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  • RIC Constable Evades Capture - August 1920

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    Throughout August 1920 IRA attacks on the military and police took on very different forms, including engaging with large parties such as at Annascaul in county Kerry to ambushing small parties of the police such as at Ballybay in county Monaghan.

    Here RIC Constables Boyd and Sharkey of Ballybay were returning from Newbliss when they were ambushed at a place called Aughadrumken, three miles from Newbliss. About half a dozen shots hit the motor car in which they were travelling and Constable Boyd was injured in the process. Although injured, Boyd returned fire and engaged with his enemy who were located on both sides of the road. He was quickly surrounded by the IRA and overpowered, although he lay on his revolver to avoid its capture. Constable Sharkey was taken from the vehicle, which was quickly dismantled to make it inoperable, and made swear that he would resign the force a tactic of intimidation widely practiced by the IRA. Constable Boyd was later transferred to the Monaghan infirmary for treatment. Scouring the countryside in the aftermath of the attack, the military were aware that one of the ambushing party had been injured and was obviously receiving medical treatment somewhere but no arrests were made.

     

    Source: Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, 11.08.1920, page 6

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  • Annascaul Dangerous Manoeuvre - August 1920

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    Described as an exceptionally dangerous manoeuvre, IRA volunteers waited patiently for a part of thirteen military as they made their way to Dingle with provisions.

    Upon their return and near Annascaul the ambushers surprised the military and called halt. When the order was not answered they opened fire on the lorry, injuring four soldiers in the process. The soldiers were quickly surrounded and decided to surrender. Their weapons were seized and the lorry set on fire. Interestingly, given the nature of the campaign to date, a passing motor car was commandeered by the IRA to bring the injured military to Dingle for medical treatment. Other military prisoners it was stated were treated to tea in a nearby farmers house awaiting the return of the commandeered car from Dingle. Other prisoners were brought towards Dingle and released on the road. In Tralee and Dingle rifle could be heard that night but the location could not be discerned. People retired to their homes before the curfew but five youths passing the police barracks in Tralee were arrested. The Annascaul ambush, which involved a considerable number of volunteers and was carefully planned, proved successful for the IRA in capturing arms and also identifying weaknesses in the military’s movements in west Kerry.

     

    Source: Kerryman 1904-current, 21.08.1920, page 1

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  • Irish Volunteers Winning The War

    INA_Blog_1Aug1920

    As British military and police retaliations and reprisals continued throughout the country with homes and businesses wrecked in the process, An t-Oglach, the newspaper of the Irish Volunteers urged its members to ‘Keep Cool’ as they were winning the war.

    In its front-page memorandum of 7 August the editor encouraged not to bow to the burning of Irish towns which is ‘getting out of hands’. Although such action was almost certain to drive volunteers into a fit of rage, the newspaper urged them to remain calm. As the police withdrew from remote areas the result would be a more effective volunteer organisation who could carry out their duties undetected. The editor of the newspaper urged that:

    It is the duty of volunteers, in face of this outrageous provocation, to go on with the work as coolly and efficiently as ever, with stern discipline, unshaken determination, and even greater energy than before. The enemy’s latest outbreaks of pillage and arson are only symptoms of baffled rage and demoralisation, a proof that he realises he is badly hit. His principal weapon of offence and defence, the RIC is crumbling to pieces in his hands’.

    A striking line in the editorial noted that volunteers should fight in a way and time that suited themselves and not to allow the enemy to provoke them.

     

    Source: An t-Oglach, 7 August 1920, page 1.

  • British Government White Paper - August 1920

    British Government White Paper

    In early August 1920 the British government released statistics in what was called a ‘White Paper’ on the extent of the conflict in Ireland for the previous two months.

    During May and June 1920 seventeen policemen and nine civilians had been killed. During the same period there had been 727 attacks on property and 415 attacks on persons, which included acts of intimidation. Thirty-two courthouses were destroyed, twelve occupied RIC barracks were attack or destroyed, and 157 unoccupied were also targeted. Ten coastguard stations had been raided, while government buildings had been targeted for arms, petrol and old aged pensions. Numerous post offices had been raided, while incendiary fires and shots fired at dwelling houses also occurred. In a number of engagements with the IRA, policemen had been disarmed and almost forty were wounded. Trains carrying mail was a constant target and during these two months almost fifty mail cars and trains were targeted. The ‘White Paper’ figures may not have reflected damage done by soldiers and policemen on public property as they retaliated to IRA attacks throughout the country. It is likely that these figures were far higher as the civilian population began to bear the brunt of the War of Independence.

     

    Source: Irish Independent 1905-current, 07.08.1920, page 4

     

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  • Ballyvolane Ambush - August 1920

    Balyvolane Ambush - August 1920

    There were many ambushes in county Cork during the War of Independence where IRA battalions caught the military by surprise.

    One such occasion occurred in August 1920 about four miles from Cork at a place called Ballyvolane, where nine military personnel who were being driven on patrol were ambushed by the IRA. During the attack five soldiers were wounded in what was a carefully executed attack. As the military passed a section of the road a bomb was thrown at the lorry and five soldiers were injured in the blast. The injured soldiers made their way to a field where a Lewis gun opened fire on them. The explosion was returned by the military with rifle and revolver fire. One of the most interesting aspects of this attack was that an aeroplane which was accompanying the lorry hovered overhead. Eventually, the aeroplane returned at full speed to Victoria Barracks and raised the alarm that the military convoy was under attack. Several lorries of military personal, the Staffordshire Regiment were quickly on their way and they carried out an extensive search of the area, but few clues could be found as to who carried out the attack and no arrests were made. Interestingly, in the search that followed five German made revolvers were found amongst other ammunition left at the ambush site.

     

    Source: Irish Independent 1905-current, 02.08.1920, page 6

     

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  • Labourers Grievances July 1920

    Labourers Grievances July 1920

    As we have already seen, the cause of labour was very much to the fore in every town and village across the country in July 1920 where agricultural labourers and others aired their grievances.

    In Dublin and other large centres it was very much the same scenario although involving workers in a different industries. In July Dublin drapers rejected proposals for wage increases, while the issue of holiday entitlements and the number of working hours in the week were also dissatisfactory. More successful were the Dublin ironmongers who accepted the proposed terms, while others such as the Dublin Coach and Van Builders continued to press for their requirements. There was an outcry at the ‘scandalous’ wages being paid to grocers porters and other assistants. In what was seen as a great victory for these workers, Messrs Delahunt agreed to increase the wages of their staff which gave hope that others would follow suit. Elsewhere, there were victories for Shelbourne Park groundskeepers, saw mill operatives and the Dublin Mineral Water production workers. Yet, not everybody was happy with the growing trade unionism within Dublin. When bricklayers and stonemasons went on strike there was outrage that they did not consult other workers on these building sites who were evidently hampered by their actions. These cases were but a sample of the industrial unrest which continued to grow as the War of Independence intensified.

     

    Source: The Watchword of Labour 1919-1920, Saturday, July 24, 1920, page 7

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  • Torched Big Houses - July 1920

    Torched Big Houses

    By mid 1920 the IRA had turned their attention from raiding country houses for weapons to occupying and burning them.

    Using the pretense that the house was soon to be occupied by the military, the IRA torched these ‘Big Houses’. Already a number including those in Offaly, Limerick and Wicklow had been burned. Usually allowing the occupants about fifteen minutes to whatever contents they wished, it was a scene reenacted about 300 times before the end of the Civil War in 1923. The raid on Glendalough House, near Annamoe in county Wicklow then in July 1920 was of a different pattern. The home of Robert Barton MP for West Wicklow who was serving three years in prison was raided by several hundred members of the British military. There they proceeded to ‘ransack’ the house and grounds. During the search barbed wire blocked all the approaches, armoured cars patrolled the avenues and aero planes circled overhead. All that was found in the hour long search was a Sinn Fein flag and an antique gun. The three ladies and their female servants present in the house were said to have been shaken by the ordeal. Over a year later Barton was released from prison and of course would play a major role in the treaty negotiations. Travelling to London with the Irish delegation who included his cousin, Erskine Childers, Barton reluctantly signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty in December 1921.

    Source: Irish Bulletin, 24 July 1920, page 1

     

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  • Irish Volunteer Shot - July 1920

     Irish Volunteer Shot - July 1920

    The murder of James (or Seamus) Cogan, a member of the Irish Volunteers, shot dead in Oldscastle, county Meath on 21 July 1920 was a deliberate attempt to try and regain control at a local level.

    The British military, particularly the newly arrived recruits, were determined to prevent the holding of Republican courts and stamp out the authority of the Republican police. When members of the Oldcastle Republican Police were transferring a noted ‘cattle stealer’ to court they were stopped by the police who called on them to halt. Ignoring the call, Cogan was shot as his comrades proceeded on their business. The republican police returned fire and engaged the military before bringing Cogan’s body to safety where they proceeded to give him a military burial. Seven days later Cogan’s funeral took place in the village of Ballinlough. In a huge display of defiance, more than a thousand volunteers marched behind the funeral procession, while local members of the G.A.A, Sinn Fein, and the Gaelic League were also present. The killing of Cogan, one of the most respected leaders of the Meath IRA, came at a time when they were actively trying to restore law and order to the county after months of agrarian unrest, some of which this blog has highlighted in the past. Today, a memorial stands to Cogan, unveiled in 1961, stands in Oldcastle village stating that he had been ‘faithful until death’.

    Source: Irish Bulletin, 24 July 1920, page 10.

    Irish Volunteer Shot Irish Bulletin -24.July.1920

  • Irish War of Independence - Incendiary Action - 30.June.1920

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    As the month of June wore on the British military resorted to targeting a number of types of premises connected to the Republican movement including newspaper offices and printing shops.

     

    These included the offices of the Munster News, a Limerick based nationalist newspaper which was set on fire in the middle of the night. The editorial and commercial departments were entirely destroyed, while Miss Connellan, the sister of the proprietors and the only occupant of the premises was rescued after having her two arms fractured. They also done the same in Newcastle West in county Limerick where they wrecked the offices of the weekly Observer newspaper, which was Republican in tone. The military and police first visited the house of the newspapers editor, Dr Brouder, demanding that he be handed over to be shot. Learning that he was not at home they set fire to the house and then proceeded to the newspaper offices where they did the same, this time using incendiary bombs. Damage of over £3,000 was done. Perhaps the Irish Newspaper Archive collection would have been larger but for the actions of the ‘Black and Tans’ in Limerick in June 1920!

     

    Source: Irish Bulletin, 30th June 1920, page 1/2

     

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