Monthly Archives: July 2020

  • Labourers Grievances July 1920

    Labourers Grievances July 1920

    As we have already seen, the cause of labour was very much to the fore in every town and village across the country in July 1920 where agricultural labourers and others aired their grievances.

    In Dublin and other large centres it was very much the same scenario although involving workers in a different industries. In July Dublin drapers rejected proposals for wage increases, while the issue of holiday entitlements and the number of working hours in the week were also dissatisfactory. More successful were the Dublin ironmongers who accepted the proposed terms, while others such as the Dublin Coach and Van Builders continued to press for their requirements. There was an outcry at the ‘scandalous’ wages being paid to grocers porters and other assistants. In what was seen as a great victory for these workers, Messrs Delahunt agreed to increase the wages of their staff which gave hope that others would follow suit. Elsewhere, there were victories for Shelbourne Park groundskeepers, saw mill operatives and the Dublin Mineral Water production workers. Yet, not everybody was happy with the growing trade unionism within Dublin. When bricklayers and stonemasons went on strike there was outrage that they did not consult other workers on these building sites who were evidently hampered by their actions. These cases were but a sample of the industrial unrest which continued to grow as the War of Independence intensified.


    Source: The Watchword of Labour 1919-1920, Saturday, July 24, 1920, page 7

    Labourers Grievances July 1920WW_1920_pag7

  • Guerilla Warfare Tips July 1920

    Guerilla Warfare Tips July 1920

    By July 1920 the IRA had intensified its campaign and sought new methods in engaging the military and police.


    While some had studied the practice of warfare in other countries, more practical advice was also supplied to volunteers through radical newspapers such as an t-Oglach. Military instruction was offered in the engineering notes of the newspaper on the use of paraffin oil for arson, which was deemed to be better than petrol. This would be put to great use by volunteers as they attacked country houses and finished off the remaining RIC barracks across the country. Lessons had been learned over the course of the previous year when heavily mounted attacks failed to inflict the intended damage on RIC barracks, tax offices and courts houses. Volunteers were also encouraged to study maps of their own district and see where the potential existed to use the landscape to their advantage when engaging with the military. It also published a programme for guerilla war encouraging volunteers to fight on and use all of their energy to win the fight. According to an t-Oglach the military had been driven from the countryside, but war must be pushed on with ‘determination and vigour’. Overall, the cry of the volunteer 100 years ago this month was ‘forward’.


    Source: An t-oglach, 1 July 1920, page 5


    Guerilla Warfare Tips July 1920Oglac_1_July_1920_pg4

  • National Labour Struggle - July 1920

    National Struggle

    Labour disputes all across Ireland continued in July 1920 and were championed by newspapers such as The Watchword of Labour.

    In its pages amid the ongoing War of Independence, The Watchword carried news of these ongoing labour disputes which were in many communities as the national struggle. In Killucan, county Westmeath there was an ongoing dispute over payment to farm workers from which farmers had tried to renege from the settlement reached; It was similar scenario around Aughrim, county Wicklow where farm labourers had secured an increase in wages after dispute. In Navan and Newbridge those engaged in the equine business also agreed to an increase in wages to stable workers. In Bandon, Newry and Galway road workers continued to push their case for an increase in wages. The condition of work for these men were also challenged; in county Meath it was agreed that it would be a fifty hour week with a 1pm finish on a Saturday. Where employers would not meet the demands of workers there was an inevitable result. In Lucan, county Dublin the ITGWU organised the complete stop of the woolen mills there. Yet even within these forces of labour representation there was dissent. In the village of Castlejordan on the Meath/Offaly border dispute between the ITGWU representatives and those in the farmers unions were evident. Cleverly, agricultural labourers in this border post had claimed and won the wages of their compatriots in Meath who earned two shillings more than those in Offaly.

    Source: The Watchword of Labour 1919-1920, Saturday, July 24, 1920, page 8

    National Labour Struggle WW_24Jul1920pg8

  • Wexford Murder - July 1920

    Wexford Murder

    The murder of James Dunne in Ferns, county Wexford in early July 1920 highlighted the rapacity with which the British military were prepared the engage with as the Irish War of Independence continued.

    Stopping at a public house in Ferns for a drink, two policemen asked Dunne to join them. When he refused the request, the soldiers became infuriated and began to shoot up the public house and shop. When Dunne left he was pursued by the two policemen, one of whom overtook him and fired four revolver shots into him. A native of Cortown, Dunne, it was claimed had no political associations and this his murder shocked that locality and there was considerable resentment towards the police and the military. The inquest found that Dunne had been hit by four bullets and that he had died in a few minutes. Another man, Patrick Kelly who was with Dunne in the public house ran for safety and was also fired on. It was a deliberate attack on the civilian population and occurred in the same week as the people of Cashel, Tipperary were attacked by the military as they were in the process of decorating the town. Preparing for the visit of the Bishop of San Francisco and the Bishop of Los Angeles the military tore down the decorations and forbid them to erect others.


    Source: The Irish Bulletin 1918-1921, Wednesday, July 07, 1920, page 1

    Wexford Murder Irish_Bulletin_07Jul1920

  • Torched Big Houses - July 1920

    Torched Big Houses

    By mid 1920 the IRA had turned their attention from raiding country houses for weapons to occupying and burning them.

    Using the pretense that the house was soon to be occupied by the military, the IRA torched these ‘Big Houses’. Already a number including those in Offaly, Limerick and Wicklow had been burned. Usually allowing the occupants about fifteen minutes to whatever contents they wished, it was a scene reenacted about 300 times before the end of the Civil War in 1923. The raid on Glendalough House, near Annamoe in county Wicklow then in July 1920 was of a different pattern. The home of Robert Barton MP for West Wicklow who was serving three years in prison was raided by several hundred members of the British military. There they proceeded to ‘ransack’ the house and grounds. During the search barbed wire blocked all the approaches, armoured cars patrolled the avenues and aero planes circled overhead. All that was found in the hour long search was a Sinn Fein flag and an antique gun. The three ladies and their female servants present in the house were said to have been shaken by the ordeal. Over a year later Barton was released from prison and of course would play a major role in the treaty negotiations. Travelling to London with the Irish delegation who included his cousin, Erskine Childers, Barton reluctantly signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty in December 1921.

    Source: Irish Bulletin, 24 July 1920, page 1


    Screen Shot 2020-07-21 at 12.49.41 IrishBulletin_Jul

  • Military Strike Back - July 1920

    Military Strike Back

    As the IRA attempted to make the country ungovernable, in July the Military struck back with almost daily raids on houses and business premises, stopping people as they went about their daily life.

    Their idea was to make the country unliveable and to deny the IRA the use of its civilian support network, which of course was crucial to their success in the war. A series of raids were carried out in county Cork in July 1920 which both antagonised and enraged the local population. In Castletownroche, during a raid on the O’Neill home, three sons of the owner were placed against the wall and threatened that they would be shot. Raids were carried out on almost a dozen houses in the village of Killeagh in East Cork and a man named Brown arrested. When four men in the village of Grenagh, near Mallow were arrested without cause by the military one of the men was mauled by a bloodhound. In Cork City a man named Doherty was shot while standing outside a church where he was talking to a number of people. In Cork city there was widespread displeasure at the military announcement that a curfew between 10pm and 3am would come into affect within three miles of the city’s general post office.


    Source: Irish Bulletin, 17 July 1920 page 2

    Military Strike backIrishBulletin_17Jul_page2

  • An t-Oglac - 1916 Rising Mistakes

    An t-Oglac

    In the wake of the 1916 Rising Republican leaders realised that mistakes had been made in the planning and implementation of the rising.

    Indeed, it was realised that several generations of republicans had done likewise. In the intervening period IRA leaders began to study the guerilla warfare tactics of the Boer army in South Africa, while Michael Collins and others had been in communication with Boer generals. In July 1920 the republican newspaper, An t-Oglac highlighted the various lessons which were to be learned from conflicts across the world including in East Africa where attacks on the Ugandan railway ‘were instructive for Irish republicans’. The suggestion here was that the IRA would continue to force the RIC and the military to concentrate their efforts on defensive structures. Even with these success An t-Oglac warned that the IRA should continue to carry out more training of its volunteers and to keep gathering intelligence, which would be a key factor in the outcome of the war. The newspaper also appealed to battalion leaders and company captains to ensure that volunteers were ‘specialists’ owing to the varied work they carry out. Every company, An t-Oglac believed should have snipers, grenadiers, engineers and first aid men. Grading men according to their ability was an important consideration.

    Source: An t-Oglac, 1 July 1920, page 4

    An t-OglacAn t-Oglac

  • Bellowstown Raids - July 1920

    Bellowstown Raids

    Ernie O’Malley’s great account of the Irish War of Independence and the subsequent Civil War was entitled ‘Raids and Rallies’.

    In July 1920 raids of a different nature were carried out all across the country by the British military who were determined to exert their influence and to turn the tide of the war. In county Meath it seems not even a church was safe. At Bellewstown, the Catholic Church in the village was forcibly entered by the military who proceeded to search of weapons. The raid on Bellewstown was not an isolated incident and many priests who displayed republican sympathies were targeted by the military, particularly the newly arrived recruits in the summer of 1920. On the same day, a raid on the Bellewstown races in county Meath where the crowd were searched was an attempt to disrupt the social world of county Meath. Likewise, the inhabitants of the village of Rathduff, county Westmeath experienced the wrath of the military who raided more than forty houses on a single day. In Rathduff a young man named McCarthy was arrested and brought away by the military although there was no charge against him. In a clear sign that they were intent on preventing people from carrying out their daily activities the military searched all trains inbound and outbound in Mullingar, which caused difficulty for people and business in the midlands town.

    Source: Irish Bulletin, 17 July 1920, page 1.

    Bellowstown RaidsIrishBulletin July 1920

  • Irish Volunteer Shot - July 1920

     Irish Volunteer Shot - July 1920

    The murder of James (or Seamus) Cogan, a member of the Irish Volunteers, shot dead in Oldscastle, county Meath on 21 July 1920 was a deliberate attempt to try and regain control at a local level.

    The British military, particularly the newly arrived recruits, were determined to prevent the holding of Republican courts and stamp out the authority of the Republican police. When members of the Oldcastle Republican Police were transferring a noted ‘cattle stealer’ to court they were stopped by the police who called on them to halt. Ignoring the call, Cogan was shot as his comrades proceeded on their business. The republican police returned fire and engaged the military before bringing Cogan’s body to safety where they proceeded to give him a military burial. Seven days later Cogan’s funeral took place in the village of Ballinlough. In a huge display of defiance, more than a thousand volunteers marched behind the funeral procession, while local members of the G.A.A, Sinn Fein, and the Gaelic League were also present. The killing of Cogan, one of the most respected leaders of the Meath IRA, came at a time when they were actively trying to restore law and order to the county after months of agrarian unrest, some of which this blog has highlighted in the past. Today, a memorial stands to Cogan, unveiled in 1961, stands in Oldcastle village stating that he had been ‘faithful until death’.

    Source: Irish Bulletin, 24 July 1920, page 10.

    Irish Volunteer Shot Irish Bulletin -24.July.1920

  • Irish War Of Independence-Killmallock-1920

    Irish War Of Independence-Killmallock-1920

    The wreck of the town Killmallock in county Limerick in July 1920 emphasised how violent the military response to IRA actions could be.


    During the night of the 23 July the military arrived in Killmallock, county Limerick in lorries and having alighted from them sprayed the towns houses and business premises with a volley of bullets. The attack on the village sent came as a terrifying surprise to its inhabitants. The military then began to set fire to a number of buildings, mainly business premises but in which a number of people were resident. At Lyons Hotel the military attempted to shoot two waitresses and wounded a man named Duggan during their attack. From there they went to Herlihy’s shop where they tried to shoot the owner, but he escaped. A Mr O’Rourke escaped his premises but broke his leg in the process, while a Mr O’Callaghan was violently beaten in his garden with rifle butts. The military then proceeded to burn the premises of William O’Carroll, Mr O’Keefe and John Cahill’s drapery business. The damage done to property was estimated at £6,000. On the same night the military burned the Carnegie Library in Newcastle West, a newly erected building. They also damaged the Creamery in the town and several homes belonging to prominent republicans. Organised to strike fear into the local population, it most cases it had the opposite effect.


    Source: Irish Bulletin, 31 July 1920, page 2.


    Irish War Of Independence-Killmallock-1920 IrishBulletin_31July1920page2

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