On this day

  • Irish War of Independence - Day of Anarchy - 16.May.1920

    Irish War of Independence

     

    In what the Belfast Newsletter referred to as the ‘half century’ there were over fifty outrages reported by Dublin Castle on a single day in mid-May.

     

    The disused military barracks in Mitchelstown, county Cork was destroyed by a group of twenty men. In counties Cork, Sligo, Kerry, Kilkenny, Limerick, Mayo, Meath, Cavan and Down – eleven in total. In county Down the burning of the RIC barracks at Laurencetown, near Banbridge highlighted the ingenuity of the raiding party who proceeded to raid three adjoining yards of petrol, paraffin oil and a large quantity of hay which they carried to the barrack to use in igniting the building. Such was the ferocity of the fire that a number of adjoining buildings were also damaged. At Bruff in county Limerick threatening notices were posting warning anyone from making compensation claims on the barracks which had been burned noting that they would be ‘marked men’ and would pay an ‘extreme penalty’. Likewise, anyone who dared to carry out repairs on the barracks would meet the same fate. Several cattle drives were reported and in county Tipperary W.R. Hickey of Galtee Castle was threatened that if he did not take his sheep off the Galtee Mountain he would be killed, informing him that British law no longer existed in Ireland. In county Cork a former soldier and then postman was threatneed with death if he did no give up his job as ‘ex-soldier’ were not welcome.

     

    Download Source: Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, 18.05.1920, page 5

     

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  • Irish War of Independence - Screams in Downpatrick - 14.May.1920

     Irish War of Independence Down Patrick

    During the morning of 13 May 1920 an incident in Downpatrick, county Down created a sensation across Ireland following the raid on an excise office in the town.

     

    Aroused by the screams of the caretaker, Mrs McBride, the nearby Revd T.G. Wilkinson, Minor Canon of Down Cathedral was shot by armed raiders as he went to try and follow the raiders. Armed with revolvers and disguised, about ten men described by many newspapers simply as ‘Sinn Feiners’ were there to take revenue papers and other documents. Commencing just after three o’clock in the morning, the raiders were disturbed by the screams of McBride who was in the building with her five young children. Wilkinson, the son of the pro-chancellor of the Queen’s University, Belfast was wounded by a gunshot to the leg as he pursued the raiders from the building. The attack was widely condemned in county Down and throughout the north of the country. Praised for his bravery in pursuing the raiders, Wilkinson was lucky to survive having lost a large amount of blood. There was little trace of the raiders who had effectively cut all the communication lines in Downpatrick prior to the raid on the excise office. On the same night two RIC barracks in the county were destroyed- at Strangford and at Clough, where a previous attempt at Easter had partially damaged the building.

     

    Download Source: Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, 14.05.1920, page 7

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    BELFAST Newslaetter_14_may_1920

     

  • Irish War of Independence - Series of IRA Raids - 13.May.1920

    Irish War of Independence

     

    The night of 12/13 May 1920 was one of sensation across the country as the IRA carried out over 100 hundred attacks, mirroring what had been done on the previous Easter Sunday.

     

    Among the reported attacks included 61 on barracks, 30 attack on tax offices with papers and books burned, mail cars held up in several counties and individual assaults. The series of raids on income tax offices, which numbered in total on thirty offices located in seventeen counties was a coordinated effort to deny another aspect of British rule in Ireland and make the country the ungovernable. Carried out between 10.30pm and 1am, in most cases the documents were piled into sacks and carried off. It was also a very active night for the various IRA units in county Dublin. RIC barracks at Ballybrack, Kill-o-the Grange, Blanchardstown, Bessborough and Crumlin. These attacks were well planned, described as ‘swift operations’. At Ballybrack the IRA informed Mrs Hurst, the wife of the sergeant who was absent from home, that she could have ten minutes to take whatever she wanted from the house and barracks and then it would be burned. On the same evening, and perhaps as a result of the various roadblocks which were set up to prevent the military intervening, in Killiney, William J. McCabe, head gardener for the Rt Hon. L Waldon MP for Dublin was shot dead as he left the gate lodge of Strathmore House. The incident was described as a tragic case.

     

    Download Source: Irish Independent, 14 May 1920, page 5

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    Irish Independent_14_May_1920

     

  • Irish War of Independence - Savage Attack - 13.May.1920

    Irish War of Independence

     

    In an effort to control the narrative of the war and to snuff out all opposition to the republican movement, on 13 May 1920 an attack was made on the home of Mr Sheehy, a solicitor and editor of the County Eagle newspaper in Skibbereen, county Cork.

     

    Answering a knock to the door shortly before midnight a number of armed and masked men rushed into the hall. Knocking him down, he was bound in ropes and his body, head and face were smeared with tar. No one witnessed the attack on the quiet Market Street in the town. Ms Sheehy, his sister who was out visiting, made the horrific discovery when she returned and quickly raised the alarm. Attended to by Dr O’Meara, it was said that Sheehy was severely traumatised by the incident. The cause of the outrage was presumed to be the fact that the Eagle newspaper was strongly anti-Sinn Fein in its stance. Within days Sheehy had lodged a claim for compensation for £1,000. Hitting back at the attack on Sheehy, the Eagle responded in its next issue condemning the assault. In addition, it vowed to continue to practice the principles of free speech claiming it would not be intimidated by the Sinn Fein movement. The editorial finished by stating that: ‘So the editor of the Eagle will continue, as ever, to challenge and combat this monstrous many headed enemy of individual freedom’.

     

    Download Source: Irish Examiner 1841-current, 14.05.1920, page 5; see also Irish Examiner 1841-current, Monday, May 17, 1920; Page: 5; See also Skibbereen Eagle 1882-1922, Saturday, May 22, 1920; Page: 4

     

    Irish examiner 14 May 1920irish exam 14_05_1920

    Irish Examiner 17 May 1920irish exam 17_05_1920

    skiberean-eagl-_-front-page-skibberean eagle_1920

  • War of Independence - Miltown Malbay Tragedy - 18.April.1920

    Miltownmalbay Tragedy 18.April.1920

    Aril 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 a 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.

    War of Independence - Miltown Malbay Tragedy - 18.April.1920

    One of the most daring attacks of the entire War of Independence period was carried out on the morning of 18 April in the quiet West Clare village of Kilmihil. On that Sunday morning as Sergeant Carroll, along with Constables Collins and Martyn made their way from having attended 10 o’clock mass they were ambushed by a large party of the IRA. Carried out in daylight and with a large civilian population present as they also congregated outside the church, the attack was all the more daring considering that the ambush occurred in the proximity of the Police Barracks and only a few hundred yards from the Military Depot. In the exchange of fire which took place, as men, women, and children fled in all directions Sergeant Carroll was killed and Constable Collins was severely wounded. Several civilians were also injured in the affray. Left behind to defend the situation John Breen was said to have fought valiantly to allow his comrades to retreat. He was eventually shot and died from his wounds. A large memorial now stands in Kilmihil commemorating Breen and the ambush in April 1920, while a smaller stone marker records the place where he fell. The inscription on the memorial records the following lines:

                ‘He died for the olden cause, the cause that shall not fail, while the stars above look down on one unconquered Gael’.

     

    Download Source: see Cork Examiner, 23 April 1920, page 3. ****PHOTO of the Village and those killed****

    Irish Examiner 1841-current, Friday, April 23, 1920

    #Irish Examiner April 23, 1920

  • Rioting in Derry worst in half a century -17.April.1920

    Riots Derry City Belfast Newsletter 19.April.1920

    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.

    Rioting in Derry worst in half a century -17.April.1920

    Simmering tensions throughout the month of April 1920 in Derry city boiled over on the night of the 17-18th and resulted in a night of riot in the city. Several events conspired to precipitate rioting on the weekend of 17-18 April. There was widespread anger when it was learned that a Derry man lay dangerously ill in Mountjoy jail as part of the hunger strike. Then on 14 April skirmishes between nationalists and unionists broke out in the city when Republican prisoners were arriving back in the city and an attempt was made by the military to disperse the gathering. What followed was reported as some of the worst rioting for more than half a century. Then on Saturday evening, the 17th, fierce rioting erupted in Derry after soldiers were attacked in various parts of the city. In retaliation, unionists and soldiers of the Dorset regiment engaged crowds of nationalists. Armed with iron bars and stones the rioters attacked soldiers as they left the Soldiers Club and who had come to help their besieged colleagues. They then retreated to the Soldiers Club which came under attack. All throughout the city, the rioting continued. When 200 soldiers of the Dorset Regiment arrived to put down the riot, the attention soon shifted to other areas including a RIC barrack which was located in a predominantly Catholic part of the city. In the end, thousands of pounds worth of damage was done to property, ten civilians were hospitalised and several of the military were also injured.

    Download Source: Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, 19.04.1920, page 5

    Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, Monday, April 19, 1920

    Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, Monday, April 19, 1920

  • Farmer Brutally Assaulted - April 1920

    11 April 1920 Irish War oF Independence Farmer assaulted

    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 a 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.

    Irish War of Independence - Farmers Assaulted -

    Described as a ‘savage’ attack in which the farmer was ‘waylaid’ by a number of men, the beating received by James Flanagan, an aged farmer of Fahereen Grange, near Athlone, County Westmeath revealed much about the local dimension of the Irish War of Independence.  Harking back to the Famine, and the eviction of tenants, the attack near Moate suggested that old scores were being settled as agitation for land commenced. Flanagan described as the holder of 120 acres of land, ‘comfortable’ and an inoffensive man, was attacked and dangerously beaten as he made his way home from Moate fair. Some days prior to the attack he had told friends that he had received threatening letters indicating that he would be shot. Bitter memories of nineteenth-century evictions were expressed in the threatening letters. Presenting a ‘revolting spectacle’, Flanagan’s nose being completely shattered and his forehead opened in two places. In the same month a young man named  Flynn, a farmer's son, was shot and wounded in another land dispute near the border of Westmeath and King’s County (Offaly). Armed and disguised men broke into the house and dragged the family into the yard where they shot Kieran Flynn in the arm. Before leaving, the Flynns were warned to quit the farm, money was taken from them and an attempt was made to set fire to the house.

    Source: Evening Herald, 9 April 1920, page 1; See also Freemans Journal 1763-1924, 06.04.1920, page 3

    Evening Herald  Friday, April 09, 1920

    Twitter: #Agrarian attacks in #Westmeath in disputes over #land during April 1920 #irishhistory #irishwarofindependence  @ciaranjreilly

  • Tipperary IRA Ambush Shot 2 Policemen - 09.April.1920

    IRA Kill two policemen Tipperary Ambush 09.April.1920

    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 a 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.

    The upsurge in IRA activity in early 1920 resulted in heavy losses for the police and the military but few were carried out with the ruthlessness or efficiency as the killing of two police constables in Newport, County Tipperary on 8 April. Ambushed by 20 masked men, Constables, Finn, McCarthy and Byrne were cycling on patrol from their barrack when they were fired at when they reached a place called Lackamore Wood. This isolated and  ‘bleak part of County Tipperary’ gave the IRA perfect cover to carry out their ambush. Constable Byrne, who was leading, received a number of shots in the shoulders and back and fell into a ditch. His two comrades were shot in the head and killed. Constable Byrne climbed over a ditch and fired his revolver in the direction of his assailants, who fled immediately. In his testimony to the military, Byrne recalled that he saw nearly 20 men running through the wood. Although badly injured Byrne managed cycle back to Newport Station, raising the alarm and then collapsed. It is believed that 30 shots were fired at the three men. Although the area was quickly flooded with military, no arrests. A Police District Inspector later recalled the scene of the attack:

    ‘we found the late Constable Finn lying on his back in the centre of the road quite dead    – both eyes were blown away and the lower part of his forehead- brain matter scattered on the road and a large pool of blood. About five years in advance...we found the late        Constable McCarthy in a sitting posture against the wall of the road and a bullet wound in his neck’.

    Download Source Irish Independent 10.Apri.1920

    IRA Ambush and kill 2 policement 10.April.1920 Irish Independent (1)

    Irish Independent Friday, April 09, 1920

  • IRA Roskeen Tipperary Attack 07.April.1920

    Irish Independent IRA Attack Roskeen 07.April.1920

    RIC Fend Off IRA Attack Roskeen Barracks 07.April.1920

    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.

    Not all IRA attacks on RIC barracks were successful and in many parts of the country, the police were learning from previous attacks and from communication with colleagues. At Roskeen, county Tipperary this was the case in early April 1920 when the IRA attacked this isolated barrack confident of victory. Located on a ‘lonely, open road’ seven miles from Thurles, the IRA arrived at Roskeen which numbered fourteen policemen and surrounded the building shortly after 10.30 pm on 7 April. Almost as soon as the attack commenced the RIC sent up vesey lights which could be seen for thirty miles around.  While managing to fend off the IRA attack, the RIC were confident that their message had been seen in the low lying countryside around. As with all IRA attacks of this nature telephone and telegraph wires had been cut preventing outside communication. Within a short space of time, police and military reinforcements had arrived and although firing a number of volleys at the military, the IRA attack was over and the assailants made their escape through a wooded area. The vesey light had been used by the RIC in a number of attacks but perhaps not with such effect as at Roskeen.

    Download Source: Irish Independent, 9 April 1920, page 6

    Twitter: #IRA attack on #Roskeen #RIC barrack near #Thurles #Tipperary is halted by use of ‘Vesey Lights’ & military reinforcements #Irishhistory #Irishwarofindependence

    Irish Independent Friday, April 09, 1920 Thumbnail (1)

    Irish Independent Friday, April 09, 1920

  • 100 Mountjoy Prisoners on Hunger Strike 05.April.1920

    Irish Examiner 05.April.1920 Hunger Strike 100 Mountjoy Prisoners on hunger strike 05.April.1920

    Above: Crowds outside Mountjoy Jail cheering news of the granting of political status to the 104 republican hunger-strikers within in April 1920. (New York Times) & history Ireland

    Prison Hunger Strike - Cork Examiner 05.April.1920

    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 a 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 early April 1920 IRA prisoners, some held with a charge for over six weeks, began to formulate a plan to carry out a hunger strike in Mountjoy Prison, Dublin where they demanded prisoner of war status. ‘Great excitement’ reigned in Dublin on Monday night 5 April when it was learned that the hunger strike had commenced. The previous Thursday the prisoners, all held in one wing started to destroy all the furniture and fittings in the cells, and in a number of instances, the walls of cells were broken allowing prisoners to mix together. Although handcuffed it did not deter them from wreaking havoc on the building.  In total about 100 prisoners held under the Defence of the Realm Act commenced a hunger strike, refusing food.  Crowds of sympathisers have gathered outside the prison and have started to sing songs in an effort to help the prisoners during their hunger strike The hunger strike would last for two weeks as the crowds began to mass in huge numbers outside the prison. Led by members of Cummann a Mban an estimated crowd of 20,000 people gathered. A general labour strike commenced across the country before the British government was forced to back down and released the hunger strikers.

    Download Source: Irish Examiner, 7 April 1920; Page: 5;

    April 1920 Hunger strike 100 men mountjoy Cork Examiner

    Irish Examiner 05.April.1920 Hunger Strike

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