this week in history

  • Irish War of Independence - Arson - 19.May.1920

    Irish War of Independence


    May 1920 would see the Irish country house become a prime target of IRA brigades across the country who for months previous had raided such houses in the hope of securing weapons. Now their attention turned to arson.


    The month of May also witnessed an upsurge in the number of raids for arms, which included ‘sporting guns’ as the IRA wished to add to their arsenal. These included In Ballymote, county Sligo a number of houses were raided by a party of IRA who were armed with revolvers and rifles and carried away four guns, and at Cloyne in county Cork. At Clara in King’s County (Offaly) a number of men raided the house of a man called Dillon in a dispute over land. There were also a number of raids threatening families not to allow their children to join the RIC. In county Leitrim, Bridget McCann was attacked by armed and masked men who made her swear to have her son Owen return from the RIC depot. And the month of May was also an opportunistic time for criminals who either posed as the IRA or were presumed to be so by their victims. In Listowel, county Kerry three men were apprehended by the IRA and threatened that they would be shot if they did not return stolen goods. The above gives some indication of the sense of lawlessness which prevailed in the country at the time.


    Download Source: Irish Independent, 19 May 1920, page 6


    Irish War of IndependenceIrishIndependent

  • Irish War of Independence - Lives Lost - 18.May.1920

    Irish War of Independence


    The shooting of an IRA volunteer in county Kerry in May 1920 resulted in a dramatic speech the following week at Tralee petty sessions.


    As E.M.P. Wynne Resident Magistrate made his way to the village of Causeway in county Kerry on 11 May 1920 he was ambushed by an IRA party led by a man called Mike Nolan. Hoping to apprehend Wynne and take him hostage in an effort to prevent him presiding at the petty sessions, Wynne fired at his would be attackers shooting Nolan dead in the process. The IRA retreated, taking their fallen comrade with them and who was hastily buried nearby. Speaking at the Petty Session in Tralee the following week Wynne noticed his disappointment that the attack had been carried out on him. Asking the press to take note of what he was going to say, Wynne commented that ‘I very much regret to hear of the deaths that have occurred in connection with the attack that was made on me when going to Causeway Petty Sessions last Tuesday’. Wynne it seems was perturbed by the fact that he would be attacked in such a manner noting that ‘I could have been attacked and easily shot any time within the last few years...I trusted the Kerry people and always found them kindly and courteous’. Offering his sincere regret to the families of the bereaved, Wynne was surrounded by armed RIC officers fearing another attempt on his life. He left the country a few days later never to return.


    Download Source: Evening Herald, 18 May 1920, page 1


    Irish War of IndependenceEveningHerald

  • Irish War of Independence - Brutal Attacks - 17.May.1920

    Irish War of Independence


    After a weekend of rioting and outrage in Derry, the Evening Herald newspaper described as series of ‘brutal attacks’ carried out by a ‘band of blackguards’ on the night of 17 May 1920.


    While the attacks were in the main perpetrated by nationalist ‘rowdies’, it was also evident that those of the Unionist persuasion also took part in the rioting and general lawlessness throughout the night. Fearing that the building would be attacked, a special guard was placed at the Convent of Mercy. Intermittent shots could be heard throughout the night, but no injuries were reported. A few days later, the Ulster Herald newspaper cautioned against the dangers of sectarianism creeping into Ireland, and warned that was happening in Derry was of no help to the national struggle for independence. In effect, the newspaper commented that the Derry riots were to the complete opposite of what republicanism stood for. After several nights of violence the victims included: Detective Sergeant Moroney, killed; District inspector McDonagh, scalp wound; John McCallon, ex-soldier, bayonet wound to the head; James McCarthy (aged 18), killed on Sunday night having been shot through the ling; Bernard Doherty, ex-soldier, injured, as were three others named Martin, Quiqley and Wray. It was claimed in several quarters that the unionists were well armed with revolvers and rifles. There was confusion in the days that followed over an order to proclaim the city, owing to the fact that the Lord Mayor of the city was a nationalist and had not taken an oath of allegiance to the crown.


    Download Source: Evening Herald, 18 May 1920, page 1. See also Ulster Herald 1901-current, Saturday, May 22, 1920; Page: 5





  • 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


    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


    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


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    Irish Examiner 17 May 1920irish exam 17_05_1920

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  • Irish War of Independence - IRA Ambush - 10.May.1920


    Irish War of Independence 10th May 1920

    On the 10 May 1920 an IRA ambush at Timoleague, county Cork resulted in the deaths of three RIC officers and another severely injured. Taking advantage of an agrarian dispute which they knew would draw the RIC to the scene, the IRA opened fire on the unsuspecting police patrol in what was a well prepared ambush.


    The dead included Sergeant John Flynn and Constables Edward Dunne and William Brick, while Constable Grimsdale was badly wounded and transferred to the infirmary. One newspaper account reported that the police men had little chance as the ‘rain of bullets was deadly’. In the days that followed there was widespread condemnation of the killings, particularly in county Cork. In a remarkable outburst the Most Rev Dr Kelly, Bishop of Cork and Ross condemned the shooting at Timolegue which he said ‘mad his flesh creep’. Speaking during the course of mass in Skibbereen, he continued by saying that it was a ‘callous and deliberate murder. It was slaughter. Likewise, speaking in Kanturk the Most Rev Dr Browne, stated that freedom would not be won by murder and called on the young men of the area to examine their consciences. At the funeral of Cosntable Dunne in Laois a few days later the Right Rev Monsignor Murphy spoke of his abhorrence at the murder of the police men, noting that there was ‘deep grief’ felt by the people of Raheen from where Dunne, a Catholic, came from.


    Download Source: Irish Independent, 14 May 1920 page 4 ; see also Leinster Express 1831-current, 15.05.1920, page 3


    Irish War of Independence 10th may 1920irish independant


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  • Irish War of Independence- Roscommon Outrage - 7.May.1920

    Irish War of Independence

    May 1920 would display the many ways in which the Irish War of Independence would be fought. Perhaps in greater number than before - intimidation, attacks and outrages were committed on the general population as the IRA’s war extended beyond the RIC barrack or the military ambush. In this month’s blog posts we focus on how all sections of society were affected by the ongoing violence and terror


    In the first week of May 1920 a whole host of outrages were reported around the country. At Elphin, county Roscommon a man named Connor who was in the process of joining the RIC was fired at, while in Ballyconnell, county Cavan an armed and masked group called at the house of Thomas Maguaran and forced him to swear that he would not join the police.


    In county Galway two men named Griffen and O’Connell were fired at and wounded near Menlo, while two men named Duddy and Jennings were forcibly removed from their houses near Tuam in the same county and taken away in a motor car, their fate unknown. In Listwoel, county Kerry two men named Brennan and Foley were taken from their house by twelve armed men and severely beaten. In county Roscommon a man was attacked, stripped naked and forced to walk home with no clothes. A few days previously cattle had been driven from his brother’s land and he was threatened with death if he did not surrender his holding. A number of other houses. Threatening letters were sent to the wife of a county Cavan RIC sergeant and those who had refused to subscribe to the Dail Loan. Threatening letters were also sent to people to surrender their farms and to have any dealings with the RIC or to work as servants in their homes.

    Download Source: Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, 07.05.1920, page 7




  • Irish War of Independence - Belfast Newsletter - 5th.May.1920

    Irish war of independence

    May 1920 would display the many ways in which the Irish War of Independence would be fought. Perhaps in greater number than before - intimidation, attacks and outrages were committed on the general population as the IRA’s war extended beyond the RIC barrack or the military ambush. In this month’s blog posts we focus on how all sections of society were affected by the ongoing violence and terror.


    In what would become a familiar story of the Irish War of Independence, but one which many wished to forget, the targeting of women.


    In May 1920 a ‘shocking outrage’ was committed near Tuam, county Galway when a group of seven armed and disguised men dragged a girl from a house during the night. The men had threatened to blow up the house unless they got the girl. Taking her from her bed she soon became unconscious with the fright. One of the men then took a pair of shears, and signing ‘we’re out for Ireland Free’ cut off her hair and asked at the same time should he cut her ears too. He sister was threatened with the same fate. Three arrests were subsequently made. Later that month three men were sentenced to six month imprisonment with hard labour for the attack on the girl. According to the evidence given in court the young girl was told ‘that is what you get for going with Tommies’, a reference to her interaction with the military. Describing it as a ‘blackguarding action’, Mr Golding representing the girl stated: ‘god help Ireland if these are the acts of Irishmen, and god help Ireland if these are the men to free her’. The girl was said to have been in a complete state of shock following the attack which was described by the judges as one of the worst cases which ever came before them.

    Download Source: Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, 05.05.1920, page 5; See also Westmeath Examiner 1882-current, Saturday, May 15, 1920; Page: 6


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    West Meath Examiner-5th-may-1920

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    Belfast Newsletter-5th-may-1920

  • War of Independence Belfast Newsletter - 02.May.1920

    Irish War of Independence 01.May.1920

    May 1920 would display the many ways in which the Irish War of Independence would be fought. Perhaps in greater number than before - intimidation, attacks and outrages were committed on the general population as the IRA’s war extended beyond the RIC barrack or the military ambush. In this month’s blog posts we focus on how all sections of society were affected by the ongoing violence and terror.

    May 1920 began with a daring and successful raid on military equipment in county Kerry.

    When military equipment arrived in Kerry for the soon to be established camp near Dingle the IRA in the county sent out a clear warning of their intentions and indeed competence. On the night of 1 May the IRA arrived at Tralee railway station and took all of the tents and bedding which had been sent in advance. The equipment was left in trucks at the station, awaiting the arrival of the military on the following morning when the IRA seized the opportunity to destroy it. A large body of men arrived during the night and as no guard had been left to look after the consignment, they took all of the equipment out onto the road and burned it in a large fire. Displaying how the IRA were growing in confidence and the daringness of its volunteers, the fire was lit within 100 yards of the RIC barracks and close to the coastguard station. Later that month the military sought compensation before the Tralee Quarter Sessions for the loss of the equipment but got little sympathy from the court which were overseen by Judge Cusack. The judge was unimpressed and claimed that someone had ‘blundered’ by not sending an escort with the equipment. Even in a time of peace, Cusack maintained, this was the right thing to do. Giving evidence, Michael Slattery, the night watchman at the railway station claimed that he had been held up by an armed gang and that there was little that he could do to prevent the burning of the equipment. Providing compensation for the railway company, Cusack struck out the military claim to be dealt with at the next sessions, claiming that ‘those military men don’t know where they are after a time’.

    Download Source: Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, 01.05.1920, page 5; See also Kerry News 1894-1941, Friday, May 28, 1920; Page: 3

    Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, Saturday, May 01, 1920 page 5

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