    Source: The Irish Bulletin 1918-1921, Friday, June 25, 1920, page 2.



  • Irish Radical Newspapers - Old Ireland - 19.June.1920

    Old Ireland

    Another radical newspaper in circulation in 1920 was Old Ireland a paper which provided commentary and debate on all of the leading issues of the day.


    In an edition published in June 1920 in the wake of the county council elections, the editor of Old Ireland declared that the result was ‘a defeat for Carson’ and victory for republicanism. Amongst the contributors to Old Ireland was Maud Gonne McBride who in 1920 wrote about Irish socialism in an international context. The newspaper also avidly supported the cause of labour in June 1920 espoused the rights of railway workers. Socialism, according to Aodh de Blacam was fast becoming the most important issue in Ireland. In a somewhat humorous take on ‘Ireland and America’, Kevin Stroma Dorbene believed that events in Ireland were somewhat amusing to readers across the Atlantic. ‘John Bull’ had been put in his place, according to Dorbene and if the British tried to portray that another Easter Rising was imminent in Ireland they would have face the wrath of the American Congress. The victory in the local elections the paper believed gave de Valera credibility in America, which would be of major significance as the War of Independence played out.


    Download Source: Old Ireland 1919-1921, Saturday, June 19, 1920, various



  • Irish War of Independence - Military up the ante - 18.June.1920


    Radical newspapers continued to report on the activity of the military who, very much on the back foot, up the ante in terms of targeting suspected republicans and their homes.


    The backlash also coincided with the upsurge in activity of the republican police and in many areas, incidents were directly related. In Lismore, county Waterford the military fired into the home of J. Geary; in Ardmore in the same county six houses were raided for suspects, while Patrick Grace, a farmer, and said to be incident of any charge was fired at in his home in county Kilkenny. At Killmallock, members of the Republican police were fired at when carrying out their duties and one of the party seriously wounded. In Stradbally, county Laois (Queen’s County) the military fired without warning on members of the Republican Fife and Drum band which was parading through the town. At Cappawhite, county Tipperary as many as eighteen houses were raided on one night and several gardens dug up in an attempt to uncover weapons. In the same week twelve house in Belmullet, Mayo were raided by the military.


    Download Source: The Irish Bulletin 1918-1921, Friday, June 18, 1920, page 6.


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