Irish Newspaper Archive

  • Irish War of Independence - Holycross Murder - 17.July.1920

    Irish war of independence


    After almost eighteen months of conflict, the Irish War of Independence showed no sign of abating in July 1920. This would be another month of murder and mayhem, and in terms of engagement with the police and military the IRA inflicted almost a dozen deaths during July alone. The military naturally struck back and a month of raids and destruction followed with the civilian population bearing the brunt of most of the violence and intimidation.

    The sinister turn in tactics by both sides during the War of Independence was exemplified in the murder of Richard Lumley in Holycross, county Tipperary who was shot coming form a wake on the morning of July 4th. In the aftermath of the murder the military claimed that Lumley had been shot during a failed attempt to the burn the RIC barracks in Holycross, but this assertion was proved to be false at the subsequent inquest to his death. The verdict of the inquest was that:

    We find that Richard Lumley was willfully murdered by members of the Police and Military Force. We express our greatest horror and indignation at the dastardly outrage, also at the conduct of the police and military in firing into a house, without any provocation, where a respectable woman was being waked.


    The inquest also attacked Dublin Castle officials for the initial reports which suggested that Lumley had been killed in the midst of carrying out a raid or causing damage to the barracks. As late as March 1921 the murder of Lumley was raised in the House of Commons by a Mr Mills. Sir Hamar Greenwood claimed that the murder had been committed by unnamed members of the military meaning that it was unlikely that anyone would ever be brought to justice. In 2020, plans are in place in Tipperary to commemorate the murder of Lumley.


    Source: Irish Bulletin, 17 July 1920, page 3.



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  • Irish War of Independence - Industrial Unrest - 19.June.1920


    The continued industrial unrest in Ireland was carried by the newspaper, The Watchword of Labour, who in June 1920 reported on a host of disputes across the country.


    Agitating for better pay and working conditions, disputes included workers from a number of professions. In county Kildare stable workers at the Curragh demanded an increase in pay, as did the shop girls in Newbridge town. At the Kynoch factory in Arklow town the workers were again looking for an increase in wages, having been refused on a number of occasions. A host of Dublin workers, including those in the Gas Works also sought the same. It also included the cleaning women in the Freeman’s Journal offices. Amongst the most successful demands were achieved in New Ross, county Wexford where under the charge of the union organiser, O’Donaghue, a host of workers succeeded in getting wage increases. O’Donaghue, the newspaper commented, was ‘battering the gateways of Ross’, invoking the fighting spirit of the county in 1798. In other areas of the country, such as in Ennis, county Clare the demands were for the reduction in the working week; the grocers assistants in particular who then worked in excess of 47 hours a week.


    Source: The Watchword of Labour 1919-1920, 19.06.1920, page 4




  • Irish War of Independence - Irish Language Revival - 24.June.1920

    Irish war of Independence


    The targeting of the Irish language was an obvious tactic adopted by the British military as the War of Independence continued.


    Seeking to disrupt efforts to promote the Irish language, the military intervened to prevent a host of activities. In June 1920 the Irish Bulletin newspaper compiled a list of just some of the attempts to prevent the teaching and spread of Irish. They included preventing the hosting of Irish language festivals in Bantry and Ballinspittle in county Cork for example; raids on the O’Curry Language school in Carrigaholt, county Clare and the suppressing of the newspaper, Fainne an Lae, the official organ of the Irish Language Revival. In other instances people collecting and involved in the Gaelic League were arrested and targeted. Homes were raided and where papers found in the Irish language discovered, they were ceased. In Skibbereen, county Cork a school with thirty girls learning Irish was dispersed and the girls forcibly removed. These were subtle attempts to prevent the spread of the language and support for other nationalist organisations. It had the opposite effect and in many cases actually swelled the numbers joining the republican cause.


    Source: Irish Bulletin 1918-1921, Thursday, June 24, 1920; Page: 2






  • Irish War of Independence - Cappoquin Fatality - June.1920

     Irish War of independence

    Many communities across the country will be actively preparing for the centenary commemorations of events, which happened during the War of Independence.


    During this commemorative phase, long ago battles, raids and skirmishes will be recalled. Plaques and information signs erected telling the stories from 100 years ago, many of which we have featured on the blog since last October. However, commemoration is selective and many events will undoubtedly go unrecorded. Ones wonders how many stories such as the death of young Michael Walsh, aged 13 ½ years old, at Cappoquin, county Waterford will go untold. A native of Lismore and son of a hairdresser, Walsh was in Cappoquin as the local elections results were celebrated. A large crowd had gathered and tar barrels were lit before a military lorry drove at the crowd, killing Walsh in the process. According to newspaper accounts the young boy ‘was afforded a magnificent funeral’ and the volunteers of Lismore, Ballyduff, Modellys, Cappoquin and the surrounding districts attended. The jury at the inquest recommended that the boys parents should seek compensation from the military as the act appeared to have been deliberate. It was a sad occasion for all in Waterford and worth remembering that many innocent lives were lost during the conflict.


    Source:  See also Irish Examiner 1841-current, Monday, June 07, 1920; Page: 8; see also The Freemans Journal 1763-1924, Thursday, June 10, 1920; Page: 4





  • Irish War of Independence - Incendiary Action - 30.June.1920


    As the month of June wore on the British military resorted to targeting a number of types of premises connected to the Republican movement including newspaper offices and printing shops.


    These included the offices of the Munster News, a Limerick based nationalist newspaper which was set on fire in the middle of the night. The editorial and commercial departments were entirely destroyed, while Miss Connellan, the sister of the proprietors and the only occupant of the premises was rescued after having her two arms fractured. They also done the same in Newcastle West in county Limerick where they wrecked the offices of the weekly Observer newspaper, which was Republican in tone. The military and police first visited the house of the newspapers editor, Dr Brouder, demanding that he be handed over to be shot. Learning that he was not at home they set fire to the house and then proceeded to the newspaper offices where they did the same, this time using incendiary bombs. Damage of over £3,000 was done. Perhaps the Irish Newspaper Archive collection would have been larger but for the actions of the ‘Black and Tans’ in Limerick in June 1920!


    Source: Irish Bulletin, 30th June 1920, page 1/2


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  • Irish war of Independence - Violent Reprisals - 29.June.1920

    Irish War of Independence

    June 1920 ends with violent reprisals from the British military all across Ireland.


    Once again the radical newspaper, Irish Bulletin, provides an account of raids and assaults which occurred throughout Ireland in the final week of June. In Limerick city the military fired a number of shots into business and residences after midnight in a night of terror across the country. At Kilcommon, county Tipperary the homes of prominent republicans were ‘attacked’ and women and children present were severely harassed. In the same county, at Ballynonty, the military were said to have ‘shot up’ the village. At a place called Katesbridge in county Down young men returning from a sports day were fired on by a machine gun during a search on the road by the military. In Shillelagh, county Wicklow it was claimed that the fever hospital was taken over the military, denying it to the local community as a means of providing medical care for local people. The same was reported to have occurred in Kenmare, county Kerry where a detachment of the East Lancashire Regiment took over the building. These were all means of controlling the people and the countryside.


    Source: The Irish Bulletin 1918-1921, Tuesday, June 29, 1920, page 3


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  • Irish War of Independence - Poets and Writers - 19.June.1920

     irish war of independence

    One of the features of Irish radical newspapers was the platform they provided for poets and writers.


    Harking back to episodes of Irish history or lamenting the present, poetry were used to instil pride, belief and hope for Ireland. Of course many of these poems and prose were nationalist in nature and reflected the interests of the newspaper in which they were published. Many were local scribes, but the newspapers also published the works of those like Thomas McDonagh who had been executed for his role in the 1916 rising. Some like The Watchword of Labour published international poetry including from India, which reflected their own ideals. In June 1920 The Irish Statesman also published the work of Jack B. Yeats, the brother of the Nobel prize winner, William. His poem, ‘Tardy Spring’, was not political in nature but an interesting inclusion nonetheless. Was it published elsewhere or in a collection of poetry? The poem in full can be found in the Irish Statesman, 19 June 1920, which is available on the Radical Newspapers section of the Irish Newspaper Archive. The poem opened with the following lines:

    ‘Sleepy head, sleepy head, awake and begone

    From under the leaves of dead yesterday,

    The leaves snug and warms where you lay –

    Stop from complaining, and put away moan,

    cast away sleep and dry up your tears,

    and weave, weave,

    the green mantle that great summer wears.



    Source: The Irish Statesman, 19 June 1920, page 7.


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  • Irish War of Independence - Shemus Cartoons - June.1920


    Cartoons were not a new feature of the Irish newspaper business one hundred years ago but certainly was transformed by the arrival of Ernest Forbes, to the staff of the Freeman’s Journal in 1920.


    Using the pseudonym ‘Shemus’, he was the first regular cartoonist on an Irish daily newspaper and his cartoons during the during the War of Independence and Civil War were widely published and distributed. Cartoons in the radical newspapers contained in the Irish Newspaper Archive at this time also highlight the varying forms of propaganda, which were at play during the Irish War of Independence. Cartoons and depictions of what was happening in Ireland were highly effective and accompanied by accounts of actual events, were an important part of republican propaganda. Newspapers such as Old Ireland and The Sinn Feiner were just two of those who used cartoons regularly in their editions. Many of the cartoons in The Sinn Feiner newspaper 100 years ago related to thise which were used in the trial of Jerimiah O’Leary for sedition and were reproduced courtesy of ‘Bull’. In today’s blog post we hope you enjoy a selection of these which first started to appear in number from June 1920 onwards.



    Source: Old Ireland, 19 June 1920, page 310; Old Ireland, 26 June 1920, page 324; see The Sinn Feiner, 21 August 1920, page 5; The Sinn Feiner 1920-1921, Saturday, June 26, 1920







  • Irish War of independence - The ‘sack of Fermoy’ - 29.June.1920


    The daring capture of Brigadier General Lucas in Fermoy county Cork during late June 1920 was captured in the pages of the Irish Bulletin.


    Described by the newspaper as the ‘Commanding Officer of the British Army of Occupation’ in the Fermoy area, the military carried out a frenzied search for him using armoured cars and even aeroplanes as large parts of Munster were scoured for evidence. It was estimated that the number of houses which were searched as a result amounted to more than 1,000. The military responded by sacking the town of Fermoy. Leaving their barrack just after midnight, over 500 soldiers proceeded to wreck the town. Over 70 business premises and homes were forcibly entered and whiskey stores consumed. The drunken soldiers then roamed the town firing shorts in the air and into dwelling houses. Many, claimed the Irish Bulletin, were seriously injured, while women and children were ‘terror stricken’. Over £40,000 worth of damage was done. On the same night soldiers in Lismore, county Waterford went on a similar rampage throughout the town, and likewise in Newcastle West, county Limerick. Lucas was released after a number of weeks. Recently letters written by him to his wife have been made publically available suggesting that he was on good terms with his captors.



    Source: The Irish Bulletin 1918-1921, Tuesday, June 29, 1920, page 1

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