Mullingar Three Cars Shot - 03.January.1920

New Year’s Day 1920 proved to be a sensational evening in Mullingar

In January 1920 the Irish War of Independence intensified with the IRA carrying out a number of offensives in almost every county. To mark the 100th anniversary of this aspect of the campaign, this month we offer stories about the conflict as reported by the newspapers of the day.

New Year’s Day 1920 proved to be a sensational evening in Mullingar, County Westmeath when shots were fired at a number of cars as opposition to the introduction of Motor Permits intensified across the country. While nobody was seriously injured in the Mullingar attacks, the cars were badly damaged and it threatened those in the hackney business and private car owners in the county. In November 1919 the British government introduced Motor Permits in Ireland which meant that a vehicle could only be driven with a permit in an effort to curtail the activities of the IRA and in transporting weapons. The permits were hugely resented and motor unions went on strike, where they were joined in protest by other groups and unions. This armed opposition towards the permits was largely orchestrated by local IRA units who would intensify their campaign as 1920 dawned.

In Mullingar, the New Year’s Day incidents started at Clongowny, about two miles from the town when Capt. Batten, a director of the Mullingar Motor Company, and Capt. Bayley was fired at when they returned from the races. The back of the car was riddled in the attack, with Capt. Bayley suffering slight wounds to his ear. Near the same place a car belonging to Daly Brothers of Mullingar, and driven by a man named Brodar, was fired at as it returned to the town. Brodar was shot in the elbow but was able to continue onwards. Similar attacks took place at Lynn, near Mullingar including an attack on a man called Jack Foran. It was later stated that the attacks had been carried out not on individuals but on the cars and that, Mullingar had been ‘exceptional’ in complying with the new permit order.

Elsewhere, motor owners suffered a similar fate as opposition to the permits continued. In January 1920 motor cars at the fair of Fermoy in County Cork were damaged after a number of armed men checked whether the owners had permits with them. By the middle of February the Motor Union strike petered out but the permits remained and continued to cause problems for both the IRA and the civilian population throughout the War of Independence.

Download Source: Irish Independent, 3 January 1920, page 5

Irish Civil war Irish Independent 03.January.1920