Monthly Archives: April 2020

  • War of Independence - Miltown Malbay Tragedy - 18.April.1920

    Miltownmalbay Tragedy 18.April.1920

    Aril 1920 started with the largest scale IRA activity to date in the War of Independence with the systematic targeting of abandoned RIC barracks and other buildings. It was a month during which the issue of Irish independence would be brought to an international audience, while it continued to be a time of terror in Ireland. The RIC remained the open target of the IRA, but on a number of occasions in April, the RIC would claim victory. Elsewhere, land-related issues continued to flare as anarchy set in across the country.

    War of Independence - Miltown Malbay Tragedy - 18.April.1920

    One of the most daring attacks of the entire War of Independence period was carried out on the morning of 18 April in the quiet West Clare village of Kilmihil. On that Sunday morning as Sergeant Carroll, along with Constables Collins and Martyn made their way from having attended 10 o’clock mass they were ambushed by a large party of the IRA. Carried out in daylight and with a large civilian population present as they also congregated outside the church, the attack was all the more daring considering that the ambush occurred in the proximity of the Police Barracks and only a few hundred yards from the Military Depot. In the exchange of fire which took place, as men, women, and children fled in all directions Sergeant Carroll was killed and Constable Collins was severely wounded. Several civilians were also injured in the affray. Left behind to defend the situation John Breen was said to have fought valiantly to allow his comrades to retreat. He was eventually shot and died from his wounds. A large memorial now stands in Kilmihil commemorating Breen and the ambush in April 1920, while a smaller stone marker records the place where he fell. The inscription on the memorial records the following lines:

                ‘He died for the olden cause, the cause that shall not fail, while the stars above look down on one unconquered Gael’.

     

    Download Source: see Cork Examiner, 23 April 1920, page 3. ****PHOTO of the Village and those killed****

    Irish Examiner 1841-current, Friday, April 23, 1920

    #Irish Examiner April 23, 1920

  • Rioting in Derry worst in half a century -17.April.1920

    Riots Derry City Belfast Newsletter 19.April.1920

    April 1920 started with the largest scale IRA activity to date in the War of Independence with the systematic targeting of abandoned RIC barracks and other buildings. It was a month during which the issue of Irish independence would be brought to an international audience, while it continued to be time of terror in Ireland. The RIC remained the open target of the IRA, but on a number of occasions in April the RIC would claim victory. Elsewhere, land-related issues continued to flare as anarchy set in across the country.

    Rioting in Derry worst in half a century -17.April.1920

    Simmering tensions throughout the month of April 1920 in Derry city boiled over on the night of the 17-18th and resulted in a night of riot in the city. Several events conspired to precipitate rioting on the weekend of 17-18 April. There was widespread anger when it was learned that a Derry man lay dangerously ill in Mountjoy jail as part of the hunger strike. Then on 14 April skirmishes between nationalists and unionists broke out in the city when Republican prisoners were arriving back in the city and an attempt was made by the military to disperse the gathering. What followed was reported as some of the worst rioting for more than half a century. Then on Saturday evening, the 17th, fierce rioting erupted in Derry after soldiers were attacked in various parts of the city. In retaliation, unionists and soldiers of the Dorset regiment engaged crowds of nationalists. Armed with iron bars and stones the rioters attacked soldiers as they left the Soldiers Club and who had come to help their besieged colleagues. They then retreated to the Soldiers Club which came under attack. All throughout the city, the rioting continued. When 200 soldiers of the Dorset Regiment arrived to put down the riot, the attention soon shifted to other areas including a RIC barrack which was located in a predominantly Catholic part of the city. In the end, thousands of pounds worth of damage was done to property, ten civilians were hospitalised and several of the military were also injured.

    Download Source: Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, 19.04.1920, page 5

    Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, Monday, April 19, 1920

    Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, Monday, April 19, 1920

  • Clare Milltown-Malbay 14th April 1920 RIC shot into crowd.

     Clare Tragedy Bombs thrown into crowd April 1920 started with the largest scale IRA activity to date in the War of Independence with the systematic targeting of abandoned RIC barracks and other buildings. It was a month during which the issue of Irish independence would be brought to an international audience, while it continued to be time of terror in Ireland. The RIC remained the open target of the IRA, but on a number of occasions in April the RIC would claim victory. Elsewhere, land related issues continued to flare as anarchy set in across the country.

    Milltown-Malbay 14th April 1920 RIC and the military shot into a crowd.

    It was a month of terror in county Clare, none more so than at Milltown-Malbay on the 14 April when a group of RIC and the military shot into a crowd who were celebrating the release of prisoners' release from Mountjoy jail, killing three people and wounding nine others. Gathered around a lit tar barrel to celebrate the release of the Mountjoy hunger-strikers, the crowd were fired after being warned to disperse. The dead included Patrick Hennessy, a 30-year-old small farmer from Miltown Malbay and a father of two; John O’Loughlin, an unmarried tailor from Ennistymon; and Thomas Leary, 33, a married father of 10 children from Miltown Malbay. Naturally, there was widespread revulsion at the killings. In the House of Commons, TP O’Connor rebuked the British government for the actions of the police and soldiers. In the wake of the attack, the Bishop of Killaloe, Michael Fogarty, condemned the incident but called for calm. Writing to Fr Hannon, PP of Miltown Malbay, the bishop expressed:

        ‘Universal sorrow at slaughter of your helpless and inoffensive people. I tender my deepest sympathy to you and friends and victims. Please exhort people in my name to exercise self-control in spite of provocation’.

    The scenes witnessed at the funerals, it was said, would live long in the memory of the people of Clare.

    Download Source: Irish Independent 1905-current, Monday, April 19, 1920; Page: 5

    Another Appalling Clare Tragedy - Police thorw bombs into crowd

  • Sergeant Patrick Finnerty was shot - 15.April.1920

    Sergeant Finnerty Shot Dead

    April 1920 started with the largest scale IRA activity to date in the War of Independence with the systematic targeting of abandoned RIC barracks and other buildings. It was a month during which the issue of Irish independence would be brought to an international audience, while it continued to be time of terror in Ireland. The RIC remained the open target of the IRA, but on a number of occasions in April, the RIC would claim victory. Elsewhere, land-related issues continued to flare as anarchy set in across the country.

    In mid-April 1920 a large crowd of Sinn Fein demonstration at Balbriggan county Dublin was under the careful watch of the RIC. The Republican gathering was to celebrate the release of hunger strikers from Mountjoy jail some days previously. As the crowd began to move down Clonard Street and as the police looked on, Sergeant Patrick Finnerty was shot. A military inquest would later reveal that he had been shot by a revolver. Lingering for two days, Finnerty died in the Mater Hospital. Aged 51, Finnerty was unmarried and had given over twenty-five years of service to the RIC. Given evidence, his fellow officers stated that they had not seen the assassin and that visibility was poor owing to the darkness and heavy rainfall. They were praised for their calmness in the situation and no fire was returned. In his book, We Bled Together: Michael Collins, The Squad and the Dublin Brigade, Dominic Price recounts the killing of Finnerty as told by Captain John Gaynor, of the Balbriggan Company of the 1st Battalion Fingal Brigade who fired the fatal shot. According to Gaynor he anticipated that Finnerty would try and remove a tricolour flag which was on display. In his own words: ‘Finnerty made a dash to seize the flag, which was in the center of the procession. I immediately pulled a revolver from my pocket and dropped him’.  Patrick Finnerty was buried in his native Athenry,  County Galway.

    Download Source: Belfast Newsletter, 19 April 1920, page 5; See also Irish Examiner, April 17, 1920; Page: 11

    Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, Monday, April 19, 1920                                       Irish Examiner 1841-current, Saturday, April 17, 1920

    Irish Examiner 1841-current, Saturday, April 17,

    1920 Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, Monday, April 19, 1920

  • Farmer Brutally Assaulted - April 1920

    11 April 1920 Irish War oF Independence Farmer assaulted

    April 1920 started with the largest scale IRA activity to date in the War of Independence with the systematic targeting of abandoned RIC barracks and other buildings. It was a month during which the issue of Irish independence would be brought to an international audience, while it continued to be a time of terror in Ireland. The RIC remained the open target of the IRA, but on a number of occasions in April the RIC would claim victory. Elsewhere, land-related issues continued to flare as anarchy set in across the country.

    Irish War of Independence - Farmers Assaulted -

    Described as a ‘savage’ attack in which the farmer was ‘waylaid’ by a number of men, the beating received by James Flanagan, an aged farmer of Fahereen Grange, near Athlone, County Westmeath revealed much about the local dimension of the Irish War of Independence.  Harking back to the Famine, and the eviction of tenants, the attack near Moate suggested that old scores were being settled as agitation for land commenced. Flanagan described as the holder of 120 acres of land, ‘comfortable’ and an inoffensive man, was attacked and dangerously beaten as he made his way home from Moate fair. Some days prior to the attack he had told friends that he had received threatening letters indicating that he would be shot. Bitter memories of nineteenth-century evictions were expressed in the threatening letters. Presenting a ‘revolting spectacle’, Flanagan’s nose being completely shattered and his forehead opened in two places. In the same month a young man named  Flynn, a farmer's son, was shot and wounded in another land dispute near the border of Westmeath and King’s County (Offaly). Armed and disguised men broke into the house and dragged the family into the yard where they shot Kieran Flynn in the arm. Before leaving, the Flynns were warned to quit the farm, money was taken from them and an attempt was made to set fire to the house.

    Source: Evening Herald, 9 April 1920, page 1; See also Freemans Journal 1763-1924, 06.04.1920, page 3

    Evening Herald  Friday, April 09, 1920

    Twitter: #Agrarian attacks in #Westmeath in disputes over #land during April 1920 #irishhistory #irishwarofindependence  @ciaranjreilly

  • Tipperary IRA Ambush Shot 2 Policemen - 09.April.1920

    IRA Kill two policemen Tipperary Ambush 09.April.1920

    April 1920 started with the largest scale IRA activity to date in the War of Independence with the systematic targeting of abandoned RIC barracks and other buildings. It was a month during which the issue of Irish independence would be brought to an international audience, while it continued to be a time of terror in Ireland. The RIC remained the open target of the IRA, but on a number of occasions in April the RIC would claim victory. Elsewhere, land-related issues continued to flare as anarchy set in across the country.

    The upsurge in IRA activity in early 1920 resulted in heavy losses for the police and the military but few were carried out with the ruthlessness or efficiency as the killing of two police constables in Newport, County Tipperary on 8 April. Ambushed by 20 masked men, Constables, Finn, McCarthy and Byrne were cycling on patrol from their barrack when they were fired at when they reached a place called Lackamore Wood. This isolated and  ‘bleak part of County Tipperary’ gave the IRA perfect cover to carry out their ambush. Constable Byrne, who was leading, received a number of shots in the shoulders and back and fell into a ditch. His two comrades were shot in the head and killed. Constable Byrne climbed over a ditch and fired his revolver in the direction of his assailants, who fled immediately. In his testimony to the military, Byrne recalled that he saw nearly 20 men running through the wood. Although badly injured Byrne managed cycle back to Newport Station, raising the alarm and then collapsed. It is believed that 30 shots were fired at the three men. Although the area was quickly flooded with military, no arrests. A Police District Inspector later recalled the scene of the attack:

    ‘we found the late Constable Finn lying on his back in the centre of the road quite dead    – both eyes were blown away and the lower part of his forehead- brain matter scattered on the road and a large pool of blood. About five years in advance...we found the late        Constable McCarthy in a sitting posture against the wall of the road and a bullet wound in his neck’.

    Download Source Irish Independent 10.Apri.1920

    IRA Ambush and kill 2 policement 10.April.1920 Irish Independent (1)

    Irish Independent Friday, April 09, 1920

  • IRA Roskeen Tipperary Attack 07.April.1920

    Irish Independent IRA Attack Roskeen 07.April.1920

    RIC Fend Off IRA Attack Roskeen Barracks 07.April.1920

    April 1920 started with the largest scale IRA activity to date in the War of Independence with the systematic targeting of abandoned RIC barracks and other buildings. It was a month during which the issue of Irish independence would be brought to an international audience, while it continued to be time of terror in Ireland. The RIC remained the open target of the IRA, but on a number of occasions in April, the RIC would claim victory. Elsewhere, land-related issues continued to flare as anarchy set in across the country.

    Not all IRA attacks on RIC barracks were successful and in many parts of the country, the police were learning from previous attacks and from communication with colleagues. At Roskeen, county Tipperary this was the case in early April 1920 when the IRA attacked this isolated barrack confident of victory. Located on a ‘lonely, open road’ seven miles from Thurles, the IRA arrived at Roskeen which numbered fourteen policemen and surrounded the building shortly after 10.30 pm on 7 April. Almost as soon as the attack commenced the RIC sent up vesey lights which could be seen for thirty miles around.  While managing to fend off the IRA attack, the RIC were confident that their message had been seen in the low lying countryside around. As with all IRA attacks of this nature telephone and telegraph wires had been cut preventing outside communication. Within a short space of time, police and military reinforcements had arrived and although firing a number of volleys at the military, the IRA attack was over and the assailants made their escape through a wooded area. The vesey light had been used by the RIC in a number of attacks but perhaps not with such effect as at Roskeen.

    Download Source: Irish Independent, 9 April 1920, page 6

    Twitter: #IRA attack on #Roskeen #RIC barrack near #Thurles #Tipperary is halted by use of ‘Vesey Lights’ & military reinforcements #Irishhistory #Irishwarofindependence

    Irish Independent Friday, April 09, 1920 Thumbnail (1)

    Irish Independent Friday, April 09, 1920

  • 100 Mountjoy Prisoners on Hunger Strike 05.April.1920

    Irish Examiner 05.April.1920 Hunger Strike 100 Mountjoy Prisoners on hunger strike 05.April.1920

    Above: Crowds outside Mountjoy Jail cheering news of the granting of political status to the 104 republican hunger-strikers within in April 1920. (New York Times) & history Ireland

    Prison Hunger Strike - Cork Examiner 05.April.1920

    April 1920 started with the largest scale IRA activity to date in the War of Independence with the systematic targeting of abandoned RIC barracks and other buildings. It was a month during which the issue of Irish independence would be brought to an international audience, while it continued to be a time of terror in Ireland. The RIC remained the open target of the IRA, but on a number of occasions in April, the RIC would claim victory. Elsewhere, land-related issues continued to flare as anarchy set in across the country.

    In early April 1920 IRA prisoners, some held with a charge for over six weeks, began to formulate a plan to carry out a hunger strike in Mountjoy Prison, Dublin where they demanded prisoner of war status. ‘Great excitement’ reigned in Dublin on Monday night 5 April when it was learned that the hunger strike had commenced. The previous Thursday the prisoners, all held in one wing started to destroy all the furniture and fittings in the cells, and in a number of instances, the walls of cells were broken allowing prisoners to mix together. Although handcuffed it did not deter them from wreaking havoc on the building.  In total about 100 prisoners held under the Defence of the Realm Act commenced a hunger strike, refusing food.  Crowds of sympathisers have gathered outside the prison and have started to sing songs in an effort to help the prisoners during their hunger strike The hunger strike would last for two weeks as the crowds began to mass in huge numbers outside the prison. Led by members of Cummann a Mban an estimated crowd of 20,000 people gathered. A general labour strike commenced across the country before the British government was forced to back down and released the hunger strikers.

    Download Source: Irish Examiner, 7 April 1920; Page: 5;

    April 1920 Hunger strike 100 men mountjoy Cork Examiner

    Irish Examiner 05.April.1920 Hunger Strike

  • 100 Police Barracks Burned Evening Herald 05.April.1920 Irish War of Independence

    War of Independence - 100 Police Barracks Burned

    April 1920 started with the largest scale IRA activity to date in the War of Independence with the systematic targeting of abandoned RIC barracks and other buildings. It was a month during which the issue of Irish independence would be brought to an international audience, while it continued to be time of terror in Ireland. The RIC remained the open target of the IRA, but on a number of occasions in April the RIC would claim victory. Elsewhere, land related issues continued to flare as anarchy set in across the country.

    In what was a perfectly executed plan, involving IRA units all across the country, the IRA burned over 100 abandoned RIC barracks in rural areas and almost 100 income tax offices. The Evening Herald newspaper estimated that large parties of men must have been involved in this well coordinated plan across the country. A feature again was the cutting of telegraph wires, while explosives were used in many attacks. Many of the barracks had been abandoned by the RIC since the IRA campaign targeting them gathered pace from January 1920 onwards. In some cases where the wives and children of the RIC constables had been left behind as caretakers, the IRA help removed the occupants and their belongings. In some areas, such as in county Kildare, which until this point had witnessed a limited number of attacks on the military, the precision of IRA units was signalled out by the IRA’s GHQ.  On that night RIC barracks at Lumville, Donadea, Ballinadrimna, Clane, Ballitore, Kilteel, Carbury, Maynooth, Sallins, Castledermot, Ballymore-Eustace and Kill amongst others were burned in Kildare .On the same night income tax offices were also targeted and documents destroyed and burned. The IRA’s raison d’etre was now to make it impossible for British rule to continue in Ireland.

    Download Source: Evening Herald, 5 April 1920, page 1 ; See also Kerryman, 10 April 1920, page 1

    Kerryman 10.April.1920 Police barracks burned                                  Evening Herald 1920 April 05 - Police Barracks burned

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