Monthly Archives: August 2020

  • Castlerea Destruction - Aug 1920

    Castlerea Destruction - Aug 1920

    The destruction of the town of Castlerea, county Roscommon on the night of 3 August 1920 caused a sensation throughout the county.

    Eight men dressed in waterproof coasts and slouched hats, and without warning attacked three men who were standing on the footpath. Windows were smashed in many of the towns businesses and civilians were assaulted. One of the men assaulted, called Hanley, a shop assistant, were seriously injured. It was assumed that the disguised men belonged to the military or the police. When they reached the premises of a grocer, Joseph Carroll, they fired large stones at the windows, destroying them in the process. Several people sleeping in the premises managed to escape the attack by hiding under their beds. It was believed that the reason for the attack was that some of the shop assistants were members of the Sinn Fein organisation. Two of the men involved in the attack were identified as local RIC constables who were said to have been aggrieved that they were refused service in local shops as the boycotting of the police continued in the local area. The rampage it seems had the desired effect as later in August it was announced that shopkeepers in Castlerea decided to supply provisions to the police.


    Source: Freemans Journal, 3 Aug. 1920, page 3

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  • Two Women Assaulted - Aug 1920

     Two Women Assaulted

    In early August 1920 the people of Navan assembled at the local court.

    Held in the town’s RIC barracks, to hear the case of two young men, James Dalton and Patrick Kane who it was alleged had presented revolvers, threatened and cut of the hair of two girls, Margaret Cooney and Bridget Faulkner.

    Soldiers it was alleged were present at the time of the assault, perhaps suggesting the reason why the girls were targeted in the first place. When they returned to the barracks and reported what had occurred a detachment of the military was sent out to apprehend the culprits but to no avail. During the search one soldier was accidentally shot in the foot. As the Irish War of Independence intensified the IRA prohibited this form of fraternising with the enemy, in particular soldiers, and anyone deemed to have broken that code was dealt with severely. The incident in question occurred on a Saturday evening and the following day there were skirmishes at the towns show grounds as a result of the assault. In the end the defendants were granted bail for £100 each and two sureties were given for them.


    Source: Leinster Leader 1881-1929, 07.08.1920, page 5

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  • Newspaper Photos - Aug 1920

     Newspaper Photos

    One of the features of the Irish newspaper industry at this time was the emergence of photographs, which gradually overtook sketches and cartoons.

    The Irish Examiner newspaper was among a number who regularly carried images in their pages, highlighting an number of important aspects of Irish life in the process. In early August 1920 the Examiner carried images of members of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union who enjoyed a boat trip during the conference which took place in Cork, providing faces to many of the important players in the Labour struggle in Ireland in 1920. Likewise, a photograph of the Cork Volunteers Pipers Band (does any other image exist?) highlights an important cultural aspect of the independence movement. The Cove Rowing Club and the Killarney Total Abstinence Society are also pictured highlighting the diverse social world of Ireland in 1920. However, the most interesting image in that edition is that of the volunteers in county Kerry who came to the rescue of Mr JS Taylor and helped repair his house in the Glencar Mountains after it sustained an attack, presumably by the British military. The house, which contained a family (and one in his eighties), was consumed by flames in the middle of the night when the attack commenced. The following day more than 60 volunteers, some of whom are picture, helped to clear the debris and rebuild the house. Such defiance highlighted that military brutality would not break the people.


    Source: Irish Examiner 1841-current, 05.08.1920, page 5


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  • New Powers - Aug 1920

    New Powers - Aug 1920

    In August 1920 the British Government introduced the Restoration of Order in Ireland Act in an effort to gain control amid the growing lawlessness which prevailed across the country.

    These new powers gave the military more authority with respect to arrests and raids, which duly increased as the month unfolded. In many instances, the military and police acted beyond the law and increased their intimidation of the civilian population. However, it had little effect and the IRA attacks on RIC and military patrols continued resulting in the deaths of more than six constables while several others were severely wounded.

    By August 1920 most RIC barracks throughout the country had been attacked or raided for arms. Many lay a smouldering heap of ruins and abandoned by the police. The destruction of the barracks, particularly in rural areas allowed the IRA to roam with impunity and control vast swathes of the countryside. The police had also endured repeated attacks as they went on patrol, and by the summer of 1920 they were also targeted coming from mass and other social gatherings. Members of the RIC were also ostracised from the local community, shunned for local shops or from partaking in other ways in the community, which they had enjoyed prior to the War of Independence. In August several RIC fearful for their lives and perhaps fed up with the constant harassment resigned their posts. Surviving an IRA attack, Constable O’Reilly resigned his post in Killorglin, county Kerry, as did Constable Reddington, a veteran of the First World War. Several others in Killorglin did likewise. In troubled Bandon, Waterford native John Aherne also resigned his post fearing for his safety, while in Charleville in the same county Constable Flannery did likewise. These were just a few examples of many RIC men who quit their posts as the War lingered on. In September George Morley, an RIC constable based in county Offaly committed suicide so difficult had his situation become.


    Source: Irish Examiner 1841-current, 05.08.1920, page 5

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  • Streamstown July 1920

    Streamstown July 1920

    One of the most daring attacks of the Irish War of Independence was carried out in late July 1920 when more than sixty armed men stormed the RIC barracks in the village of Streamstown, county Westmeath.

    The constabulary were completely overwhelmed being only eight in number, three of home were apprehended returning from Divine Service where they were stripped of the weapons and uniform. What made the attack so daring was the fact that the raiders were not masked (as reported in some newspapers) but instead dressed in police uniform. Casually knocking on the door the raiders were refused entry. The building was then surrounded and raked with gun fire. When the occupants of the barracks refused to surrender fire was kept up for another hour. The roof of the building was riddled with bullets and bombs, but sensing reinforcements and having heard the noise of aero planes overheard the raiders withdrew. That night the barracks was evacuated. One policeman was injured in the shooting but there was no further injuries sustained. Four bicycles were found by the RIC after the attack indicating that some had travelled a distance to take part in the attack. This was a daring attack carried out in broad daylight just after noon but few civilians were present, obviously forewarned by the IRA. The demise of the barracks strengthened the IRA’s grip on the Westmeath countryside and therefore the Streamstown attack was widely celebrated.


    Source: Westmeath Independent 1848-current, 31.07.1920, page 5


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