Monthly Archives: February 2020

  • Queensfort House Eight Shots Fired - 26.February.1920

    Queensfort House Eight Shots Fired

    Land agitation in county Galway culminated in shots being fired at the home of Francis McCormack at Queensfort, between Dunmore and Tuam in February 1920.

    McCormick and sister were the only occupants of the house when the incident occurred and were unscathed, but one of the staff, Miss Kelly, a cook, was said to have had a lucky escape during the firing. More than eight shots were fired at the house and many of the windows of the bedrooms were shattered. Land in Hollymount, county Mayo was said to have been the cause of the outrage. Motor cars used in the attack, which suggested that the people involved had travelled a distance. Speaking after the incident the Rev Dr Gillmartin described it as an ‘abominable outrage’. The agitation continued and this part of Galway would see a number of ‘extensive cattle drives’ during the early months of 1920. The attack at Queensfort came in the same month as the murder of a herdsman at a county Galway estate as agitation for the breakup of landed estates intensified. In March 1920 the murder of Frank Shawe Taylor,  a land agent and described as being one of the best known people in the west of Ireland highlighted the extent to which people were willing to go in order to secure land. There was widespread agitation at estates that were under his care.


    Download Source: Connacht Tribune, 28 Feb 1920, page 5


    Connacht Tribune 1909-current Saturday February 28 1920 PAGE 1

  • Timoleague RIC Barracks Attacked - 24 February 1920

    Timoleague RIC Barracks attacked Cork Examiner

    Timoleague RIC Barracks Attacked 24 February 1920 Cork Examiner 27 February 1920

    The targeting of RIC barracks across the country continued in county Cork in late February when the police at Timoleague, occupied by nine constables and two sergeants, were attacked. The attack was alleged came as a surprise owning to the quietness of the area up to that point. However, the RIC were obviously prepared for an attack, using Vesey lights to try and summon help from neighbouring barracks but none was forthcoming. Armed with rifles and hand grenades, the IRA’s attack began at 11.30 pm and lasted more than three hours. Once more the IRA had barricaded most of the roads surrounding the barracks. Located near to the railway station, the IRA commandeered railway wagons and used them as armoured cars.  The operation had been carefully planned and John ‘Flyer’ Nyhan, a member of the local IRA company had scouted the barracks prior to the attack when delivering goods to the policemen. In total, almost 100 men were involved in the attack, the outcome of which could have been much different only bombs failed to explode and was found outside by the police after the affray. The stationmaster’s house was badly damaged during the attack, but no casualties were reported. In the days that followed reports that IRA volunteers had been arrested at the scene were dismissed. Almost simultaneously, an attack was made on the RIC barracks at nearby Mount Pleasant on the same evening lasting over four hours.

    Source: Irish Examiner, 27 February 1920, page 5

    Cork Examiner 27 February 1920


    Irish Examiner 1841-current, Friday, February 27, 1920 PG 5

  • RIC barracks in Ballynahinch Failed Sinn Féin Plot

    RIC barracks in Ballynahinch attack 23 February 1920

    RIC barracks in Ballynahinch Attacked Failed 23 February 1920

    An attempt to blow up the RIC barracks in Ballynahinch, county Down was widely condemned within in February 1920 when as the Belfast Newsletter wrote the ‘operations of Sinn Fein happily failed in its murderous intent’. Ballynahinch was a small garrison of only five policemen and was manned at the time by Sergeant Doherty and Constables Fennell, Barrett, Coyne and Elliot.

    Sinn Fein in Ulster plot failed

    Shortly after 3 am on 23 February one of the RIC men heard a noise outside the barracks and it was discovered that a ‘diabolical’ plan was in place to blow up the building. The IRA on this occasion had managed to make a hole in the wall into which a stick of gelignite had been placed. According to the RIC had it exploded the neighbouring house belonging to a man called Samuel Anderson would also have been destroyed. In advance of the attack, the IRA had managed to cut all of the telegraph wires preventing communication with Belfast and neighbouring towns. Trees were cut down and gates and large stones were used to block the roads. There had been a large number of visitors through the village during the day but nothing untoward was anticipated in what was perceived to have been ‘loyal county Down’. The plot to blow up the barracks was foiled and the IRA retreated.

    Download Source: Belfast Newsletter, 24 Feb 1920, page 5.

    Belfast Newsletter 24 february 1920 Download RIC Barracks attack failed

    Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, Tuesday, February 24, 1920 page 5

  • Prisoners Release Draws Large Crowd - 22.February.1920

    Cattle drive prisoners 22 February 1920

    The release from prison of a man convicted to taking part in cattle drive was enthusiastically welcomed in Queen’s County (Laois) in February 1920. Anthony Monohan of Cappagh, near Borris-in –Ossory was welcomed home by a large crowd who gathered at Ballybrophy train station having served two months in jail for driving cattle off the lands of Thomas Colcough near Borris-in-Ossory. Met by the Knocknaree Pipers Band and the Borris-in-Ossory Fife and Drum Band, Monahan was paraded through the streets, feted as a local hero.

    Navan prisoners welcome home 2

    During his term of imprisonment, Colcough had surrendered the lands on which the cattle drive had taken place, such was the level of animosity towards him and the growing agitation amongst small holders and landless people. In the coming months a number of other estates would be divided up following agitation. There were similar scenes in county Meath when cattle drivers were released from prison including at Navan where the ‘Back to the Land Association’ welcomed prisoners home ‘amid much cheering and singing’. In Navan the tone of the speeches delivered reflected the view that the association was determined to secure land for people in the future. The speeches at Navan also came a number of days after land was targeted by cattle drivers and where a grave and wooden cross were placed on the land, suggesting the outcome for the owner if he did not comply with the agitators.

    Download Source: Nationalist & Leinster times, 28 Feb 1920, page 5; see also Drogheda Independent, 21 Feb 1920; page 4.

    Drogheda Independent 1884-current Saturday February 21 1920                    Drogheda Independent Saturday February 21 1920 page 4

  • By 1920 the GAA had become the most prominent sporting organisation - 21.February.1920

    GAA Organise Games 1920 February

    By 1920 the GAA had become the most prominent sporting organisation across the country and was closely aligned to the political aspirations of Irish nationalists.

    Despite the ongoing troubles in Ireland (and the inclement weather) the GAA continued to organise games during the month of February. The GAA in county Tipperary was said to have delighted when martial law was postponed in February allowing them to organise games and dances in several county towns. Huge crowds attended a gold medal tournament at the Cork Athletic Grounds and in Croke Park where reigning all Ireland champions Kildare took on Wexford. Other matches including Dublin and Kilkenny in a senior hurling challenge were orgainsed for the Motor Strikers Fund in Dublin. The continued motor strike threatened the playing of a match between Cavan and Meath in Oldcastle, but the Cavan county board suggested the novel idea of the players travelling by rail on the previous day and staying overnight to allow the came to be played. In a debate which has resonance with Ireland and the GAA in 2020, the annual convention of the Kerry County Board considered the debt which the board had accrued most of which stemmed from the preparation of the county team. Costing £115 to prepare the Kerry senior team one newspaper reported that ‘it takes some money to train a team for all Ireland honours’. At the same meeting, Austin Stack was unanimously elected as the chairman of the county board underlining the connections between politics and the GAA during this period.

     Download Source: The Liberator (Tralee), 17 Feb 1920, page 3 &  Download Source: The Cork Examiner 19 Feb 1920, page 7;




  • IRA Attack Railway Lines - 20.February.1920

    IRA ATTACK RAILWAYS to prevent RIC Movement February 1920

    IRA Target Railway Lines - February 1920

    As the War of independence progressed, attacks on railway lines and their staff increased as the IRA attempted to prevent the movement of the RIC and the military. Trains that were carrying weapons were also attacked as at Drumcondra, county Dublin in February 1920 (see earlier post this month). In county Donegal, the railway at Burtonport and trains traveling on the line came under attack on a number of occasions in 1920. During one attack in February, big stones were placed on the line forcing the drivers' engine off the track but the carriage remained on the line. Reports from the incident described the danger which railway workers faced and it was luck that there was no loss of life.

    Donegal RAILWAY OUTRAGE February 1920

    Later that month as the train was due at the village of Kincasslagh in Donegal fifteen masked men held up the station master, cut the wires and smashed equipment in his cabin. With the station master held at gunpoint, the train was then ransacked but the IRA retreated without finding any weapons or ammunition on-board. Later in 1920, the Burtonport train was again targeted by the IRA when coming from Derry, the train was held up at a place called Crolly by armed men. Two men were wounded by a shotgun during the raid, while the driver was told to take the train to a ‘lonely spot’ where it was searched, again in vain, for ammunition.

    Download Source: Freemans Journal, 20 February 1920, page 3.

    Freemans JournaL February 20 1920 PG 1

  • IRA Sensational Attack Camp RIC Barracks - 19.February.1920


    IRA Attack Camp RIC Barracks Co. Kerry 19.February.1920

    The attack on Camp RIC barracks in County Kerry by the IRA caused a sensation locally and indicated the first withdrawal of the constabulary from the countryside. Carried out using rifles, revolvers, hand grenades and crowbars the IRA were intent not just on seizing weapons but on destroying the barracks.

    RIC Barracks attack Kerry

    Sergeant McDonagh and six police officers were present in the barracks and replied with rifle fire and grenades. Lasting over an hour the IRA succeeded in blowing a hole in the gable wall of the barracks and called on the RIC to surrender. McDonagh, who had been shot through the cheek ordered that no surrender would be made and returned fire immediately. The IRA then retreated and left guns and crowbars behind them. The police investigating the scene in the aftermath of the attack found two revolvers, one with a bullet mark, suggesting the holder of the gun had been hit. At least three IRA men were injured in the attack. As with all of the attacks on RIC barracks which had taken place to date in Ireland, the roads were torn up, trees were cut and blocked the road, while all methods of communication had been cut. In the days that followed a number of houses in Tralee were searched and indeed in early March raids were still being carried out in connection with the attack. A few days after the attack the police decided to abandon the building, took away all of their possessions and set fire to the shell of the barracks.

    Download Source: Kerryman, 21 February 1920, page 3.

    Kerryman February 21 1920 CAMP RIC BARRACKS ATTACK

    Kerryman 1904-current, Saturday, February 21, 1920

  • Ellen Morris Murder Fiendish Outrage - 17.February.1920

    Ellen Morris Murdered 17 february 1920

    Murder of Ellen Morris - Fiendish Outrage

    A ‘fiendish outrage’ was how the Belfast Newsletter described the murder of Ellen Morris in county Wexford in February 1920.

    elderly women small

    Aged 60 and a native of Glentine, Ballagh near Enniscorthy. Six masked men stormed the Morris house and when Morris took a spade to force the raiders out and one of the attackers pointed a revolver at her and shot her through the heart. A person in the house looked to go to get a priest but the raiders told them ‘no priest’ and that they were not to leave the house for two hours. The raid had been carried out on the house for arms and it was known locally that Morris had a son who was in the Royal Army Service Corps. The murder of Ellen Morris was met with revulsion locally in county Wexford and beyond. Members of the Ballagh Ancient Order of Hibernians, a nationalist fraternal organisation, provided a guard of honour at the funeral, which took place at Oulart, near Enniscorthy. Later in 1920, at the Wexford Assizes thirteen men were brought for trial and a man called John Lacy admitted firing the shot but pleaded that it was not intentional. While the case was being prepared for the assizes a number of statements were given to a police officer but he was later shot before the trial. Huge crowds were present at the trial and the prisoners were brought from Dublin to Rosslare by boat and under a heavily armed guard. Lacy, only eighteen years old, it was claimed panicked during the raid but was found guilty of murder.

    Download Source: Belfast Newsletter, 16 February 1920, page 5; See also Freeman’s Journal, 18 February 1920, page 4.

    free 1                                          Belfast Newsletter 1

  • Day of Outrage in Ireland - 16.February.1920

    Outrage in Ireland - 16.February.1920

    Throughout the month of February 1920, a number of outrages were committed across the country, the motives for which were not always clear.

    At Ballylongford, county Kerry a young man named Heaphy was shot through the shoulder as he left his house, the shot alleged to have been fired by a policeman. The injured man was removed to hospital in Limerick and said to have been in a precarious condition. In the same week, a soldier in Ballyshannon, county Donegal fired several rounds of his weapon in the air before being overpowered by other soldiers who took the gun from him. In county Westmeath, at a place called Tubber, a shot was fired through the window of a house, narrowly missing the occupant. Land was said to have been the issue in this incident. In Limerick City a man named James Dalton, who was employed in the Limerick Gas Works was fired at, as he made his way home from work. Four revolver shots were fired, one of which hit Dalton in the hand, fracturing a finger. Two men were observed in a lane way after the incident but made their escape, although one it was claimed had been identified. Dalton took an active part in the election of Eamon de Valera in East Clare and Count Plunkett in Roscommon. According to Dalton he had dismissed rumours concerning him in the Sinn Fein movement, but he had declined to bring slander charges. In light of the number of outrages across the country, it was little wonder that the Irish bishops in their Lenten Pastorals delivered the same week, called on people to desist from joining secret societies or carrying out these outrages.

    Download Source: Freemans Journal, 16 February 1920; Page: 3; See also Limerick Leader, 16 February 1920, page 3.

    Limerick Leader 1905-current Monday February 16 1920                              Freemans Journal 1763-1924 Monday February 16 1920

  • RIC Ballytrain Barracks Fierce Fighting - 14.February.1920


    RIC Ballytrain Barracks Fierce Fighting - 14.February.1920

    After a month of intense IRA activity across the country, the War of Independence continued unabated in February 1920. Becoming more daring in the process, the IRA continued to target the RIC and their barracks. Elsewhere, local issues and tensions would also surface, and in some cases, they become embroiled in the struggle for Independence. February 1920 would be a month of chaos across the country

    Described by the newspapers of the day as a ‘fierce affray’ the three-hour assault on the RIC barracks at Ballytrain, county Monaghan was a significant engagement for the Monaghan IRA during the War of Independence. Launched at 2 am on a Sunday morning and led by Eoin O’Duffy, later a Commissioner of An Garda Siochana, the attack had been carefully planned.

    Located eight miles from Castleblayney, the RIC barracks in Ballytrain was manned by two sergeants and four constables all of whom it was said fought against the odds for over three hours. When at 5am ‘the leader’ of the IRA party demanded the officers surrender it was met by continued firing from the police. O’Duffy then gave the order to plant explosives at the gable wall, which instantly collapsed. Four RIC officers were buried in the rubble of the building and were later transferred to Carrickmacross hospital for treatment. About fifty men then rushed the building carrying off a quantity of weapons A house belonging to a man named Mitchell was raided before the attack, where four members of the family were held hostage throughout the night. The IRA smashed all of the windows in the house allowing them to fire on the barracks. As many as 150 men took part in the raid, which also saw some men taking up position in cattle byres, which had been cleaned out in order to give protection. It was later alleged that O’Duffy had told the RIC men that he was glad no one had been killed in the exchange- ‘We did not come here to do injury, but only for arms’. It was hardly the welcome Sergeant Graham had expected having only arrived in the barracks three days before.

    Download Source:  Ulster Herald, 21 February 1920, page 2. + Sligo Champion 21.February.1920

    Ulster Herald 1901-current Saturday February 21 1920                                                 Sligo Champion 1879-current Saturday February 21 1920 Page 6                                               Ulster Herald 1901-current, Saturday, February 21, 1920 pg 2

    Sligo Champion 1879-current, Saturday, February 21, 1920

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