Monthly Archives: December 2020

  • Single Day of Violence - December 1920


    On Christmas Day 1920 the Connacht Tribune published accounts of the violence which had occurred across the country on a single day, 18 December.


    The casualties included the military, members of the IRA and civilians as the catalogue of murder continued. At Ennistymon, county Clare news was received of an ambush at Gallery’s Cross, which although numbered more than 100 IRA men the military were not overpowered owing to their use of a Lewis gun. Four of the military and two policemen were killed, while it was reported that three of the attackers were killed. At Cashel, county Tipperary on the same day two men James Looby and William Delaney were taken into custody and shot dead by the military. In county Kerry a farmer and father of seven children was shot dead, although it was not clear who had shot him. In Swanlibar in county Cavan RIC Constable Shannon was shot and a Sergt Monaghan severly wounded. In the same county a daring raid was made on the RIC barracks in Ballyjamesduff, although the twelve strong garrison defended their position. In county Cork, Cornelius Delaney was shot dead one week after his brother Joseph suffered the same fate. In Tipperary two soldiers, members of the ‘Lincolns’ were ambushed and killed between Galbally and Mitchelstown. Four other members of the unit were injured in the attack. The reports stated that ‘fierce fire’ rang out between both parties. Shortly after midnight, the large grocery and spirit store of Laurence Hayes in Main Street, Tipperary was burned to the ground in reprisal.


    Source: Connacht Tribune 1909-current, Saturday, December 25, 1920

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  • Murder Condemned - December 1920


    The murder of District Inspector Philip J. O’Sullivan, RIC, son of F O’Sullivan, a solicitor in Kinsale, Cork was widely condemned in Dublin as crowds gathered in nearby shopping premises on the evening of 17 December.


    Just after 6pm as O’Sullivan left his ‘sweetheart’, a Miss Moore to whom he was engaged, at Nelson’s Pillar he was shot dead in Henry Street. Just after O’Sullivan had exchanged greetings with his fiancée a stranger approached him and shot him through the left eye. The assailant and his companion quickly disappeared. The victim was only 22 years old and had been demobilised from the Royal Navy before joining the RIC. Although briefly serving in the First World War, O’Sullivan was awarded the was awarded the Military Cross for bravery during the Second battle of Durazzo, Albania in October 1918. Official reports stated that Miss Moore had managed to disarm one of the assailants before the other shot a second bullet at O’Sullivan. It was stated that nobody present would give any assistance to the lady when it was discovered that the deceased was a police man. It was later claimed that a man from Kinsale had been sent up to Dublin to assist Michael Collin’s ‘Squad’ in assisting with the indefication of O’Sullivan. Joe Byrne, one of the most prominent members of the ‘Squad’ recalls the incident in his Bureau of Military History Witness Statement claiming that he was part of a look out party which took part in the killing. Sullivan was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery on 20 December.


    Source: Connacht Tribune 1909-current, Saturday, December 25, 192, page

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  • Aran Islanders Killed - December 1920


    Few of our blog posts so far have treated how the War of Independence impacted Ireland’s islands the communities which lived on them.

    In December 1920 the Aran islands off the coast of Galway were deeply impacted by a military search which resulted in the deaths of two islanders. Early on the morning of 19 December the military, having left Galway and proceeded to search the village of Kilronan and the houses. Dressed in full military equipment and with machine guns on the cruiser, the military came in search of a number of men ‘on the run’ were believed to have taken refuge on the island. The military proceeded to station themselves on the hills and every vantage point as others searched the village. As the fog lifted on the following morning the sentinels were approached by armed men who opened fire on them. Two men were shot while trying to escape on the hills over Kilronan. Eleven prisoners were taken to Galway on the destroyed and lodged in an internment camp which had been established at the Town Hall. The dead men were named as Laurence MacDonagh and Michael Mannister. One other man was injured in the attack, while another named Folan was said to have made a daring escape, jumping over a cliff in an effort to evade the military. The military took no chances when searching the island and were even said to have arrested the clerk of the petty sessions. A military inquiry was due to take place into the deaths of the two men but the boat bringing members of the jury was unable to land owing to inclement weather.


    Source: Connacht Tribune 1909-current, Saturday, December 25, 1920, page 5


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  • Daring Cork Ambush - December 1920


    On 11 December 1920 an auxiliary cadet was killed in an ambush in county Cork in which eleven others were wounded.


    The ambush, which obviously took the military by surprise, took place within half a mile of the military barracks, and bombs were thrown into the motor lorry in which the cadets were. The Cadet killed is F. S. X. Chapman of Westcliff-on-Sea, England. It is believed that the attacking party escaped without injury. The cadets were passing Dillon’s Cross, Cork City when they were suddenly attacked and bomb. The attack was over within seconds and the raiding party withdrew as soon as the bombs exploded. The members of the police party attended to their wounded comrades, but little could be done for Chapman who died the following day from wounds received. Several houses in the locality were damaged and as with other attacks, the inhabitants of the district spent the night in terror expecting. One civilian house was said to have been injured in the affray. Four men were subsequently arrested following a number of searches by the military. The casualties included Cadets M. C. Barrington, J. L. Emmanuel, DB C McMonagle, CM Cautley, EC Cumming, W Longhurst, A. Anderton, WM Moon, E Wells, and FH Milies. Another cadet, CA Worrall was slightly wounded. The attack on the Auxiliaries prompted the military to attack Cork City and a night off terror followed, the damage during which we have outlined in a separate post this month.


    Source: Irish Independent 1905-current, Monday, December 13, 1920; Page: 5

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  • Christmas in Ireland 1920


    What was Christmas 1920 in Ireland like as the War of Independence raged all around?


    The radical newspaper, Eire Og: Young Ireland provided an insight into the type of goods and products which were advertised for sale in the weeks leading up to Christmas as the Republican movement called on people to support the war effort. On Pearse Street, George Lyons had a ‘Sinn Fein Series of Xmas Cards’ for sale which were adopted by the Friends of Irish Freedom in USA and Australia. Likewise, G Irvine on Mountpleasant Square, Dublin had ‘Xmas Cards’ for sale with the cry ‘Let Erin Remember’. In Cork, Liam Ruiseal had the following books on sale, all of which were being sold in an effort to promote a love of Ireland and the republican movement: Daniel Corkery’s, The Yellow Bittern, The Labour Leader and the Hounds of Banba. Other books for sale included those of Canon Sheehan and Standish O’Grady. There were Irish calendars with Celtic designs and a host of juvenile books of the same nature. Elsewhere, Wilson Hartnell in Dublin sold a host of books including the ‘Premier Irish Annual’ which included stories such as ‘The victorious Irish at Fontenoy’ and ‘The nobler Belfast’, a story about how the city fought the union. Whelan & Son on Ormond Quay, Dublin advertised the sale of a host of Christmas cards which were designed by Brian O’Higgins, TD. Described as ‘dainty booklets with different coloured covers and neat Celtic borders’, many featured historical scenes including at the aforementioned Battle of Fontenoy.


    Source: Eire Og: Young Ireland, 18 December 1920, page 4

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  • The Dead of the Irish Revolution - December 1920

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    The recent publication of the book, The Dead of the Irish Revolution catalogues the deaths of over 2,300 people in Ireland between the years, 1917-1921.


    Among them were several civilians who were killed during the month of December 1920. Some of these deaths were included in the newspaper Eire Og: Young Ireland and other radical journals who were keen to highlight at every opportunity cases of British injustice. The dead included Michael Murphy of Tower Street, Cork shot dead as he was leaving SS Peter and Paul’s Church on 8 December; Thomas Crotty of Cragahock, shot an arbitration court hearing; John Fleming shot dead on the 6 December on the corner of Water Street and Lower Road, Cork. The latter had served for over twenty years in the British navy and had survived the Battle of Jutland. At Ballyshannon, a man named Thomas Rooney was shot dead by the military when he failed to halt. A young labourer named Bernard Doyle was found dead in the graveyard of the Protestant church in Dunboyne, county Meath. He had been shot in the head and through the body. Denis Regan was found dead midway between Clonakilty and Timoleague with a bullet wound to the head. William Owned, aged 24 died of wounds received during a military raid near Bray, county Wicklow. This was just some of the terrors inflicted upon civilians that month. Such was life in Ireland during December 1920.


    Source: Eire Og: Young Ireland, 18 December 1920, page 1

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  • Vengeance in Cork - December 1920


    The military response to the ambush at Kilmichael and the other attacks on crown forces in November 1920 came with vengeance in Cork City on the night of 11-12 December.


    Rampaging through the city hundreds of premises were destroyed or badly damaged. On that same night, the old City Hall on Albert Quay and the old Carnegie Library on Anglesey Street were also destroyed by fire. In the days that followed the Eire Og: Young Ireland newspaper reported on the losses which the merchants and shopkeepers of Cork experienced. On Patrick’s Street they included: J O’Sullivan, tobacconist; J. Woulfe, ladies outfitter; Roches Stores; Lee Boot manufacturing company; Scully and O’Connell, outfitters; T Thompson & Co, fancy goods; R Cudmore, fruiters; Burton & Co, merchant tailors; Saxone Shoe Company; O’Regan’s hosiers; Munster Arcade and William Egan, jeweller. On Winthrop Street, the Lee Cinema was destroyed, as was WJ Tomkins and Son, wine and spirt merchants. On Oliver Plunket Street, K Ahearn, a vintner; C Bateman, a boot factory and Patrick Forde, a vintner. On Cook Street, almost all of the premises on the eastern side of the street including Noonan, vintner and E. Woods, a wine merchant were destroyed. On Robert Street, the Munster Arcade Laundry; Shandon Printing & bookselling Works; D Mulcahy, ironworks and Maurice Hogan’s premises were badly damaged. The carnage continued on Morgan Street, Caroline Street and Mayor Street. Shop after shop were destroyed. On the morning of 12 December Cork was a smouldering mass of ruins.


    Source: Eire Og: Young Ireland, 18 December 1920, page 1


  • Sack Of Ballinalee - December 1920


    On Monday 13 December 1920 ‘crown forces’ wrecked and sacked in full daylight the town of Ballinalee, county Longford following an attack on the police barracks by the IRA.


    The destruction of the house of Mr Heraty, partially destroyed on 10 December during the IRA attack was finally flattened. The farmhouses, stables and crops of J Hannigan and P Bracken were destroyed, while P Earley and Miss Hannigan’s shop were burned down. Nine other houses in the village were also seriously damaged. JJ Connolly’s house which stood a mile from the village was destroyed, while three of his cows were shot dead. Other houses were damaged outside the village while a pony belonging to Mr Hughes was shot dead. When a Mr Keogh’s house would not burn, the military carried the furniture out and burned it in the yard. The Bulletin’s account of the ‘Sack of Ballinalee’ does not mention the fact that RIC Constable Frederick Taylor had been shot dead earlier in the day when the IRA opened fire on the barracks. Three other constables were injured in the attack. The police managed to hold the building which had been commandeered a few days previously to act as a temporary barracks. Having blown the wall in, it was claimed that the IRA called on the garrison to surrender but they replied by signing ‘God Save the King’. The garrison of twenty-seven men defended their position and although the house belonging to Patrick Farrell was badly damaged, it did not fall to the IRA.


    Source: The Irish Bulletin, 18 December 1920, page 4


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  • Thurles Awful Attack - December 1920


    The town of Thurles, county Tipperary began December 1920 reeling from the news of the murderous attack made on two young men who had been playing cards in the a house at a place called Mullaunbrack.


    In total, four young men, all known in local GAA circles assembled in the house of Patrick Ryan, a farmer. The card players heard a military lorry approaching and when a man dressed in civilian clothes called to the door a shot rang out, hitting one man named Leahy in the shoulder. The shooter entered the house declaring ‘Tom O’Loughlin, you’re the man I want’ and fired a shot at him wounding him in the arm. Attacking his assailant, O’Loughlin was hit several times. Both men were transferred to Thurles Hospital after the attack. Dr Harty, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, preaching the next morning strongly denounced the attack. About the same time as the attack at Mullaunabrack, another house was raided at Ballycahill. On this occasion, and not for the first time, Edward Maher was dragged from his house and threatened to be shot. As it had been in the past, Tipperary was proving troublesome. Of course, these events may well have been in recompense as news filtered through of the ambush of Kilmichael, county Cork on 28 November. Indeed, in the same edition of The Nationalist newspaper in which the Thurles attacks featured, news of Kilmichael, described as ‘awful’ by the newspaper was carried.


    Source: The Nationalist (Tipperary) 1889-current, Wednesday, December 01, 1920; Page: 3

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  • Attacks On Crown Forces - December 1920


    What did Ireland’s newspapers say about the revolution which was occurring in every town and village around the country in December 1920. The Irish Newspaper Archive and the Radical Newspaper Archive has the answers. Following the month of death and carnage which had proceeded it many believed that December would be a quiet month. However, the opposite transpired.


    Although there had only been a few ‘outrages’ in Ireland in the beginning of December 1920, the week leading to the 20 December was noteworthy for a marked increase in the number of organised armed attacks on ‘Crown forces’. This included seven ambushes and three attacks were made on police barracks, as the IRA returned in many places to tactics which had proved successful in the spring of that year. In total there were 7 police and 2 soldiers killed and 6 police and 10 soldiers wounded in these attacks. Five of these, one killed, were sustained in an ambush in Kilcommon, county Tipperary on the 16 December when over 100 IRA men attacked a police patrol. On the following day, two military lorries were ambushed at Bruff district, county Limerick, and attacked with rifle and machine gun fire. Two of the military party, which consisted of nine men, were killed. The police had better luck at Ennistymon, county Clare on 18 December when two lorries were attacked but after a short and sharp engagement the IRA retreated with a number wounded. Elsewhere, police barracks were attacked in Camlough, county Armagh; Ballinalee, county Longford and Folkmills, county Wexford. The month was also noted for the fact that the military and police had swooped on over 1,000 men who had been interned Ballykinlar camp. Despite the casualties, newspaper such as the Belfast Newsletter was confident that the tide of the war was turning.



    Source: Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, Friday, December 24, 1920; Page: 5

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