Irish Newspaper Archive

  • Irish War of Independence - Dail Courts - 12.June.1920

    Irish War of Independence


    June 1920 also witnessed the widespread establishment of republican or Dail courts, which replaced the holding of petty sessions in many towns and villages across the country. This transfer of administrative law and order was another decisive victory for the IRA. While often dealing with trivial matters they were nonetheless effective and soon people refused to bring claims before the petty sessions. The Young Ireland newspaper describes this dramatic transfer of power in June with a remarkable incident in Callan, county Kilkenny. Three cases were held at the Volunteer Court in the Town Hall in Callan where two ex-soldiers were charged with the theft of a gun from a farmer, while a third man was charged with stealing a bicycle. What made the incident remarkable was that the three men were escorted to the Court by Volunteers while the District Inspector and Head Constable of the RIC looked on at this ‘novel way of persevering law and order’. A feature of the sentences imposed on the men was that they undertook to leave the parish of Callan for twelve months. Banishment was often a more severe sentence than any monetary fine imposed by the Republican Courts.



    Download Source: Young Ireland, 12 June 1920, page 2.



  • Irish Radical Newspapers - The Irish Bulletin - 11.June.1920

    Irish Radical Newspapers


    Irish Radical newspapers continued to comment and report on the vast array of IRA activities which were being carried out across the country during the month of June.


    While the national daily newspapers and the weekly provincial press reported on large scale engagements by both the military and the IRA, the radical newspapers reported on the minutiae of the war. The Irish Bulletin, for example, reported in June of the harassment of civilians who were arrested by the military without cause. They included James and John Crowley of Ballymeen, county Galway who were ‘arrested in their beds’ and two men in Youghal, county Cork who were described as being unionist in sympathy. The Bulletin also provided information about the soldiers, including new regiments which had been sent to Ireland to back up the military. These included the ‘Camerons’ who occupied Navan workhouse in county Meath where 100 men were billeted; two destroyers who arrived in Lough Swilly; a group of fifty marines in Ballydonegan Bay, county Cork and a further thirty who were landed in Courtmacsherry in the same county. The Bulletin’s day by day account or snippets of local information provide vital information and a timeline in understanding the War of Independence at a local level.



    Download Source: The Irish Bulletin, 11.06.1920, page 7


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  • Irish War of Independence - Labour Strikes - June.1920



    One of the features of the War of Independence in June 1920 was the escalation of labour strikes and disputes throughout the country as people began to air their grievances.


    The radical newspaper, The Watchword of Labour was to the forefront of informing the public of the nature and progress of these disputes. In county Kilkenny both county council workers and farmers unions were agitating for better pay and working conditions throughout June 1920. In Naas, county Kildare female workers in the Morton carpet factory in the town were anxious for an improvement in their wages and strike was brewing towards the end of the month. In Edenderry, county Offaly there was some success in the increase in wages for the Alesbury Timber workers who had been on strikes for some time. And in county Westmeath farmers and stud farm workers sought an increase in their wages. In some areas the strikes and labour demands caused a sensation in local areas. In Charleville, county Cork a three hour demonstration to protest against the dismissal of two workers was led by a man carrying a ‘Red Flag’ which, it was reported, was supported by people coming to their doors and shouting ‘Up the Red Flag’. We will return to the issue of Labour and strikes in another post this month.



    Download Source: See for example, The Watchword of Labour, 26 June 1920, page 4.


    Irish War of Independence - Labour Strikes - June.1920WW_26June_page4

  • Irelands Radical Newspapers - Young Ireland - 05.June.1920

    Irish Radical Newspapers Young Ireland


    The IRA’s military campaign continued unabated in June 1920 and by the end of the month moral amongst the RIC was low.


    The courts system had virtually collapsed and there was growing uncertainty about the long term governance of the country. It was also the month of the County Council Elections where Sinn Fein swept the board nationwide, winning control in all but four county councils. The support for Sinn Fein was helped in no small way by the coverage provided by a host of Republican newspapers, pamphlets and other material. This month we focus on the Radical Irish Newspapers, the latest addition to the Irish Newspaper Archive.

    Throughout Ireland in June 1920 people anxiously waited for the latest edition of a host of radical newspapers including, for example, The Watchword of Labour, The Irish Bulletin and Young Ireland amongst others which carried news from a republic viewpoint of what was happening across Ireland. The publication of these newspapers would probably not have been possible but for the advertising they contained, advertising a host of ‘Irish made’ products, goods and services. The advertisements are interesting on a number of levels, not least because they suggest the businesses and people who openly supported the republican causes despite the pressure and intimidation they would have faced from several quarters for doing so. In June 1920 the Young Ireland newspaper for example carried adverts from M. Ryan of Cork and Cove who embroidered hats with ‘Gaelic mottoes’; Whelan & Son of Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin the ‘progressive Irish firm’ who sold ‘Irish music’, and the Fountain Book Shop on the Grand Parade, Cork who were selling the famous picture of the GPO and Easter 1916. Those like Francis Casey & Sons of the Moy in the County Tyrone did not beat about the bush in asserting where their loyalties lay asking why would you ‘support the foreigner’? Instead, Casey called on them to ‘support home industries and stop emigration’.



    Download Source: Young Ireland, Saturday, June 05, 1920, pages 4, 7, 8


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  • Irish war of Independence - Agitation For Land - 27.May.1920

     Irish War of Independence


    May 1920 ended with a number of crimes and outrages committed as part of ongoing land disputes throughout the country.


    In Ballinrobe county Mayo the first Dail Eireann Land Court had met in May presided over by Arthur O’Connor and Kevin O’Sheil. One of the first cases before them involved nine people from Kilmaine who sought the division of land owned by the Magdalene Asylum in Galway. Every hope was displayed that they could come to an agreement and that it would be done speedily. However, towards the end of the month land disputes in other parts of the country were no so amicable. In county Clare shots were fired into the home of an elderly farmer named Thomas Killeen at Inch, near Ennis. Injuring Killeen, but not seriously, the attack was said to have had its origins in a land dispute. Likewise, at Lisdoonvarna the home of John Kerin was attacked and shots fired which wounded him in the chest and abdomen. These incidents occurred at the time when Brian O’Higgins, a founding member of the Irish Volunteers in 1913 was actively trying to organise republican courts in county Clare. Significantly, O’Higgins claimed that many of the claims for land in the county were ‘frivolous and unjust, and without foundation’ and called on the people to put trust in Dail Eireann to settle all aspects of the land question. Those who continued to send threatening letters and use violent methods would be doing so in opposition to the Dail and would have to forfeit any claim to the land.



    Download Source: Freemans Journal 1763-1924, 27.05.1920, page 5


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  • Irish War of Independence - Sinn Fein in Ulster - 29.May.1920

    Irish War of independence


    While counties such as Cork, Clare and Tipperary were notorious by this stage in the War of Independence, there were other areas which there was intense IRA activity.


    In May 1920 the work of ‘Sinn Fein in Ulster’ was reported in daily newspapers including the attack on the RIC between Crossdoney and Ballinagh in county Cavan. On their way to the fair of Crossdoney Sergeant WG Johnston and Constable Somerset were attacked by twelve armed and masked men In the same week the IRA in Loughbrickland, county Down isolated the village and burned the disused RIC barracks. The RIC barracks at Mayobridge, near Newry which had also been vacant for some time was also burned and completely destroyed. An attempt was also made to burn the barracks in Rostrevor, county Down for the second time but shortly after the blaze had been started the alarm was made by way of whistle and the residents succeeded in bringing the fire under control. On the same night 100 men occupied the village of Castlecaulfield in county Tyrone but the attack was largely repelled owing to the muster of men who were determined to prevent the destruction of the RIC barracks in the village. The attack it seems had been anticipated since the previous week when they arrival of a number of ‘strangers’ in the area suggested that an attack was imminent. As soon as the IRA party had set fire to the barracks they were fired on by a number of sentries who protected each house.


    Download Source: Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, Friday, May 28, 1920, page 7.






  • Irish War of Independence - Five hour Siege - 28.May.1920

    Irish War of Independence

    After a month of outrages perpetrated against individuals and families, the five hour siege to attack RIC barracks throughout the county. When it was over three people were dead;


    Sergeant Thomas Kane and Constable Joseph Morton and of the IRA attacking party, Liam Scully. Over 100 IRA men took part in the attack, one of the largest operations of the conflict and were ably supported in the process by the women of Cummann na MBan. Occurring in the early hours of the morning of the 28 May, continuous rifle fire and exploding grenades filled the air for almost five hours. Calling on the policemen to surrender, the IRA at first showed leniency but once they declined to do so, the battle commenced. Learning from the attack on RIC barracks in other counties, including in county Kilkenny, the IRA took positions in neighbouring houses and used this advantage to throw petrol and paraffin bombs down upon the RIC through the roof. The defenders of the barracks, who numbered ten in total, were praised for their valiant defence of the building which they succeeded in holding despite the best efforts of the IRA. No doubt it revived memories in the village of the attack on the barracks during the 1867 Fenian Rising and from which the police force earned the title ‘Royal’. The official number of RIC in the barracks has often been disputed (some suggested that as many as 28 policemen were present), but nonetheless it was seen as a victory for the police on this occasion.



    Download Source: Irish Examiner 1841-current, 29.05.1920, page 5


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  • Irish War of Independence - Father of 13 Murdered - 27.May.1920

    Irish War of Independence


    In May 1920 agrarian trouble in county Mayo resulted in the brutal murder of herd. The victim, Michael Toole was in the employment of J. Fitzgerald Kenny a justice of the peace and owner of Ballyglass House.


    Prior to this Toole had been warned not to work outside the Kenny demesne but when he failed to heed the notice and began sowing seeds in a field across the road from the demesne he fate was sealed. Returning home at 11pm, accompanied by two men, he was set upon by a masked party. One of the men against whom there was no grudge was ordered to go away, while the other received a beating. Toole was instantly knocked down and battered to death. His skull ‘was opened through the violence of the blows’ and from the nature of the injuries was almost unrecognisable. Alarmed by the failure of her husband Mrs Toole went in search of him and found his body lying on the road. Aged forty-three Toole left behind him a family of thirteen children. He was regarded as an honest and hardworking man but fell foul of the agrarian agitators. The murder was denounced locally and including in the Catholic church at Carnacon. While the implements used in the murder were recovered by the police, little evidence could be obtained as to who had carried out the murder.


    Download Source: Freemans Journal 1763-1924, 30.05.1920, page 5


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  • Irish War of Independence - Threatening Letters - 26.May.1920

    Irish War of Independence

    Throughout May 1920 the outrages and crimes continued. On 22 May Dublin Castle authorities reported that 100 outrages had been committed in Ireland in the previous three days.

    This quantity of crimes highlights the intensity of the IRA campaign, not to mention others who were taking advantage of the times. Two outrages in particular were particularly notable. In county Cork the members of the coroner’s jury who had found a verdict of ‘wilful murder’ against those who had murdered the RIC officers Flynn, Brick and Dunn at Timoleague on 10 May, were threatened as to their actions by the IRA. Each member of the jury was sent typed copies warning them that if they failed to apologise and express sorrow to the ‘Irish Republic’ they would meet with the consequence. This was a serious escalation in the War of Independence whereby anybody seen to have any dealings with British rule in Ireland was deemed to be enemies to the Irish Republic. Elsewhere, in county Louth the threatening notices sent to a Protestant clergyman warning him to ‘prepare for death’ because he was a member of the Irish Unionist Alliance highlighted another phase of the campaign. Prior to this the clergyman’s gates had been daubed with threatening messages. These outrages significantly contributed to the increase in rates which county councils and local authorities were imposing in lieu of compensation claims which were made. In county Cork for example, claims for compensation for the month of May 1920 alone totalled £239,000.


    Download Source: Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, 26.05.1920, page 7


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  • Irish War of Independence - Burning of Moorock House - 25.May.1920

     Irish War of Indepedence - Burning of Moorock House - 25.May.1920

    Towards the end of May 1920 the burning of Moorock House, near Ballycumber in county Offaly signalled the beginning of a phase of the destruction  arson of country houses in Offaly.

    Described as a ‘magnificent three storied mansion’ it belong to a Mr Moylett of Tuam county Galway. Rumours prevailed that the house was to be occupied by the military and so in the intervening period the IRA torched the mansion. All across the country this tactic was soon adopted by the IRA and a number of different reasons and motives were given for the torching of mansions and ‘big houses’. By the end of the Civil War almost 300 country houses were burned. The same motive was also used for the burning of Kilbrittain Castle in county Cork in May 1920. Built on an eminence adjacent to the village of Kilbrittain and commanding views of Courtmacsherry, the castle provided an important strategic location for commanding the local countryside. Once the home of the McCarthy Reaghs and the Stawell family, it was later sold to the Cork firm of Reardon and Doyle, but had been vacant for some time. When it was learned that the military intended to commandeer the castle to be used as a barracks, the IRA decided to burn the castle. The damage done was estimated to have been in the region of £30,000. Prior to the burning of the castle there had been a number of reports of agitation for the division of land and timber had been stolen from the demesne, while other quantities had been dumped into the sea. A smouldering heap, people attended from miles around to see the ruins of this once picturesque castle.

    Download Source: Cork County Eagle, 29 May 1920, page 1. See also Irish Examiner 1841-current, 26.05.1920, page 8


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