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