this week in history

  • Irish war of Independence - Violent Reprisals - 29.June.1920

    Irish War of Independence

    June 1920 ends with violent reprisals from the British military all across Ireland.


    Once again the radical newspaper, Irish Bulletin, provides an account of raids and assaults which occurred throughout Ireland in the final week of June. In Limerick city the military fired a number of shots into business and residences after midnight in a night of terror across the country. At Kilcommon, county Tipperary the homes of prominent republicans were ‘attacked’ and women and children present were severely harassed. In the same county, at Ballynonty, the military were said to have ‘shot up’ the village. At a place called Katesbridge in county Down young men returning from a sports day were fired on by a machine gun during a search on the road by the military. In Shillelagh, county Wicklow it was claimed that the fever hospital was taken over the military, denying it to the local community as a means of providing medical care for local people. The same was reported to have occurred in Kenmare, county Kerry where a detachment of the East Lancashire Regiment took over the building. These were all means of controlling the people and the countryside.


    Source: The Irish Bulletin 1918-1921, Tuesday, June 29, 1920, page 3


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  • Irish War of independence - The ‘sack of Fermoy’ - 29.June.1920


    The daring capture of Brigadier General Lucas in Fermoy county Cork during late June 1920 was captured in the pages of the Irish Bulletin.


    Described by the newspaper as the ‘Commanding Officer of the British Army of Occupation’ in the Fermoy area, the military carried out a frenzied search for him using armoured cars and even aeroplanes as large parts of Munster were scoured for evidence. It was estimated that the number of houses which were searched as a result amounted to more than 1,000. The military responded by sacking the town of Fermoy. Leaving their barrack just after midnight, over 500 soldiers proceeded to wreck the town. Over 70 business premises and homes were forcibly entered and whiskey stores consumed. The drunken soldiers then roamed the town firing shorts in the air and into dwelling houses. Many, claimed the Irish Bulletin, were seriously injured, while women and children were ‘terror stricken’. Over £40,000 worth of damage was done. On the same night soldiers in Lismore, county Waterford went on a similar rampage throughout the town, and likewise in Newcastle West, county Limerick. Lucas was released after a number of weeks. Recently letters written by him to his wife have been made publically available suggesting that he was on good terms with his captors.



    Source: The Irish Bulletin 1918-1921, Tuesday, June 29, 1920, page 1

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  • Irish War of Independence - Cycle of Violence - June.1920


    The continued violence by all sides during the War of Independence and the lawlessness that prevailed generated considerable interest in the international press, with many sending correspondents to witness events at first hand.

    In Britain, there were varying reports about the cycle of violence and in June radical newspapers such as the Irish Bulletin published extracts from some. The excerpts gave an insight into popular opinion about the progress of the war and also about the conduct of the military. The London Daily Herald claimed that ‘British rule there (Ireland) is a stark regime of oppression’, that the military were ‘running amok’ in Ireland and doing so with ‘viciousness’. The Manchester Guardian believed that Ireland wanted to restore here ‘dignity and her full prosperity’; while the London Globe claimed, that Sinn Fein was winning the war everywhere. Newspapers such as the London New Witness went as far as claiming that ‘the union is broken: England can never govern Ireland again’. They also quoted British politicians who were also of the same opinion including, for example, Philip Snowden, an MP was quoted as saying that Ireland was being ruled ‘like a conquered province’.


    Source: The Irish Bulletin,28th June 1920, page 1+2


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  • Irish War of Independence - Derry Riots - 25.June.1920

    Irish War of Independence


    The ongoing riots in Derry City continued to generate interest throughout the month of June.


    Described by the Freeman’s Journal as being on the verge of destruction, tensions ran high after Catholics were attacked coming from Mass. Catholic houses were attacked in the Waterside and families were forced to leave their homes. In a night of terror on 19 June five men were killed. The fighting continued over the course of the next few days and on 21 June a further four were killed. Reacting to the deaths and the ongoing rioting Arthur Griffith, founder of Sinn Fein, launched an astonishing attack on the British government with regard to the Derry riots claiming that they were being organised to incite sectarianism in the city. Using the platform of the Irish Bulletin newspaper Griffith claimed that the riots were being ‘engineered by persons of prominence in England’. The claim was denied in a response by Dublin Castle on 24th June, who also stated that they had no reason to anticipate the rioting. It was also claimed that weapons had been delivered to Unionists in Derry from other counties in Ulster and that they were being guarded by the RIC.



    Source: The Irish Bulletin 1918-1921, Friday, June 25, 1920, page 2.



  • Irish Radical Newspapers - Old Ireland - 19.June.1920

    Old Ireland

    Another radical newspaper in circulation in 1920 was Old Ireland a paper which provided commentary and debate on all of the leading issues of the day.


    In an edition published in June 1920 in the wake of the county council elections, the editor of Old Ireland declared that the result was ‘a defeat for Carson’ and victory for republicanism. Amongst the contributors to Old Ireland was Maud Gonne McBride who in 1920 wrote about Irish socialism in an international context. The newspaper also avidly supported the cause of labour in June 1920 espoused the rights of railway workers. Socialism, according to Aodh de Blacam was fast becoming the most important issue in Ireland. In a somewhat humorous take on ‘Ireland and America’, Kevin Stroma Dorbene believed that events in Ireland were somewhat amusing to readers across the Atlantic. ‘John Bull’ had been put in his place, according to Dorbene and if the British tried to portray that another Easter Rising was imminent in Ireland they would have face the wrath of the American Congress. The victory in the local elections the paper believed gave de Valera credibility in America, which would be of major significance as the War of Independence played out.


    Download Source: Old Ireland 1919-1921, Saturday, June 19, 1920, various



  • Irish War of Independence - Military up the ante - 18.June.1920


    Radical newspapers continued to report on the activity of the military who, very much on the back foot, up the ante in terms of targeting suspected republicans and their homes.


    The backlash also coincided with the upsurge in activity of the republican police and in many areas, incidents were directly related. In Lismore, county Waterford the military fired into the home of J. Geary; in Ardmore in the same county six houses were raided for suspects, while Patrick Grace, a farmer, and said to be incident of any charge was fired at in his home in county Kilkenny. At Killmallock, members of the Republican police were fired at when carrying out their duties and one of the party seriously wounded. In Stradbally, county Laois (Queen’s County) the military fired without warning on members of the Republican Fife and Drum band which was parading through the town. At Cappawhite, county Tipperary as many as eighteen houses were raided on one night and several gardens dug up in an attempt to uncover weapons. In the same week twelve house in Belmullet, Mayo were raided by the military.


    Download Source: The Irish Bulletin 1918-1921, Friday, June 18, 1920, page 6.


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  • Irish War of Independence - Republican Police Justice - 14.June.1920


    By June 1920 Republican Police were in control of many towns and villages across the country and began to hand out their own justice.


    One of the areas they were most concerned with preventing was petty crime and larceny. A celebrated case in Millstreet, county Cork displayed how the local Republican police reacted to the robbery of the bank at Ballydaly Cross carried out by individuals who were not connected to the IRA. Some of the men involved in the robbery were arrested but two remained at large- Hugh and Daniel O’Brien of Banteer. Issuing public descriptions of the men- ‘Wanted Posters- the IRA in Millstreet ordered that the men should be arrested on sight and brought before the Republican Courts for justice. The Irish Bulletin provides a fascinating insight into the affair including the descriptions of the two men including Hugh O’Brien who was described as ‘athletic and well built, has all the appearance of a well-drilled man. Eyes sparkling and of a restless disposition’. All caution was warned when trying to apprehend the men. Perhaps readers of the blog might be able to suggest what became of the O’Brien’s or were they apprehended by the Republican police?


    Download Source: Irish Bulletin, 14 June 1920, page 4.


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  • Irish War of Independence - Dail Courts - 12.June.1920

    Irish War of Independence


    June 1920 also witnessed the widespread establishment of republican or Dail courts, which replaced the holding of petty sessions in many towns and villages across the country. This transfer of administrative law and order was another decisive victory for the IRA. While often dealing with trivial matters they were nonetheless effective and soon people refused to bring claims before the petty sessions. The Young Ireland newspaper describes this dramatic transfer of power in June with a remarkable incident in Callan, county Kilkenny. Three cases were held at the Volunteer Court in the Town Hall in Callan where two ex-soldiers were charged with the theft of a gun from a farmer, while a third man was charged with stealing a bicycle. What made the incident remarkable was that the three men were escorted to the Court by Volunteers while the District Inspector and Head Constable of the RIC looked on at this ‘novel way of persevering law and order’. A feature of the sentences imposed on the men was that they undertook to leave the parish of Callan for twelve months. Banishment was often a more severe sentence than any monetary fine imposed by the Republican Courts.



    Download Source: Young Ireland, 12 June 1920, page 2.



  • Irish Radical Newspapers - The Irish Bulletin - 11.June.1920

    Irish Radical Newspapers


    Irish Radical newspapers continued to comment and report on the vast array of IRA activities which were being carried out across the country during the month of June.


    While the national daily newspapers and the weekly provincial press reported on large scale engagements by both the military and the IRA, the radical newspapers reported on the minutiae of the war. The Irish Bulletin, for example, reported in June of the harassment of civilians who were arrested by the military without cause. They included James and John Crowley of Ballymeen, county Galway who were ‘arrested in their beds’ and two men in Youghal, county Cork who were described as being unionist in sympathy. The Bulletin also provided information about the soldiers, including new regiments which had been sent to Ireland to back up the military. These included the ‘Camerons’ who occupied Navan workhouse in county Meath where 100 men were billeted; two destroyers who arrived in Lough Swilly; a group of fifty marines in Ballydonegan Bay, county Cork and a further thirty who were landed in Courtmacsherry in the same county. The Bulletin’s day by day account or snippets of local information provide vital information and a timeline in understanding the War of Independence at a local level.



    Download Source: The Irish Bulletin, 11.06.1920, page 7


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  • Irelands Radical Newspapers - Young Ireland - 05.June.1920

    Irish Radical Newspapers Young Ireland


    The IRA’s military campaign continued unabated in June 1920 and by the end of the month moral amongst the RIC was low.


    The courts system had virtually collapsed and there was growing uncertainty about the long term governance of the country. It was also the month of the County Council Elections where Sinn Fein swept the board nationwide, winning control in all but four county councils. The support for Sinn Fein was helped in no small way by the coverage provided by a host of Republican newspapers, pamphlets and other material. This month we focus on the Radical Irish Newspapers, the latest addition to the Irish Newspaper Archive.

    Throughout Ireland in June 1920 people anxiously waited for the latest edition of a host of radical newspapers including, for example, The Watchword of Labour, The Irish Bulletin and Young Ireland amongst others which carried news from a republic viewpoint of what was happening across Ireland. The publication of these newspapers would probably not have been possible but for the advertising they contained, advertising a host of ‘Irish made’ products, goods and services. The advertisements are interesting on a number of levels, not least because they suggest the businesses and people who openly supported the republican causes despite the pressure and intimidation they would have faced from several quarters for doing so. In June 1920 the Young Ireland newspaper for example carried adverts from M. Ryan of Cork and Cove who embroidered hats with ‘Gaelic mottoes’; Whelan & Son of Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin the ‘progressive Irish firm’ who sold ‘Irish music’, and the Fountain Book Shop on the Grand Parade, Cork who were selling the famous picture of the GPO and Easter 1916. Those like Francis Casey & Sons of the Moy in the County Tyrone did not beat about the bush in asserting where their loyalties lay asking why would you ‘support the foreigner’? Instead, Casey called on them to ‘support home industries and stop emigration’.



    Download Source: Young Ireland, Saturday, June 05, 1920, pages 4, 7, 8


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