Fact of the week

  • 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


     Streamstown July 1920WM_INDO_pg5

  • Irish War of Independence - Shemus Cartoons - June.1920


    Cartoons were not a new feature of the Irish newspaper business one hundred years ago but certainly was transformed by the arrival of Ernest Forbes, to the staff of the Freeman’s Journal in 1920.


    Using the pseudonym ‘Shemus’, he was the first regular cartoonist on an Irish daily newspaper and his cartoons during the during the War of Independence and Civil War were widely published and distributed. Cartoons in the radical newspapers contained in the Irish Newspaper Archive at this time also highlight the varying forms of propaganda, which were at play during the Irish War of Independence. Cartoons and depictions of what was happening in Ireland were highly effective and accompanied by accounts of actual events, were an important part of republican propaganda. Newspapers such as Old Ireland and The Sinn Feiner were just two of those who used cartoons regularly in their editions. Many of the cartoons in The Sinn Feiner newspaper 100 years ago related to thise which were used in the trial of Jerimiah O’Leary for sedition and were reproduced courtesy of ‘Bull’. In today’s blog post we hope you enjoy a selection of these which first started to appear in number from June 1920 onwards.



    Source: Old Ireland, 19 June 1920, page 310; Old Ireland, 26 June 1920, page 324; see The Sinn Feiner, 21 August 1920, page 5; The Sinn Feiner 1920-1921, Saturday, June 26, 1920







  • Irish War of Independence - The Irish Statesman - 12.June.1920

    Irish War of Independence

    Another popular newspaper in 1920 was The Irish Statesman, the organ of the Irish Dominion League.


    This weekly journal ran from June 1919 and had its final issue 100 years ago this month. Edited by Warre B. Wells and with contributions from W. B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, and George William Russell. In June 1920 among its contributors was Aodh de Blacam and Darrell Figgis. A political party formed to advocate for Dominion status for Ireland within the British Empire, it is included in its membership, both unionists and nationalists who were anxious to see a settlement between Britain and Ireland amid the ongoing conflict. The League's manifesto was first published in the journal's first issue. Significantly, much of The Irish Statesman’s focus in June was given over to issues regarding Northern Ireland and what would become of the rest. ‘There would be no peace in the twenty-six counties’ the editor opined. The creation of Northern Ireland, it claimed, would be seen as giving Home Rule to the only part which never demanded it. The newspaper also provided a platform to argue international comparisons to Ireland including in India where nationalist movements were agitating for change.


    Download Source: The Irish Statesman, 12 June 1920, page 1


    Irish_Statemans_thumbnail IRISH_STATESMAN_FRONTPAGE

  • Irish War of Independence - Republican Law Enforcement - 17.June.1920

    Irish War of independence


    Historians of the Irish revolution are well aware that few records survive which shed light on the operation of republican courts which as we have already seen this month commenced in earnest all across the country in June 1920.


    The Irish Bulletin frequently reported on the outcome of these court cases. A report in mid-June highlighted some 41 cases, 84 arrests by Republican police, which had taken place in twenty-four counties. These included the arrest of a pickpocket at Tipperary Races who was found to have money and jewellery on this possession; the arrest of two men in Bandon, county Cork who had stolen £200 from a farmer, and the recovery of stolen goods from a shop in Wexford town. The Republican courts were also used to settle industrial disputes and to enforce the by-laws of urban and district councils. In Sligo men were charged for stealing post, while in Westmeath the republican courts settled land disputes. In some cases they made provision for the protection of property which had come under attack. Perhaps the most controversial local issue was the regulation of the closing hours of public houses by the republican police as they tried to maintain law and order.


    Download Source: The Irish Bulletin 1918-1921, Thursday, June 17, 1920; Section: Front page, Page: 1


    Irish_Bulletin_17june_1920 Irish_Bulletin_17thJune_1920

  • Irish War of Independence - Labour Strikes - June.1920



    One of the features of the War of Independence in June 1920 was the escalation of labour strikes and disputes throughout the country as people began to air their grievances.


    The radical newspaper, The Watchword of Labour was to the forefront of informing the public of the nature and progress of these disputes. In county Kilkenny both county council workers and farmers unions were agitating for better pay and working conditions throughout June 1920. In Naas, county Kildare female workers in the Morton carpet factory in the town were anxious for an improvement in their wages and strike was brewing towards the end of the month. In Edenderry, county Offaly there was some success in the increase in wages for the Alesbury Timber workers who had been on strikes for some time. And in county Westmeath farmers and stud farm workers sought an increase in their wages. In some areas the strikes and labour demands caused a sensation in local areas. In Charleville, county Cork a three hour demonstration to protest against the dismissal of two workers was led by a man carrying a ‘Red Flag’ which, it was reported, was supported by people coming to their doors and shouting ‘Up the Red Flag’. We will return to the issue of Labour and strikes in another post this month.



    Download Source: See for example, The Watchword of Labour, 26 June 1920, page 4.


    Irish War of Independence - Labour Strikes - June.1920WW_26June_page4

  • Irish war of Independence - Agitation For Land - 27.May.1920

     Irish War of Independence


    May 1920 ended with a number of crimes and outrages committed as part of ongoing land disputes throughout the country.


    In Ballinrobe county Mayo the first Dail Eireann Land Court had met in May presided over by Arthur O’Connor and Kevin O’Sheil. One of the first cases before them involved nine people from Kilmaine who sought the division of land owned by the Magdalene Asylum in Galway. Every hope was displayed that they could come to an agreement and that it would be done speedily. However, towards the end of the month land disputes in other parts of the country were no so amicable. In county Clare shots were fired into the home of an elderly farmer named Thomas Killeen at Inch, near Ennis. Injuring Killeen, but not seriously, the attack was said to have had its origins in a land dispute. Likewise, at Lisdoonvarna the home of John Kerin was attacked and shots fired which wounded him in the chest and abdomen. These incidents occurred at the time when Brian O’Higgins, a founding member of the Irish Volunteers in 1913 was actively trying to organise republican courts in county Clare. Significantly, O’Higgins claimed that many of the claims for land in the county were ‘frivolous and unjust, and without foundation’ and called on the people to put trust in Dail Eireann to settle all aspects of the land question. Those who continued to send threatening letters and use violent methods would be doing so in opposition to the Dail and would have to forfeit any claim to the land.



    Download Source: Freemans Journal 1763-1924, 27.05.1920, page 5


    FreemansJournal_27May_Thumbnail FreemansJournal_27May1920_page5


  • Irish War of Independence - Five hour Siege - 28.May.1920

    Irish War of Independence

    After a month of outrages perpetrated against individuals and families, the five hour siege to attack RIC barracks throughout the county. When it was over three people were dead;


    Sergeant Thomas Kane and Constable Joseph Morton and of the IRA attacking party, Liam Scully. Over 100 IRA men took part in the attack, one of the largest operations of the conflict and were ably supported in the process by the women of Cummann na MBan. Occurring in the early hours of the morning of the 28 May, continuous rifle fire and exploding grenades filled the air for almost five hours. Calling on the policemen to surrender, the IRA at first showed leniency but once they declined to do so, the battle commenced. Learning from the attack on RIC barracks in other counties, including in county Kilkenny, the IRA took positions in neighbouring houses and used this advantage to throw petrol and paraffin bombs down upon the RIC through the roof. The defenders of the barracks, who numbered ten in total, were praised for their valiant defence of the building which they succeeded in holding despite the best efforts of the IRA. No doubt it revived memories in the village of the attack on the barracks during the 1867 Fenian Rising and from which the police force earned the title ‘Royal’. The official number of RIC in the barracks has often been disputed (some suggested that as many as 28 policemen were present), but nonetheless it was seen as a victory for the police on this occasion.



    Download Source: Irish Examiner 1841-current, 29.05.1920, page 5


    CorkExam_28thmayThumbnail Cork_Examinerpage5



  • 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

  • Formation of the GAA - 01st.November.1884

    Michael Cusack Formation of GAA 01.November.1884
    On 1 November 1884, a small and somewhat innocuous meeting took place in Thurles, County Tipperary attended only by a handful of men. However, from these humble beginnings would result the largest sporting organisation in Ireland today. Played in every village and town in the country, the formation of the Gaelic Athletic Association can be traced to this ‘meeting of athletes and friends of athletes’ at Miss Hayes’ Commercial Hotel, Thurles. Gathered there this small group of men, led by Maurice Davin and Michael Cusack, were determined to provide ‘amusements’ for ‘Irish people during their leisure hours’ and form an organisation for the cultivation of our national pastimes which by this time were said to have been ‘dead and buried’ and ‘in several localities to be entirely forgotten’.
    This initial meeting was poorly attended when several of the important athletic clubs in the south of Ireland did not send representatives. Much of the early worries were about how they would finance the movement but these considerations were soon side-lined when the delegates present spoke of their enthusiasm for such an organisation. One delegate queried ‘why should we not have athletic festivals like other people- I mean on a national scale’, while another complained that Irish affairs were constantly dictated to by Englishmen. For the record Other founding members present were John Wyse-Power, John McKay, J.K. Bracken, Joseph O’Ryan and Thomas St George McCarthy. By the end of the decade, the GAA had sprung to life and would lead the great cultural reawakening, which would define the next fifty years of Irish society.
    Today, the GAA has over 2,200 clubs in all thirty-two counties of Ireland and has close to 500,000 members worldwide. It is part of the Irish consciousness and plays an influential role in Irish society that extends far beyond the basic aim of promoting the playing of Gaelic games.

    #GAA, #History, #Ireland

    Source Newspaper: www.irishnewsarchive.com - Irish Examiner, 3 November 1884
    Photo By Unknown - NUI Galway Digital Collections, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69710947

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