this week in history

  • Timoleague RIC Barracks Attacked - 24 February 1920

    Timoleague RIC Barracks attacked Cork Examiner

    Timoleague RIC Barracks Attacked 24 February 1920 Cork Examiner 27 February 1920

    The targeting of RIC barracks across the country continued in county Cork in late February when the police at Timoleague, occupied by nine constables and two sergeants, were attacked. The attack was alleged came as a surprise owning to the quietness of the area up to that point. However, the RIC were obviously prepared for an attack, using Vesey lights to try and summon help from neighbouring barracks but none was forthcoming. Armed with rifles and hand grenades, the IRA’s attack began at 11.30 pm and lasted more than three hours. Once more the IRA had barricaded most of the roads surrounding the barracks. Located near to the railway station, the IRA commandeered railway wagons and used them as armoured cars.  The operation had been carefully planned and John ‘Flyer’ Nyhan, a member of the local IRA company had scouted the barracks prior to the attack when delivering goods to the policemen. In total, almost 100 men were involved in the attack, the outcome of which could have been much different only bombs failed to explode and was found outside by the police after the affray. The stationmaster’s house was badly damaged during the attack, but no casualties were reported. In the days that followed reports that IRA volunteers had been arrested at the scene were dismissed. Almost simultaneously, an attack was made on the RIC barracks at nearby Mount Pleasant on the same evening lasting over four hours.

    Source: Irish Examiner, 27 February 1920, page 5

    Cork Examiner 27 February 1920


    Irish Examiner 1841-current, Friday, February 27, 1920 PG 5

  • RIC barracks in Ballynahinch Failed Sinn Féin Plot

    RIC barracks in Ballynahinch attack 23 February 1920

    RIC barracks in Ballynahinch Attacked Failed 23 February 1920

    An attempt to blow up the RIC barracks in Ballynahinch, county Down was widely condemned within in February 1920 when as the Belfast Newsletter wrote the ‘operations of Sinn Fein happily failed in its murderous intent’. Ballynahinch was a small garrison of only five policemen and was manned at the time by Sergeant Doherty and Constables Fennell, Barrett, Coyne and Elliot.

    Sinn Fein in Ulster plot failed

    Shortly after 3 am on 23 February one of the RIC men heard a noise outside the barracks and it was discovered that a ‘diabolical’ plan was in place to blow up the building. The IRA on this occasion had managed to make a hole in the wall into which a stick of gelignite had been placed. According to the RIC had it exploded the neighbouring house belonging to a man called Samuel Anderson would also have been destroyed. In advance of the attack, the IRA had managed to cut all of the telegraph wires preventing communication with Belfast and neighbouring towns. Trees were cut down and gates and large stones were used to block the roads. There had been a large number of visitors through the village during the day but nothing untoward was anticipated in what was perceived to have been ‘loyal county Down’. The plot to blow up the barracks was foiled and the IRA retreated.

    Download Source: Belfast Newsletter, 24 Feb 1920, page 5.

    Belfast Newsletter 24 february 1920 Download RIC Barracks attack failed

    Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, Tuesday, February 24, 1920 page 5

  • Prisoners Release Draws Large Crowd - 22.February.1920

    Cattle drive prisoners 22 February 1920

    The release from prison of a man convicted to taking part in cattle drive was enthusiastically welcomed in Queen’s County (Laois) in February 1920. Anthony Monohan of Cappagh, near Borris-in –Ossory was welcomed home by a large crowd who gathered at Ballybrophy train station having served two months in jail for driving cattle off the lands of Thomas Colcough near Borris-in-Ossory. Met by the Knocknaree Pipers Band and the Borris-in-Ossory Fife and Drum Band, Monahan was paraded through the streets, feted as a local hero.

    Navan prisoners welcome home 2

    During his term of imprisonment, Colcough had surrendered the lands on which the cattle drive had taken place, such was the level of animosity towards him and the growing agitation amongst small holders and landless people. In the coming months a number of other estates would be divided up following agitation. There were similar scenes in county Meath when cattle drivers were released from prison including at Navan where the ‘Back to the Land Association’ welcomed prisoners home ‘amid much cheering and singing’. In Navan the tone of the speeches delivered reflected the view that the association was determined to secure land for people in the future. The speeches at Navan also came a number of days after land was targeted by cattle drivers and where a grave and wooden cross were placed on the land, suggesting the outcome for the owner if he did not comply with the agitators.

    Download Source: Nationalist & Leinster times, 28 Feb 1920, page 5; see also Drogheda Independent, 21 Feb 1920; page 4.

    Drogheda Independent 1884-current Saturday February 21 1920                    Drogheda Independent Saturday February 21 1920 page 4

  • By 1920 the GAA had become the most prominent sporting organisation - 21.February.1920

    GAA Organise Games 1920 February

    By 1920 the GAA had become the most prominent sporting organisation across the country and was closely aligned to the political aspirations of Irish nationalists.

    Despite the ongoing troubles in Ireland (and the inclement weather) the GAA continued to organise games during the month of February. The GAA in county Tipperary was said to have delighted when martial law was postponed in February allowing them to organise games and dances in several county towns. Huge crowds attended a gold medal tournament at the Cork Athletic Grounds and in Croke Park where reigning all Ireland champions Kildare took on Wexford. Other matches including Dublin and Kilkenny in a senior hurling challenge were orgainsed for the Motor Strikers Fund in Dublin. The continued motor strike threatened the playing of a match between Cavan and Meath in Oldcastle, but the Cavan county board suggested the novel idea of the players travelling by rail on the previous day and staying overnight to allow the came to be played. In a debate which has resonance with Ireland and the GAA in 2020, the annual convention of the Kerry County Board considered the debt which the board had accrued most of which stemmed from the preparation of the county team. Costing £115 to prepare the Kerry senior team one newspaper reported that ‘it takes some money to train a team for all Ireland honours’. At the same meeting, Austin Stack was unanimously elected as the chairman of the county board underlining the connections between politics and the GAA during this period.

     Download Source: The Liberator (Tralee), 17 Feb 1920, page 3 &  Download Source: The Cork Examiner 19 Feb 1920, page 7;




  • IRA Attack Railway Lines - 20.February.1920

    IRA ATTACK RAILWAYS to prevent RIC Movement February 1920

    IRA Target Railway Lines - February 1920

    As the War of independence progressed, attacks on railway lines and their staff increased as the IRA attempted to prevent the movement of the RIC and the military. Trains that were carrying weapons were also attacked as at Drumcondra, county Dublin in February 1920 (see earlier post this month). In county Donegal, the railway at Burtonport and trains traveling on the line came under attack on a number of occasions in 1920. During one attack in February, big stones were placed on the line forcing the drivers' engine off the track but the carriage remained on the line. Reports from the incident described the danger which railway workers faced and it was luck that there was no loss of life.

    Donegal RAILWAY OUTRAGE February 1920

    Later that month as the train was due at the village of Kincasslagh in Donegal fifteen masked men held up the station master, cut the wires and smashed equipment in his cabin. With the station master held at gunpoint, the train was then ransacked but the IRA retreated without finding any weapons or ammunition on-board. Later in 1920, the Burtonport train was again targeted by the IRA when coming from Derry, the train was held up at a place called Crolly by armed men. Two men were wounded by a shotgun during the raid, while the driver was told to take the train to a ‘lonely spot’ where it was searched, again in vain, for ammunition.

    Download Source: Freemans Journal, 20 February 1920, page 3.

    Freemans JournaL February 20 1920 PG 1

  • IRA Sensational Attack Camp RIC Barracks - 19.February.1920


    IRA Attack Camp RIC Barracks Co. Kerry 19.February.1920

    The attack on Camp RIC barracks in County Kerry by the IRA caused a sensation locally and indicated the first withdrawal of the constabulary from the countryside. Carried out using rifles, revolvers, hand grenades and crowbars the IRA were intent not just on seizing weapons but on destroying the barracks.

    RIC Barracks attack Kerry

    Sergeant McDonagh and six police officers were present in the barracks and replied with rifle fire and grenades. Lasting over an hour the IRA succeeded in blowing a hole in the gable wall of the barracks and called on the RIC to surrender. McDonagh, who had been shot through the cheek ordered that no surrender would be made and returned fire immediately. The IRA then retreated and left guns and crowbars behind them. The police investigating the scene in the aftermath of the attack found two revolvers, one with a bullet mark, suggesting the holder of the gun had been hit. At least three IRA men were injured in the attack. As with all of the attacks on RIC barracks which had taken place to date in Ireland, the roads were torn up, trees were cut and blocked the road, while all methods of communication had been cut. In the days that followed a number of houses in Tralee were searched and indeed in early March raids were still being carried out in connection with the attack. A few days after the attack the police decided to abandon the building, took away all of their possessions and set fire to the shell of the barracks.

    Download Source: Kerryman, 21 February 1920, page 3.

    Kerryman February 21 1920 CAMP RIC BARRACKS ATTACK

    Kerryman 1904-current, Saturday, February 21, 1920

  • Ellen Morris Murder Fiendish Outrage - 17.February.1920

    Ellen Morris Murdered 17 february 1920

    Murder of Ellen Morris - Fiendish Outrage

    A ‘fiendish outrage’ was how the Belfast Newsletter described the murder of Ellen Morris in county Wexford in February 1920.

    elderly women small

    Aged 60 and a native of Glentine, Ballagh near Enniscorthy. Six masked men stormed the Morris house and when Morris took a spade to force the raiders out and one of the attackers pointed a revolver at her and shot her through the heart. A person in the house looked to go to get a priest but the raiders told them ‘no priest’ and that they were not to leave the house for two hours. The raid had been carried out on the house for arms and it was known locally that Morris had a son who was in the Royal Army Service Corps. The murder of Ellen Morris was met with revulsion locally in county Wexford and beyond. Members of the Ballagh Ancient Order of Hibernians, a nationalist fraternal organisation, provided a guard of honour at the funeral, which took place at Oulart, near Enniscorthy. Later in 1920, at the Wexford Assizes thirteen men were brought for trial and a man called John Lacy admitted firing the shot but pleaded that it was not intentional. While the case was being prepared for the assizes a number of statements were given to a police officer but he was later shot before the trial. Huge crowds were present at the trial and the prisoners were brought from Dublin to Rosslare by boat and under a heavily armed guard. Lacy, only eighteen years old, it was claimed panicked during the raid but was found guilty of murder.

    Download Source: Belfast Newsletter, 16 February 1920, page 5; See also Freeman’s Journal, 18 February 1920, page 4.

    free 1                                          Belfast Newsletter 1

  • Day of Outrage in Ireland - 16.February.1920

    Outrage in Ireland - 16.February.1920

    Throughout the month of February 1920, a number of outrages were committed across the country, the motives for which were not always clear.

    At Ballylongford, county Kerry a young man named Heaphy was shot through the shoulder as he left his house, the shot alleged to have been fired by a policeman. The injured man was removed to hospital in Limerick and said to have been in a precarious condition. In the same week, a soldier in Ballyshannon, county Donegal fired several rounds of his weapon in the air before being overpowered by other soldiers who took the gun from him. In county Westmeath, at a place called Tubber, a shot was fired through the window of a house, narrowly missing the occupant. Land was said to have been the issue in this incident. In Limerick City a man named James Dalton, who was employed in the Limerick Gas Works was fired at, as he made his way home from work. Four revolver shots were fired, one of which hit Dalton in the hand, fracturing a finger. Two men were observed in a lane way after the incident but made their escape, although one it was claimed had been identified. Dalton took an active part in the election of Eamon de Valera in East Clare and Count Plunkett in Roscommon. According to Dalton he had dismissed rumours concerning him in the Sinn Fein movement, but he had declined to bring slander charges. In light of the number of outrages across the country, it was little wonder that the Irish bishops in their Lenten Pastorals delivered the same week, called on people to desist from joining secret societies or carrying out these outrages.

    Download Source: Freemans Journal, 16 February 1920; Page: 3; See also Limerick Leader, 16 February 1920, page 3.

    Limerick Leader 1905-current Monday February 16 1920                              Freemans Journal 1763-1924 Monday February 16 1920

  • Drumcondra Train Attack - 13 February 1920

    Drumcondra Train Attack 14 February 1920

    The attack on a train at Drumcondra on 13 February 1920 highlighted both how daring and orgainsed IRA units had become. At 8.45pm a military train, with 47 wagons left the North Wall Railway Station bound for Athlone barracks in county Westmeath. The IRA, having received intelligence about the contents on-board the train lay in wait and looked to seize the arms, most of which were miniature rifles, which would have been ideal weapons for the guerrilla campaign, which was being waged. Taking no chances and indicating that they would be ruthless in their approach, at Newcomen Bridge the signalman Michael Geraghty was shot in his cabin as the train passed through. Another signalman, William Dunne was held up between Jones Road and Drumcondra station. About twenty IRA men took up a position at Gilford Place, while a similar number remained in the street with two motor cars. Neither car had lights or numbers and the attack was carried out under the cover of darkness. The military later confirmed that they could not see their attackers. When the train came to a halt at Drumcondra three bombs were thrown at the carriages followed by a number of revolver shots. Among the military, Lance Corporal Markely was injured from shrapnel caused by the explosion and was later taken to hospital. Two masked raiders climbed on to the train and gave orders for it to be backed up. It was unclear how many weapons, if any, had been taken by the IRA during the attack.

    Download Irish Examiner 1841-current, Monday, February 16, 1920

     Cork Examiner 16 February 1920 drumcondra train attack

  • Dr Lambert Parkwood House Bombed - 03.February.1920

    Cork Examiner 07.February.1920  Bomb attack

    Dr Lambert House Bomb Attack

    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.

    On Tuesday, 2nd of February 1920 the house of Dr. Lambert, Parkswood, was attacked with a number of bombs placed against the front of the house which exploded.

    The explosions were said to have caused widespread panic in the locality. Luckily, the residents escaped harm but the front windows of the house were shattered. It was claimed that robbery was the motive of the attackers, although it was unclear if the IRA were responsible. A number of sporting guns were present in the house, which was located in an isolated part of the county, about a quarter of a mile from Passage East. Lambert was the only member of the family present on this occasion, while an aged housekeeper was said to have been severely shocked by the attack. Some sources regarded simply as an act of ‘wanton blackguardism’. The Lambert’s had been resident at Parkswood for many years and indeed as far back as 1851 members of the family had assisted people in emigrating to America during the Great Famine. While the attack on Lambert’s house shocked the county it was quickly overshadowed by the attack on the RIC barracks at Ardmore, county Waterford later that month. Here the IRA broke into Foley’s public house opposite the barracks and began their long ‘fusilade’. Mr & Mrs Foley were said to have been terrified by the ambush which lasted over two hours but it was reported that the IRA had not touched anything in the public house during their stay. 

    Download Source:  Irish Examiner, February 07, 1920; Page: 8

    Irish Examiner 1841-current Saturday February 07 1920 page 1

    Irish Examiner 1841-current, Saturday, February 07, 1920

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