Frenchpark Outrage - September 1920


A month of mayhem and outrage occurred in Ireland 100 years ago in September 1920. There was no end to the cycle of violence, with the civilian population the primary target. The Irish Newspaper Archive & the Radical Newspaper Archive contain numerous accounts of the outrages committed by both sides which included torture, intimidation, reprisal and counter propaganda as the War of Independence entered into its most traumatic phase.

There were many violent attacks during this phase of the War of Independence and women were frequently the target. Some attacks were carried out for associating with the military or the more serious crime of passing information to the military, which the republican cause. At other times, the crimes for which women were punished could be described as innocuous. One such case occurred in Frenchpark, county Roscommon when an elderly woman was savagely attacked over the sale of milk. As part of her punishment for the continued supply of milk to the military, the women had three pig rings inserted into the bottom part of her body by masked and armed raiders. Despite having been warned by the IRA not to do so the women continued her enterprise. However, newspapers suggested that ‘Irish Volunteers’ arrested three men concerned in the outrage and after being tried before a Republican Court they were sentenced to two years exile and duly left the country. The attack on the women came days after the death of Captain Thomas McDonagh in an ambush between Ballaghdereen and Frenchpark. Two RIC constables were killed in the attack. It was said that the military dragged the body of McDonagh through the streets of Ballaghdereen and put it on public display. A number of businesses and shops were destroyed later that night by the military in reprisal for the ambush.


Source: Evening Echo 1896-current, 07.09.1920, page 1


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