Irish Newspaper Archive

  • RIC Ballytrain Barracks Fierce Fighting - 14.February.1920

    RIC BALLYTRAIN barracks 14 fEBRUARY 1920 IRA ATTACK

    RIC Ballytrain Barracks Fierce Fighting - 14.February.1920

    After a month of intense IRA activity across the country, the War of Independence continued unabated in February 1920. Becoming more daring in the process, the IRA continued to target the RIC and their barracks. Elsewhere, local issues and tensions would also surface, and in some cases, they become embroiled in the struggle for Independence. February 1920 would be a month of chaos across the country

    Described by the newspapers of the day as a ‘fierce affray’ the three-hour assault on the RIC barracks at Ballytrain, county Monaghan was a significant engagement for the Monaghan IRA during the War of Independence. Launched at 2 am on a Sunday morning and led by Eoin O’Duffy, later a Commissioner of An Garda Siochana, the attack had been carefully planned.

    Located eight miles from Castleblayney, the RIC barracks in Ballytrain was manned by two sergeants and four constables all of whom it was said fought against the odds for over three hours. When at 5am ‘the leader’ of the IRA party demanded the officers surrender it was met by continued firing from the police. O’Duffy then gave the order to plant explosives at the gable wall, which instantly collapsed. Four RIC officers were buried in the rubble of the building and were later transferred to Carrickmacross hospital for treatment. About fifty men then rushed the building carrying off a quantity of weapons A house belonging to a man named Mitchell was raided before the attack, where four members of the family were held hostage throughout the night. The IRA smashed all of the windows in the house allowing them to fire on the barracks. As many as 150 men took part in the raid, which also saw some men taking up position in cattle byres, which had been cleaned out in order to give protection. It was later alleged that O’Duffy had told the RIC men that he was glad no one had been killed in the exchange- ‘We did not come here to do injury, but only for arms’. It was hardly the welcome Sergeant Graham had expected having only arrived in the barracks three days before.

    Download Source:  Ulster Herald, 21 February 1920, page 2. + Sligo Champion 21.February.1920

    Ulster Herald 1901-current Saturday February 21 1920                                                 Sligo Champion 1879-current Saturday February 21 1920 Page 6                                               Ulster Herald 1901-current, Saturday, February 21, 1920 pg 2

    Sligo Champion 1879-current, Saturday, February 21, 1920

  • Drumcondra Train Attack - 13 February 1920

    Drumcondra Train Attack 14 February 1920

    The attack on a train at Drumcondra on 13 February 1920 highlighted both how daring and orgainsed IRA units had become. At 8.45pm a military train, with 47 wagons left the North Wall Railway Station bound for Athlone barracks in county Westmeath. The IRA, having received intelligence about the contents on-board the train lay in wait and looked to seize the arms, most of which were miniature rifles, which would have been ideal weapons for the guerrilla campaign, which was being waged. Taking no chances and indicating that they would be ruthless in their approach, at Newcomen Bridge the signalman Michael Geraghty was shot in his cabin as the train passed through. Another signalman, William Dunne was held up between Jones Road and Drumcondra station. About twenty IRA men took up a position at Gilford Place, while a similar number remained in the street with two motor cars. Neither car had lights or numbers and the attack was carried out under the cover of darkness. The military later confirmed that they could not see their attackers. When the train came to a halt at Drumcondra three bombs were thrown at the carriages followed by a number of revolver shots. Among the military, Lance Corporal Markely was injured from shrapnel caused by the explosion and was later taken to hospital. Two masked raiders climbed on to the train and gave orders for it to be backed up. It was unclear how many weapons, if any, had been taken by the IRA during the attack.

    Download Irish Examiner 1841-current, Monday, February 16, 1920

     Cork Examiner 16 February 1920 drumcondra train attack

  • The disgraceful nature of terrorism - Belfast Newsletter 12.February.1920

    Belfast Newsletter

     ‘the disgraceful nature of terrorism’

    The Belfast Newsletter reported in February 1920 that lawlessness in the south of Ireland was getting out of hand and that everyday life in many counties was disturbed. The Kerry Milk case in that month reflected such sentiments or as the newspaper claimed, ‘the disgraceful nature of terrorism’. The issue was linked to the two attempts which were made on the life of Sergeant AM Sullivan in Kerry in January 1920. Sullivan, it appears, was the legal representative of Messrs Slattery and thus the business was targeted.

    In the early morning, as the Ballmacelligot creamery opened for business, armed and disguised men lined up on the road opposite the creamery. Remarkably, the local RIC ‘hut’ at Gortalea was less than a quarter of a mile away but the men were not prohibited in any way. The armed men then proceeded to block all of the carts which were bringing milk to the creamery and ordered that they desist from doing so or in having any dealings with Slatterys. Entering the building the men forced workers to extinguish fires as a result of the incident a number of Farmers Vigilance Committees were formed in the North Kerry area. The boycott on Slattery’s presented a considerable strain on the local economy. A thriving business on which many local farmers depended; the incident may also have been part of a long-standing feud amongst a number of creameries in the locality.  Indeed, in 1919 trouble at the Ballymacelligot creameries was debated in the House of Commons.

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    Source Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, Thursday, February 12, 1920

    Belfast Newsletter Thursday February 12 1920

  • Allihies Barracks Raid - Constable Neenan Shot - 12.February.1920

    Aillihies Barracks Raid Michael Neenan Shot

    Allihies Barracks Raid - Constable Neenan Shot 12.February.1920

    County Cork was the scene of another attack on an RIC barracks at the village of Allihies, which led to the death of Constable Michael Neenan. Located twelve miles from Castletownbere, the people of Allihies were taken by surprise when the IRA attacked the barrack on 12 February.

    Once again, every preparation was made to deny any chance of reinforcements arriving to help the stricken policemen. Between 3-4am the IRA began to drill into the gable wall of the barracks which was then blown up. Realising what was happening the RIC immediately defended their position and both parties then exchanged several rounds of fire. During the ‘fusilade’ Constable Neenan volunteered to go to the ammunition store for rifles but was shot in the abdomen and despite the best effort of surgeons who motored from Cork to try and save him, he succumbed to his injuries. Another RIC Constable, named O’Driscoll was shot in the foot during the affray, but his injuries were said to have been non-life threatening. Led by Sean Hales, the IRA battalion was said to have consisted of about twenty volunteers and maintained their position until shortly after 5am before retreating. The RIC refused to surrender but, after this attack, they destroyed the building and withdrew from village. A number of out outlying posts would also do the same in the coming weeks.

    Download Source: Irish Independent 1905-current, Friday, February 13, 1920

    Irish Independent Friday February 13 1920

  • Séamus, shot dead by the RIC in 1920,

     IRA volunteer Seamus O’Brien Shot Rathdrum Wicklow

    After a month of intense IRA activity across the country, the War of Independence continued unabated in February 1920. Becoming more daring in the process, the IRA continued to target the RIC and their barracks. Elsewhere, local issues and tensions would also surface, and in some cases they become embroiled in the struggle for Independence. February 1920 would be a month of chaos across the country

    The Wicklow village of Rathdrum, the home of the famed Charles Stewart Parnell of Avondale, was shocked by the death of IRA volunteer James (or Seamus) O’Brien in early February 1920. Although reported initially as an encounter between civilians and policemen, the deceased was a prominent member of the local IRA.  During a patrol of the village the RIC came under fire from local volunteers and during the exchange one of them, a Constable Mulligan, received slight injuries. Returning fire, perhaps as many three revolvers, the RIC managed to wound O’Brien, who later died of his injuries. It was later claimed that when O’Brien fell he cried out ‘Save me, oh save me’. Trying desperately to save his life, O’Brien was dragged to the house of a man called Leeson and the medical attention was called. However, O’Brien was pronounced dead before a doctor arrived on the scene.  The funeral of O’Brien at Oulart, county Wexford was a huge public display of support for him and his comrades. The funeral cortege was said to have been two miles long and 500 young men, many of them members of the IRA, marched behind the coffin which was draped in the tricolour. The deceased wore his volunteer uniform and cap. Interned in Frongoch prison camp in Wales following the roundup of Republicans in 1916, O’Brien was seen as a pivotal member of the local volunteer movement in Wicklow and is still remembered today. Speaking recently, amid the controversy about the commemoration of the RIC, Wicklow Sinn Féin TD John Brady stated that ‘it was RIC officers that carried out the summary execution of Séamus O’Brien on 11 February 1920’.

    Download Source: Irish Independent, 13 February 1920, page 6. & Evening Echo, 17 February 1920, page 1

    Irish Independent 13 Feb 1920 reduced                                            Evening Echo 17 February 1920 Reduced

     

  • Castlemartyr RIC Barracks Raid - 09.February.1920

    Castlemartyr Barracks attack 09 February 1920

    After a month of intense IRA activity across the country, the War of Independence continued unabated in February 1920. Becoming more daring in the process, the IRA continued to target the RIC and their barracks. Elsewhere, local issues and tensions would also surface, and in some cases they become embroiled in the struggle for Independence. February 1920 would be a month of chaos across the country.

    The ‘latest chapter’, according to the Cork Examiner newspaper, of raids on RIC barracks was carried out at Castlemartyr, county Cork. The village selected for the raid was also ‘of the usual type, that being of about 500 inhabitants, but was according to the report ‘no sleepy hollow’.

    However, the attack in Castlemartyr was the best arranged and most efficiently carried out attack at the point of revolvers. In the early evening, the arrival of large bodies of men was seen as suspicious and just after 9pm quietness fell over the village. Then following a whistle, about twenty men approached the barracks, with one claim that they sang a song in doing so. About thirty to forty waited outside while another detailed party, numbering about twenty men patrolled the roads elsewhere. In total, almost 100 men were involved in the attack. Entering the barracks, the armed men remained there for over ten minutes. There were eight RIC men present in the barracks but it was known locally that some were off duty or had returned home briefly. Two RIC men Sergeant O’Brien and Constable Collins were returning from the fair at Midleton and were apprehended and tied up during the duration of the attack, while a cloak was also placed over their heads to prevent them from identifying their attackers. Two workmen who arrived at the scene were also arrested. Two constables who had left the barracks to return home were also accosted in a very carefully planned attack. One of the police men in the barrack refused to surrender but he was soon persuaded to do so. When they remerged there was loud cheering as the raiders took with them carbines, bayonets, revolvers and ammunition and the Castlemartyr attack proved to be a resounding success for the local IRA.

    Download Cork Examiner, 9 February 1920, page 5. See also Cork Examiner, 11 February 1920, page 3 (for a picture of the barracks).

    Cork Examiner 09 Feb 1920                                                               Cork Examiner 11 February 1920 castlemartyr Raid

     

     

  • REVOLVER RULE EX - CONNAUGHT RANGER ATTACKED - 04.February.1920

    REVOLVER RULE EX SOLDIER ATTACKED

    After a month of intense IRA activity across the country, the War of Independence continued unabated in February 1920. Becoming more daring in the process, the IRA continued to target the RIC and their barracks. Elsewhere, local issues and tensions would also surface, and in some cases they become embroiled in the struggle for Independence. February 1920 would be a month of chaos across the country.

    REVOLVER RULE - EX - CONNAUGHT RANGER ATTACKED

    In early February 1920 an attack on a former soldier at Spiddal, county Galway indicated the changing attitudes towards former members of the British army. No motive was given for the attack other than that Thornton had been in the British Army and had recently returned to live in the area. Having enlisted in the First World War with the Connaught Rangers, Thornton was wounded at Neuve Chapelle in November 1915. His return to the area at Christmas 1919 was not popular and by early February tensions flared. Having socialised in Watters Public House with his brother on the evening in question, Thornton left shortly after 10 pm and was soon accosted by upwards of twelve men. Having suffered a beating, Thornton was shot in the hip. The location where the attack took place was said to have the place where nine fishermen were blown up by a mine in June 1917. Lying dangerously ill and treated by Dr. Loftus of Spiddal, Thornton was brought first to the workhouse in Galway and later transferred to the county infirmary for an operation to remove the bullet. When he gave evidence, Thornton claimed that a man called Peter O’Malley, a teacher had fired the shot with a revolver while four others were also identified as having taken part in the attack- Pat Feeney, Brian Feeney, William Feeney, and John Folan. Thornton later died of his injuries on 12 February.

    Download Source: Connacht Tribune 1909-current, Saturday, February 07, 1920 pg 5

    Download Irish Archives

  • Dr Lambert Parkwood House Bombed - 03.February.1920

    Cork Examiner 07.February.1920  Bomb attack

    Dr Lambert House Bomb Attack

    After a month of intense IRA activity across the country, the War of Independence continued unabated in February 1920. Becoming more daring in the process, the IRA continued to target the RIC and their barracks. Elsewhere, local issues and tensions would also surface, and in some cases they become embroiled in the struggle for Independence. February 1920 would be a month of chaos across the country.

    On Tuesday, 2nd of February 1920 the house of Dr. Lambert, Parkswood, was attacked with a number of bombs placed against the front of the house which exploded.

    The explosions were said to have caused widespread panic in the locality. Luckily, the residents escaped harm but the front windows of the house were shattered. It was claimed that robbery was the motive of the attackers, although it was unclear if the IRA were responsible. A number of sporting guns were present in the house, which was located in an isolated part of the county, about a quarter of a mile from Passage East. Lambert was the only member of the family present on this occasion, while an aged housekeeper was said to have been severely shocked by the attack. Some sources regarded simply as an act of ‘wanton blackguardism’. The Lambert’s had been resident at Parkswood for many years and indeed as far back as 1851 members of the family had assisted people in emigrating to America during the Great Famine. While the attack on Lambert’s house shocked the county it was quickly overshadowed by the attack on the RIC barracks at Ardmore, county Waterford later that month. Here the IRA broke into Foley’s public house opposite the barracks and began their long ‘fusilade’. Mr & Mrs Foley were said to have been terrified by the ambush which lasted over two hours but it was reported that the IRA had not touched anything in the public house during their stay. 

    Download Source:  Irish Examiner, February 07, 1920; Page: 8

    Irish Examiner 1841-current Saturday February 07 1920 page 1

    Irish Examiner 1841-current, Saturday, February 07, 1920

  • RIC Police Patrol Attacked & Aghern Barracks Targeted - 01.February.1920

    Aghern Barracks Attacked

    After a month of intense IRA activity across the country, the War of Independence continued unabated in February 1920. Becoming more daring in the process, the IRA continued to target the RIC and their barracks. Elsewhere, local issues and tensions would also surface, and in some cases they become embroiled in the struggle for Independence. February 1920 would be a month of chaos across the country.

    On 1 February 1920 the Belfast Newsletter newspaper reported that a ‘disgraceful outrage’ had taken place at the village of Aghern (Ahern), county Cork on the previous evening.

    Located some twenty miles from Cork the attack on a RIC police patrol was just one of many, which would occur during the early months of 1920 but the manner of the attack shocked many. On the previous evening while on patrol outside the village Sergeant Bradly, Constable Blanchfield and Constable Nagle were surrounded by upwards of thirty men who were armed and wearing disguises. After initially resisting capture, the three RIC men were overpowered and tied with ropes. The IRA then proceeded to take their weapons, ammunition and other items before leaving them bound together on the roadside. The police were said to have lay on the road in agony for more than three hours before the IRA returned and untied the men. They were warned not to follow them or make any attempt to arrest them. The police eventually crawled back to the barracks but it was a number of hours before the military arrived from Cork and a search of the countryside commenced. Buoyed by their success, just over two weeks later, on 16 February, the IRA mounted an attack on Aghern RIC barracks which was manned by the aforementioned policemen and their colleague's Constables Minogue, Mockler, O’Dea, and Dowling. For over an hour and a quarter, a ‘pretty lively fusillade’ of firing was kept up by both sides. One of the IRA men named Condon was injured in the attack and captured by the police. Condon was brought inside the barracks and a Red Cross ambulance from Fermoy was called. On the following day, he was brought to Cork and charged.

    Download Source Belfast Newsletter 01.February.1920 & Cork Examiner 17.February.1920

    belfast newsletter front page                                              Cork Examiner front page

  • Sensational attack on Sergeant AM Sullivan K.C - 27.January.1920

    Sergeant AM Sullivan K.C second attack

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

    Sergeant AM Sullivan K.C. Train Attacked 

    On the 9 January 1920 a sensational attack occurred on Sergeant AM Sullivan K.C., one of the most distinguished people in county Kerry. The attack shocked the people of Tralee and further afield and was soon followed by the rounding up of a number of men who were suspected of involvement in the attack.

    Although it was claimed that those responsible for the attack had been driven out of the locality they staged attack either to injure Sullivan or the rescue prisoners. Travelling on the Cork- Tralee train on 27 January Sullivan survived another attack when shots were fired at his carriage as it passed from Millstreet to Rathmore. Sullivan was on his way to give evidence in court in relation to the previous attack earlier that month. He was not injured but a detective accompanying him was injured by broken glass. It was not clear whether Sullivan was again targeted or whether the real objective was to rescue the eleven prisoners, against whom he would give evidence who were also onboard the train. Undeterred by the attack Sullivan would later give evidence that two men in particular, Leen and Sullivan, had been present at the 9 January attack. In these troubled times, it was with some degree of irony that some newspapers reported on the fact that Sullivan, a barrister, was the grandson of the man who had penned the famous Irish nationalist ballad ‘God Save Ireland’, while he himself had defended Roger Casement at his trial in 1916. Known as the ‘Last Sergeant’, Sullivan retired from the legal profession in 1949. He died in 1959.

    Download Source: Irish Independent, 28 January 1920, page 5

    Sergeant AM Sullivian Attacked Irish War of Independence

    Irish Independent 1905-current, Wednesday, January 28, 1920

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