Fact of the week

  • Fatal Attack on Feakle


    Constable William Stanley was shot dead and Sergeant Doherty was severely wounded during an attack on Feakle barracks in county Clare.

    Commencing at 11.30am, this was attack was different from most in that it was carried out in daylight. A ‘fierce’ exchange of rifle fire was exchanged between the IRA and the police. In the aftermath, a large force of military, with armoured cars, left Ennis for Feakle but there was no trace of the IRA raiding party. In the aftermath of the attack the people of Feakle and the surrounding area braced themselves for a reprisal from the military. On the same day Schull police barracks was captured but the IRA there ordered Sergeant Largan to swear that thee would be no reprisals or they would take him hostage. It was reported that they then took the police to a nearby hotel and ordered the owner to give them accommodation for the night and to treat them well.


    Source: Irish Independent 1905-current, 08.10.1920, page 5


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  • The Influenza Flue - Plague 1892

    Influenza Flue 1892 Russian Flue Influenza Flue 1892 Russian Flue

    The Plague of 1889 -

    View this excellent production by Bailey & Blake . The video provides background on the global impact of the Influenza epidemic 1889. The so-called Russian flue claimed the lives of 15,000 Irish people and over a period of 3 years killed 110,000 in the United Kingdom. By 1894 it was estimated to have killed over 1 million people Worldwide.

    The past events in history seem so relevant today when scientists during the pandemic of 1889 suggest isolation as key to survival.

    The Bailey & Blake production used many sources to create this video including the Irish Newspaper Archive resource.

  • Civilian Targets - September 1920


    As already highlighted in this month’s posts civilians became a target as the War of Independence dragged on.

    In September a man named Patrick Gill was murdered by the military as he walked along a public road near Drumsna, county Leitrim. Accompanied by his sister and woman named Netley, Gill was bayonetted after he had fallen to the ground. A coroners jury subsequently found that Gill had been murdered without provocation. Three days later another Leitrim man, James Connolly, aged seventy, was murdered at Kinlough when police came to search his home. Looking for his son, the military shot Connolly who being deaf failed to hear the call to put up his hands. In county Galway two men, John Mulvoy and James Quirke, were murdered in a similar manner. Acting in reprisal for murder of Constable Krumm, the military rounded on Mulvoy and Quirke. The latter in particular received a painful death. Taken to Galway docks, Quirke was tied to a lamppost and shot nine times in the stomach. He did not die instantly but was left to die in agony. On the same night attmepts were made to murder John Broderick and Joseph Cummins. As Broderick’s house was set on fire he escaped and although fired at on several occasion he was unwounded. Cummins feigned death after receiving one bullet and so was left by the military who decided not to fire anymore shots.


    Source: The Irish Bulletin 1918-1921, Saturday, September 18, 1920, page 12

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  • Political Turmoil - September 1920


    In the midst of the political turmoil and ongoing war being fought in every town and village in the country, the cause of labour continued to dominate Ireland in September 1920 as people looked for both security in their employment but also better wages.

    The radical newspaper, The Watchword of Labour, continued to be at the forefront of publicizing union activity across the country. In Dublin, in September 1920, those employed in Tea & Wine sought protection and help, as did those employed in the various picture houses (cinemas) across the capital. Others who were asked to improve the condition of workers include the auctioneers, James Adam & Son, while ‘Ireland’s National Newspaper’, the Freeman’s Journal was criticized for no considering the rights of its office cleaners. In the provinces there were a variety of disputes but in Clonmel, county Tipperary workers on the Perry estate were granted a 40s rate and time and a half for work on a Sunday. In Killala, county Mayo the ITGWU organizer named Reilly succeeded in better wages for town workers, while a similar requirement was argued for in Dungarvan, county Waterford. In other areas such as Limerick and Tralee it was the bacon factory workers who were mustering for support in their claims. However, in some areas unions were not as affective and The Watchword was not afraid to give them a ‘gee up’ or call out that their actions had been ineffective.



    Source: The Watchword of Labour 1919-1920, Saturday, September 25, 1920, page 7


  • James Connolly Labour College - September 1920


    One hundred years ago this month the ITGWU and other unions publicised the fact that their numbers were swelling and across nearly every sector of Irish industry they could claim members.


    In fact, reports from September 1920 suggested that the their membership was well in excess of 100,000 people. Newspapers such as The Watchword of Labour (available through the Irish Newspaper Archive) reveal this growing interest in the cause of labour right across the country. In September 1920 the newspaper advertised the ‘James Connolly Labour College’ which was located at 42 North Great George’s Street, Dublin. For the winter session the college was offering five lectures on ‘Tools and the man’ and eight lectures on ‘The World and its Wealth’. The lectures were to be delivered by M.M. McDonnell and RJP Morishead. In addition to these lectures in Dublin, classes were also held in Bray and Dun Laoghaire. Offering classes on the history of Irish industry, attendees would also receive tuition in public speaking. Ahead of their times and similar to what is happening today during the Covid19 Pandemic, the college were also offering classes by long distance, or correspondence. Offering three courses by distance, the idea was certainly to provide the platform for people to take on the cause of labour in their areas, an again part of the emphasis was on learning the ‘art of public speaking’. Priced at two shillings six pence per lesson, readers were encouraged to seize the opportunity.


    Source: The Watchword of Labour 1919-1920, Saturday, September 25, 1920, page 6


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  • Tubbercury Church Burnt - September 1920



    There were a number of outrages perpetrated against civilians during the month of September 1920. In county Sligo, an attempt was made to burn the protestant church in Tubbercurry.


    The Volunteers subsequently arrested three men who pleaded guilty of the attack and who were forced to pay fines of £5 and £1 each. The money was handed to the rector of the church. In the same month, an attempt was made to burn the home of a family named Murray who lived near Clones, county Monaghan. Frank Murray and his two daughters were in residence at the time, when one of the girls was awoken by the smell of smoke. Reacting to this type of violence and in particular that which was inflicted upon Catholics in Belfast, the Protestant people of Dundalk, county Louth led by Rev Canon Hamilton and others denounced the Ulster outrages and called for people to remain calm. Appealing to protestants to abstain from any acts which would further the violence in Ireland, the group believed that they could help in promoting better feeling between all parties. Speaking to the meeting, Arthur Coulter, a solicitor believed that it was possible for Catholics and Protestants to live side by side ‘as men’ and not as ‘beasts’. His sentiments were widely applauded as the group urged people in Belfast and Lisburn in particular to take heed of their advice.



    Source: The Liberator (Tralee) 1914-1939, 28.09.1920, page 1; See also Freemans Journal 1763-1924, 01.09.1920, page 3

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  • Sack of Trim - September 1920


    In the popular memory of the War of independence in county Meath there were few events which caused such outrage as an event towards the end of September 1920 which became known as ‘The Sack of Trim’.

    The Evening Echo newspaper described the carnage which the military inflicted on the town. Following an attack on Head Constable White who was badly wounded, military lorries entered Trim on Sunday afternoon. Some shots were fired a men as they played hurling and two were wounded. Local priests intervened and sought the officers in charge. When the military were assured that all the inhabitants of the town would be indoors by 8pm the military withdrew. Then at 3am more than 200 soldiers returned, many it was stated were ‘imported’ to cause damage. The mineral water factory of the chairman of Trim Urban Council was broken into and the military shouted for the ‘Sinn Fein’ chairman. They then set fire to the building and a drapery shop where goods valued at £8,000 were damaged. They then set a public house on fire, which belonged to the mother of a member of the urban council. The town hall was also set on fire, and destroyed, which also contained the town records. In total sixteen houses were burned. After two hours the raiders left and threatened to return the following evening. As the Echo correspondent wrote in the hours that followed the War of Independence had visited Trim and it had received its ‘baptism of blood and fire’.


    Source: Evening Echo 1896-current, 28.09.1920, page 2



  • Cameron Highlanders Reprisals - August 1920


    On the night of 27-28 August 1920 the military, acting in reprisal for the murder of Constable Hall (the driver) killed during an ambush at Castlemartyr, county Cork in which several members of the Cameron Highlanders were injured, sacked the town of Cobh smashing the windows in more than 100 shops and houses.


    Soldiers of the Cameron Highlanders, numbering 25 to 30 men, broke out of the barracks and proceeded with rifles to wreck the town. Some private houses were also attacked and many shops were looted. An ex-soldier, named Walker who was called upon to halt by the Camerons was shot and killed during the rampage. A native of Liverpool, Walker had served in the South African War and the Great War. A detachment of Royal Marines who were sent to prevent further damage to the town. On the following morning, some members of the Highlanders patrolled the town but further damage was reported. A jewellery shop and other premises were looted by soldiers the following morning before the Marines once again took control of the town. The damage inflicted was estimated to have been several thousand pounds as the people of Cobh barricaded themselves in fear of further reprisals.


    Source: Irish Independent, August 30, 1920, page 5


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  • Saint Ultan Aeridheacht - August 1920


    One of the features of the Irish War of Independence was the ability of local communities to continue the movement to promote Irish games, language and customs despite the constant harassment from the military, which the organisers and attendees of these events faced.


    While the GAA was prominent at promoting these events, in many areas the Gaelic League were drivers. Hosting concerts, or ‘Aeridheacht’ (an open air gathering), the league promoted the Irish language, music and customs. These occasions were also used to promote business and people who supported the ‘Irish-Ireland’ movement, including for example those who sold only Irish produce. In August 1920 an Aeridheacht on a big scale was held at Ardbraccan, county Meath which coincided with the celebration of St Ultan. Starting with the recitation of the rosary in Irish, the occasion revived the old custom of venerating this saint locally. It was followed by procession of bands from Navan to the towns show grounds where the crowds were entertained by football matches (including the then famous O’Tooles Club of Dublin); Gerald Crofts and Andrew Dunne prominent ‘Irish Ireland artistes’, and a ceilidh in the evening. Special trains were laid on for the occasion which attracted a large contingent who travelled from Dublin.


    Source: Old Ireland, 28 August 1920, page 465.


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  • The Weekly Summary - 1920


    The publication of the newspapers, The Weekly Summary, in August 1920 was an attempt by the British government and the Dublin Castle officials to take control of the propaganda war which was then perhaps the most influential part of the war of independence.


    The IRA and Sinn Fein had shown that they could deftly report on any outrage, arrest or injustice to the benefit of their ideals and with this in mind Dublin Castle struck back. The Summary included details of what was happening from a British perspective, including describing the hunger striker, Michael Conlon who was arrested for the attack on Ahern RIC Barrack and his refusal to take food. The newspaper coldly claimed that he could ‘commit suicide’ if he did not. Moreover, the newspaper describe the Sinn Fein movement as ‘enemies of humanity’ owing to the attacks on Irish coastguard stations which they claimed was having a detrimental effect on shipping and had the potential to claims innocent lives as lighthouses were put out of action. The newspaper also included fascinating detail of the war including the fact that following a raid on Harcourt Street railway station in Dublin, aeroplanes were used in the pursuit of the raiders.


    Source: The Weekly Summary 1920-1921, 13.08.1920, page 1


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