On this day

  • IRA Storm Ward’s Hibernian Hotel Killing Sergeant George Neazor - 10.03.201920

    IRA stormed Wards Hibernian Hotel in the town and shot Sergeant George Neazor Neazer

    IRA Shot & Kill Sergeant George Neazor IN Rathkeale - 10.March.1920

    March was a month of terror in Ireland. It was a month when the IRA began to target the police, military and others in broad daylight as the frequency of barrack attacks gave way to ambush and assassination. It was also a month when the military began to strike back, while Dublin Castle upped the ante against Sinn Fein and their supporters. What else happened in Ireland in March 1920?

    If attacks on the police and military up until this point in the War of Independence took on a proscribed format, after an incident in Rathkeale, County Limerick on 10 March everything changed. On that evening a small unit of the local IRA stormed Ward’s Hibernian Hotel in the town and shot Sergeant George Neazor (Neazer) dead and injured his colleague, Constable Doyle. During the day, which was fair day in the town, Neazor and Doyle, who were in plainclothes, had accompanied a land steward, Michael O’Brien, from County Kerry to buy cattle for a farm which was boycotted.

    Having observed the two RIC men throughout the day, the IRA led by Sean Finn waited patiently until they could strike. Just after 9 o'clock the IRA entered the hotel and were shown to the room where Neazor and Doyle were dining. Sensing what was happening when the doors burst open Neazor fired his revolver but was fatally wounded; Doyle receiving wounds in the hip and wrist. Neazor was moved to a private house but was dead before medical assistance could be provided. Once more, the attack was widely condemned both in the locality and across the country. By the end of the month Neazor, who interestingly had been a witness in the trial of Sir Roger Casement, would be just one of many who had been killed as the war intensified.

    Download Source:   Freemans Journal 1763-1924, Friday, March 12, 1920 Freemans jounral 12 March 1920 George Neazor shot dead by ira

  • Constable Thomas Ryan killed by IRA Bomb RIC Barracks Hugginstown - 08.March.1920

    Constable Thomas Ryan killed by IRA Bomb hugginstown Kilkenny 08March 1920

    RIC Barracks Hugginstown Kilkenny Attacked by IRA, Constable Thomas Ryan killed.

    On 8 March 1920 the peaceful village of Hugginstown in County Kilkenny was shook when the IRA mounted a daring attack on the RIC barracks. One of the police in the barracks on that occasion, Constable Thomas Ryan was fatally wounded during the night. Although IRA attacks on the police barracks were by March 1920 commonplace, it appears that this attack took them by surprise. The police were startled at 11.30pm by the noise of gunfire and bombs thrown at the building. Constable Ryan rushed downstairs shouting at his colleagues ‘come on boys, we're under attack’. Constables Tighe and Conroy fired from the day room while Ryan raced upstairs with a box of bombs. The IRA then spotting Ryan in the upstairs room managed to throw a bomb of their own into the room. A few moments later the police heard Ryan moaning and crying stating that he was dying. Coming downstairs he was bleeding profusely and his arm had been completely shattered by the blast. His last words to his comrades were: ‘I am done. They got me through the window’.

    The IRA had, it seems, taken out the best trained of the police officers present. Ryan had undergone special training in throwing bombs and had received a certificate for such. After an intense period of firing the IRA retreated. When the police searched the area outside the barracks they found fifty to 100 bombs some of which had exploded and some were unexploded. They also found four bottles of petrol outside which were presumably brought to set fire to the building. The following day Ryan’s remains were brought for burial to Ballybricken, County Waterford. On the same day the authorities ordered that Hugginstown barracks was to be closed.

     The Irish Bulletin (1918-1921), Friday, March 12, 1920 reported that on the 10th  March 1920 police and army raided nearly 200 houses in the town of Hugginstown, County Kilkenny:

    Irish war bulletin 12 March 1920 raids

    Download Source: Irish Examiner, 11 March 1920, page 5 & The Irish Bulletin 12.March.1920

    Irish war bulletin 12 March 1920                                                       Cork Examiner 11 March 1920 Hugginstown RIC barracks attacked

  • Dublin Castle Raids Sinn Fein Banks - 08.March.1920

    Sinn Fein Banks Raided 08 March 1920

    Sinn Fein Banks Raided and Barricaded March 1920

    By March 1920 Dublin Castle, under pressure to control the growing support of Sinn Fein and prevent further outrages from occurring all across the country, set their sights on how the organisation was financed. Over the course of eleven days in early March that investigation became apparent and there were two raids on the Sinn Fein bank on Harcourt Street. There were also raids on other banking firms in an attempt to establish any connections to the Sinn Fein movement. In the second raid on the Sinn Fein bank, which had been established in 1908 by Arthur Griffith and others, the military and police proceeded to board up the windows and doors of the building with wooden planks. Money and documents were also seized during the raid. It has been estimated that perhaps as much as £20,000 was seized during the month of March, a huge blow to the republican movement. At the instruction of the Attorney-General, an inquiry was established, and all of the banking sector were forced to comply. The move came as a surprise to those employed in banking in Dublin. Significantly, the order which formalised the inquiry was signed by a man named Alan Bell, Resident Magistrate in Dublin. In doing so, Bell would not have to wait long for retribution from the IRA as will be discussed in a post later this month. This intense scrutiny on Sinn Fein's finances was a major setback to the movement and one which they struggled to overcome.


    Download Source: Irish Examiner, 8 March 1920, page 5. See also Irish Examiner, 10 March 1920, page 5.

    Cork Examiner 08 maRCH 1920 SINN FEIN BANKS RAIDED                                          Cork Examiner 10 MARCH 1920 SINN FEIN BANKS BARRICADED AND RAIDED

    Irish Examiner 1841-current, Wednesday, March 10, 1920 page 5

    Irish Examiner 1841-current, Monday, March 08, 1920 page 5

  • Sinn Fein Raid Mail Van - Blow for Dublin Castle 06.March.1920

    Sligo Champion Sinn Fein Raid Mail Van 06 March 1920

    As the War of Independence intensified intelligence gathering became an important feature of the conflict and gave volunteers experience on active service. One of the many areas of intelligence gathering was the targeting of post as it was being delivered throughout the country. Quite often, this included post which was directed towards local magistrates and justices of the peace, local landowners and others who were deemed to be sympathetic or collaborating with the British authorities. One such daring raid on the delivery of post, and a major setback to Dublin castle, was the raid on the mail van, which occurred on 6 March 1920 at Frederick Lane, Dominick Street at 8.30am in the morning. In a well-prepared attack, armed and masked men stopped the mail van emptying the car of its entire contents. Described as acting with ‘complete coolness’ and displaying in-depth knowledge of the layout and arrangements for carrying the mail to and from Dublin Castle, this was a massive blow to the authorities. Neither Dublin Castle nor the police would offer any comment on the content of the post, which had been stolen, but it likely contained sensitive information about the IRA and its movements. The delivery of post would soon become a dangerous occupation throughout Ireland as the IRA continued to target trains and post offices in an attempt to intercept classified information.

     Download Source: Sligo Champion, 6 March 1920, page 8

    Sligo Champion 1879-current Saturday March 06 1920 page 1

    Sligo Champion 1879-current, Saturday, March 06, 1920 PAGE 80

  • RIC Constable John Martin Heaney (aged 24) Shot- 04.March.1920

    RIC Constable John Martin Heaney aged 24 shot dead

    March was a month of terror in Ireland. It was a month when the IRA began to target the police, military and others in broad daylight as the frequency of barrack attacks gave way to ambush and assassination. It was also a month when the military began to strike back, while Dublin Castle upped the ante against Sinn Fein and their supporters. What else happened in Ireland in March 1920?

    RIC Constable John Martin Heaney (aged 24) Shot- 04.March.1920


    The month of March 1920 would highlight the tit-for-tat nature of attacks and the fact that the IRA was willing to carry out attacks even where the civilian population was present. The murder of RIC Constable John Martin Heaney (aged 24) at the Ragg, county Tipperary on 4 March illustrated that.  Heaney was accompanied on patrol by Constable Flaherty and as they made their way home the two policemen decided to stop at Fannings Public House, which also functioned as a grocery, to buy eggs. They had obviously been tracked as they made their way across the country on patrol and the IRA lay in wait. Just as the men were about the pay for the goods ‘a loud yell burst forth’, a duel ensued and gunfire lit up the public house. The police were unaware and so were defenseless in the situation. The bullet holes in the woodwork and doors in the aftermath of the attack suggested that several shots had been fired by both parties. Heaney jumped over the counter and returned fire but was shot almost instantly. The incident was over in a matter of seconds and the IRA retreated. Flaherty followed them outside and fired a number of shots but to no avail. It was later claimed that the behavior of soldiers in Thurles had been the root cause of the attack. Later that month, the murder of Thomas Dwyer in the Ragg was believed to have been in retaliation for the shooting of Heaney.

    Download Source Irish Independent 06.MARCH.1920

    Irish War of independence Irish Independent Saturday March 06 1920 PG 1

  • Awful Murder of Frank Shawe-Taylor - 03.March.1920

    Frank Shawe-Taylor Murdered 03 March 1920

    Frank Shawe-Taylor Murdered 03.March.1920

    3 March

    March was a month of terror in Ireland. It was a month when the IRA began to target the police, military and others in broad daylight as the frequency of barrack attacks gave way to ambush and assassination. It was also a month when the military began to strike back, while Dublin Castle upped the ante against Sinn Fein and their supporters. What else happened in Ireland in March 1920?

    drive do death heading

    The murder of Frank Shawe-Taylor in county Galway shook landed society in Ireland, a class who had already experienced months of raids and intimidation. A prominent land agent and landowner in Galway, Shaw Taylor was ambushed close to his home, Moorpark near Athenry. Just after 6am as Shawe-Taylor and his chauffeur, a man named Barrett, made their way to the fair in Galway they were ambushed. Halted by a donkey and cart overturned on the road, Barrett stopped the car to try and clear the obstruction. As he did, a hail of gunfire riddled the car killing Shawe-Taylor outright with Barrett receiving only minor injuries. A land dispute was said to be the motive for the killing, with agitation on the estate dating back to as early as 1913. Although he had initially agreed to divide almost 250 acres of his farm, this was rejected by those carrying out the agitation. In 1914 Shawe-Taylor was targeted when farm outbuildings were set on fire and the following year his herd was severely beaten. His house and farm were under police protection for several years. In the weeks leading up to the murder in 1920 there was once more agitation for the breakup of land in the area and Shawe-Taylor had refused requests to do so including a deputation from the local IRA. Although no person was ever tried for the murder of Shawe-Taylor, the killing would lead to reciprocal murders taking place in Galway throughout 1920.

     Download Source: Tuam Herald, 6 March 1920, page 2.Tuam Herald 06 March 1920 Frank Shawe-Taylor  Murder

     Download Source: Belfast Newsletter, 4 March 1920, page 4.


    Belfast Newsletter March 04 1920 Frank Shawe-Taylor


     Download Source: Connacht Tribune, 4 March 1920, page 5.


      Connacht Tribune 06 March 1920 Drive to death

  • Queensfort House Eight Shots Fired - 26.February.1920

    Queensfort House Eight Shots Fired

    Land agitation in county Galway culminated in shots being fired at the home of Francis McCormack at Queensfort, between Dunmore and Tuam in February 1920.

    McCormick and sister were the only occupants of the house when the incident occurred and were unscathed, but one of the staff, Miss Kelly, a cook, was said to have had a lucky escape during the firing. More than eight shots were fired at the house and many of the windows of the bedrooms were shattered. Land in Hollymount, county Mayo was said to have been the cause of the outrage. Motor cars used in the attack, which suggested that the people involved had travelled a distance. Speaking after the incident the Rev Dr Gillmartin described it as an ‘abominable outrage’. The agitation continued and this part of Galway would see a number of ‘extensive cattle drives’ during the early months of 1920. The attack at Queensfort came in the same month as the murder of a herdsman at a county Galway estate as agitation for the breakup of landed estates intensified. In March 1920 the murder of Frank Shawe Taylor,  a land agent and described as being one of the best known people in the west of Ireland highlighted the extent to which people were willing to go in order to secure land. There was widespread agitation at estates that were under his care.


    Download Source: Connacht Tribune, 28 Feb 1920, page 5


    Connacht Tribune 1909-current Saturday February 28 1920 PAGE 1

  • RIC Ballytrain Barracks Fierce Fighting - 14.February.1920


    RIC Ballytrain Barracks Fierce Fighting - 14.February.1920

    After a month of intense IRA activity across the country, the War of Independence continued unabated in February 1920. Becoming more daring in the process, the IRA continued to target the RIC and their barracks. Elsewhere, local issues and tensions would also surface, and in some cases, they become embroiled in the struggle for Independence. February 1920 would be a month of chaos across the country

    Described by the newspapers of the day as a ‘fierce affray’ the three-hour assault on the RIC barracks at Ballytrain, county Monaghan was a significant engagement for the Monaghan IRA during the War of Independence. Launched at 2 am on a Sunday morning and led by Eoin O’Duffy, later a Commissioner of An Garda Siochana, the attack had been carefully planned.

    Located eight miles from Castleblayney, the RIC barracks in Ballytrain was manned by two sergeants and four constables all of whom it was said fought against the odds for over three hours. When at 5am ‘the leader’ of the IRA party demanded the officers surrender it was met by continued firing from the police. O’Duffy then gave the order to plant explosives at the gable wall, which instantly collapsed. Four RIC officers were buried in the rubble of the building and were later transferred to Carrickmacross hospital for treatment. About fifty men then rushed the building carrying off a quantity of weapons A house belonging to a man named Mitchell was raided before the attack, where four members of the family were held hostage throughout the night. The IRA smashed all of the windows in the house allowing them to fire on the barracks. As many as 150 men took part in the raid, which also saw some men taking up position in cattle byres, which had been cleaned out in order to give protection. It was later alleged that O’Duffy had told the RIC men that he was glad no one had been killed in the exchange- ‘We did not come here to do injury, but only for arms’. It was hardly the welcome Sergeant Graham had expected having only arrived in the barracks three days before.

    Download Source:  Ulster Herald, 21 February 1920, page 2. + Sligo Champion 21.February.1920

    Ulster Herald 1901-current Saturday February 21 1920                                                 Sligo Champion 1879-current Saturday February 21 1920 Page 6                                               Ulster Herald 1901-current, Saturday, February 21, 1920 pg 2

    Sligo Champion 1879-current, Saturday, February 21, 1920

  • The disgraceful nature of terrorism - Belfast Newsletter 12.February.1920

    Belfast Newsletter

     ‘the disgraceful nature of terrorism’

    The Belfast Newsletter reported in February 1920 that lawlessness in the south of Ireland was getting out of hand and that everyday life in many counties was disturbed. The Kerry Milk case in that month reflected such sentiments or as the newspaper claimed, ‘the disgraceful nature of terrorism’. The issue was linked to the two attempts which were made on the life of Sergeant AM Sullivan in Kerry in January 1920. Sullivan, it appears, was the legal representative of Messrs Slattery and thus the business was targeted.

    In the early morning, as the Ballmacelligot creamery opened for business, armed and disguised men lined up on the road opposite the creamery. Remarkably, the local RIC ‘hut’ at Gortalea was less than a quarter of a mile away but the men were not prohibited in any way. The armed men then proceeded to block all of the carts which were bringing milk to the creamery and ordered that they desist from doing so or in having any dealings with Slatterys. Entering the building the men forced workers to extinguish fires as a result of the incident a number of Farmers Vigilance Committees were formed in the North Kerry area. The boycott on Slattery’s presented a considerable strain on the local economy. A thriving business on which many local farmers depended; the incident may also have been part of a long-standing feud amongst a number of creameries in the locality.  Indeed, in 1919 trouble at the Ballymacelligot creameries was debated in the House of Commons.


    Source Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, Thursday, February 12, 1920

    Belfast Newsletter Thursday February 12 1920

  • Allihies Barracks Raid - Constable Neenan Shot - 12.February.1920

    Aillihies Barracks Raid Michael Neenan Shot

    Allihies Barracks Raid - Constable Neenan Shot 12.February.1920

    County Cork was the scene of another attack on an RIC barracks at the village of Allihies, which led to the death of Constable Michael Neenan. Located twelve miles from Castletownbere, the people of Allihies were taken by surprise when the IRA attacked the barrack on 12 February.

    Once again, every preparation was made to deny any chance of reinforcements arriving to help the stricken policemen. Between 3-4am the IRA began to drill into the gable wall of the barracks which was then blown up. Realising what was happening the RIC immediately defended their position and both parties then exchanged several rounds of fire. During the ‘fusilade’ Constable Neenan volunteered to go to the ammunition store for rifles but was shot in the abdomen and despite the best effort of surgeons who motored from Cork to try and save him, he succumbed to his injuries. Another RIC Constable, named O’Driscoll was shot in the foot during the affray, but his injuries were said to have been non-life threatening. Led by Sean Hales, the IRA battalion was said to have consisted of about twenty volunteers and maintained their position until shortly after 5am before retreating. The RIC refused to surrender but, after this attack, they destroyed the building and withdrew from village. A number of out outlying posts would also do the same in the coming weeks.

    Download Source: Irish Independent 1905-current, Friday, February 13, 1920

    Irish Independent Friday February 13 1920

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