this month in histroy

  • Guerilla Warfare Tips July 1920

    Guerilla Warfare Tips July 1920

    By July 1920 the IRA had intensified its campaign and sought new methods in engaging the military and police.


    While some had studied the practice of warfare in other countries, more practical advice was also supplied to volunteers through radical newspapers such as an t-Oglach. Military instruction was offered in the engineering notes of the newspaper on the use of paraffin oil for arson, which was deemed to be better than petrol. This would be put to great use by volunteers as they attacked country houses and finished off the remaining RIC barracks across the country. Lessons had been learned over the course of the previous year when heavily mounted attacks failed to inflict the intended damage on RIC barracks, tax offices and courts houses. Volunteers were also encouraged to study maps of their own district and see where the potential existed to use the landscape to their advantage when engaging with the military. It also published a programme for guerilla war encouraging volunteers to fight on and use all of their energy to win the fight. According to an t-Oglach the military had been driven from the countryside, but war must be pushed on with ‘determination and vigour’. Overall, the cry of the volunteer 100 years ago this month was ‘forward’.


    Source: An t-oglach, 1 July 1920, page 5


    Guerilla Warfare Tips July 1920Oglac_1_July_1920_pg4

  • National Labour Struggle - July 1920

    National Struggle

    Labour disputes all across Ireland continued in July 1920 and were championed by newspapers such as The Watchword of Labour.

    In its pages amid the ongoing War of Independence, The Watchword carried news of these ongoing labour disputes which were in many communities as the national struggle. In Killucan, county Westmeath there was an ongoing dispute over payment to farm workers from which farmers had tried to renege from the settlement reached; It was similar scenario around Aughrim, county Wicklow where farm labourers had secured an increase in wages after dispute. In Navan and Newbridge those engaged in the equine business also agreed to an increase in wages to stable workers. In Bandon, Newry and Galway road workers continued to push their case for an increase in wages. The condition of work for these men were also challenged; in county Meath it was agreed that it would be a fifty hour week with a 1pm finish on a Saturday. Where employers would not meet the demands of workers there was an inevitable result. In Lucan, county Dublin the ITGWU organised the complete stop of the woolen mills there. Yet even within these forces of labour representation there was dissent. In the village of Castlejordan on the Meath/Offaly border dispute between the ITGWU representatives and those in the farmers unions were evident. Cleverly, agricultural labourers in this border post had claimed and won the wages of their compatriots in Meath who earned two shillings more than those in Offaly.

    Source: The Watchword of Labour 1919-1920, Saturday, July 24, 1920, page 8

    National Labour Struggle WW_24Jul1920pg8

  • Wexford Murder - July 1920

    Wexford Murder

    The murder of James Dunne in Ferns, county Wexford in early July 1920 highlighted the rapacity with which the British military were prepared the engage with as the Irish War of Independence continued.

    Stopping at a public house in Ferns for a drink, two policemen asked Dunne to join them. When he refused the request, the soldiers became infuriated and began to shoot up the public house and shop. When Dunne left he was pursued by the two policemen, one of whom overtook him and fired four revolver shots into him. A native of Cortown, Dunne, it was claimed had no political associations and this his murder shocked that locality and there was considerable resentment towards the police and the military. The inquest found that Dunne had been hit by four bullets and that he had died in a few minutes. Another man, Patrick Kelly who was with Dunne in the public house ran for safety and was also fired on. It was a deliberate attack on the civilian population and occurred in the same week as the people of Cashel, Tipperary were attacked by the military as they were in the process of decorating the town. Preparing for the visit of the Bishop of San Francisco and the Bishop of Los Angeles the military tore down the decorations and forbid them to erect others.


    Source: The Irish Bulletin 1918-1921, Wednesday, July 07, 1920, page 1

    Wexford Murder Irish_Bulletin_07Jul1920

  • Military Strike Back - July 1920

    Military Strike Back

    As the IRA attempted to make the country ungovernable, in July the Military struck back with almost daily raids on houses and business premises, stopping people as they went about their daily life.

    Their idea was to make the country unliveable and to deny the IRA the use of its civilian support network, which of course was crucial to their success in the war. A series of raids were carried out in county Cork in July 1920 which both antagonised and enraged the local population. In Castletownroche, during a raid on the O’Neill home, three sons of the owner were placed against the wall and threatened that they would be shot. Raids were carried out on almost a dozen houses in the village of Killeagh in East Cork and a man named Brown arrested. When four men in the village of Grenagh, near Mallow were arrested without cause by the military one of the men was mauled by a bloodhound. In Cork City a man named Doherty was shot while standing outside a church where he was talking to a number of people. In Cork city there was widespread displeasure at the military announcement that a curfew between 10pm and 3am would come into affect within three miles of the city’s general post office.


    Source: Irish Bulletin, 17 July 1920 page 2

    Military Strike backIrishBulletin_17Jul_page2

  • An t-Oglac - 1916 Rising Mistakes

    An t-Oglac

    In the wake of the 1916 Rising Republican leaders realised that mistakes had been made in the planning and implementation of the rising.

    Indeed, it was realised that several generations of republicans had done likewise. In the intervening period IRA leaders began to study the guerilla warfare tactics of the Boer army in South Africa, while Michael Collins and others had been in communication with Boer generals. In July 1920 the republican newspaper, An t-Oglac highlighted the various lessons which were to be learned from conflicts across the world including in East Africa where attacks on the Ugandan railway ‘were instructive for Irish republicans’. The suggestion here was that the IRA would continue to force the RIC and the military to concentrate their efforts on defensive structures. Even with these success An t-Oglac warned that the IRA should continue to carry out more training of its volunteers and to keep gathering intelligence, which would be a key factor in the outcome of the war. The newspaper also appealed to battalion leaders and company captains to ensure that volunteers were ‘specialists’ owing to the varied work they carry out. Every company, An t-Oglac believed should have snipers, grenadiers, engineers and first aid men. Grading men according to their ability was an important consideration.

    Source: An t-Oglac, 1 July 1920, page 4

    An t-OglacAn t-Oglac

  • Bellowstown Raids - July 1920

    Bellowstown Raids

    Ernie O’Malley’s great account of the Irish War of Independence and the subsequent Civil War was entitled ‘Raids and Rallies’.

    In July 1920 raids of a different nature were carried out all across the country by the British military who were determined to exert their influence and to turn the tide of the war. In county Meath it seems not even a church was safe. At Bellewstown, the Catholic Church in the village was forcibly entered by the military who proceeded to search of weapons. The raid on Bellewstown was not an isolated incident and many priests who displayed republican sympathies were targeted by the military, particularly the newly arrived recruits in the summer of 1920. On the same day, a raid on the Bellewstown races in county Meath where the crowd were searched was an attempt to disrupt the social world of county Meath. Likewise, the inhabitants of the village of Rathduff, county Westmeath experienced the wrath of the military who raided more than forty houses on a single day. In Rathduff a young man named McCarthy was arrested and brought away by the military although there was no charge against him. In a clear sign that they were intent on preventing people from carrying out their daily activities the military searched all trains inbound and outbound in Mullingar, which caused difficulty for people and business in the midlands town.

    Source: Irish Bulletin, 17 July 1920, page 1.

    Bellowstown RaidsIrishBulletin July 1920

  • Irish War Of Independence-Killmallock-1920

    Irish War Of Independence-Killmallock-1920

    The wreck of the town Killmallock in county Limerick in July 1920 emphasised how violent the military response to IRA actions could be.


    During the night of the 23 July the military arrived in Killmallock, county Limerick in lorries and having alighted from them sprayed the towns houses and business premises with a volley of bullets. The attack on the village sent came as a terrifying surprise to its inhabitants. The military then began to set fire to a number of buildings, mainly business premises but in which a number of people were resident. At Lyons Hotel the military attempted to shoot two waitresses and wounded a man named Duggan during their attack. From there they went to Herlihy’s shop where they tried to shoot the owner, but he escaped. A Mr O’Rourke escaped his premises but broke his leg in the process, while a Mr O’Callaghan was violently beaten in his garden with rifle butts. The military then proceeded to burn the premises of William O’Carroll, Mr O’Keefe and John Cahill’s drapery business. The damage done to property was estimated at £6,000. On the same night the military burned the Carnegie Library in Newcastle West, a newly erected building. They also damaged the Creamery in the town and several homes belonging to prominent republicans. Organised to strike fear into the local population, it most cases it had the opposite effect.


    Source: Irish Bulletin, 31 July 1920, page 2.


    Irish War Of Independence-Killmallock-1920 IrishBulletin_31July1920page2

  • Irish War of Independence - Holycross Murder - 17.July.1920

    Irish war of independence


    After almost eighteen months of conflict, the Irish War of Independence showed no sign of abating in July 1920. This would be another month of murder and mayhem, and in terms of engagement with the police and military the IRA inflicted almost a dozen deaths during July alone. The military naturally struck back and a month of raids and destruction followed with the civilian population bearing the brunt of most of the violence and intimidation.

    The sinister turn in tactics by both sides during the War of Independence was exemplified in the murder of Richard Lumley in Holycross, county Tipperary who was shot coming form a wake on the morning of July 4th. In the aftermath of the murder the military claimed that Lumley had been shot during a failed attempt to the burn the RIC barracks in Holycross, but this assertion was proved to be false at the subsequent inquest to his death. The verdict of the inquest was that:

    We find that Richard Lumley was willfully murdered by members of the Police and Military Force. We express our greatest horror and indignation at the dastardly outrage, also at the conduct of the police and military in firing into a house, without any provocation, where a respectable woman was being waked.


    The inquest also attacked Dublin Castle officials for the initial reports which suggested that Lumley had been killed in the midst of carrying out a raid or causing damage to the barracks. As late as March 1921 the murder of Lumley was raised in the House of Commons by a Mr Mills. Sir Hamar Greenwood claimed that the murder had been committed by unnamed members of the military meaning that it was unlikely that anyone would ever be brought to justice. In 2020, plans are in place in Tipperary to commemorate the murder of Lumley.


    Source: Irish Bulletin, 17 July 1920, page 3.



    IrishBulltin1July1920_Thumbnail IrishBulletin_17July_1920Page3



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