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Irish War of Independence centenary

14 January 1921

RIC Sergeant Thomas Kemp was fatally injured by a bomb thrown as he was walking on Market Street, Armagh. Kemp died of his wounds on 23rd January. A civilian named Francis Campbell was also wounded, but survived.

William McGrath, KC, Counsel for Dublin Corporation, was shot dead by the IRA at his home at 129 Altona Terrace, North Circular road, Dublin. McGrath, originally from Co. Down, was on Collins’s list of British agents.
Any back story on McGrath, Gary? I had never heard of this incident, perhaps it got lost in all the other events of the time, but at an earlier stage of the period the killing of a leading barrister would have received a lot of attention. A Catholic lawyer working for the local council doesn't come across as an obvious target.
 
13 January 1921

Near Crossmaglen, Co. Armagh a group of five Special Constables escorting the local postman, Patrick Kirk, were ambushed by the IRA. Kirk was delivering the old age pension on his rounds. The postman and one Special Constable were wounded with Kirk dying later in Dundalk Infirmary.

The wounded Kirk had been abandoned by his escort and a follow up patrol of Specials sent to retrieve the body, dead or alive, were also ambushed. Special Constable Robert Compston was hit and died at the scene. He was the first member of the Special Constabulary to lose his life in the line of duty. Compston is buried in Lisnadill Churchyard.
I'd wondered why the IRA had left Patrick Kirk unattended, but remained at the site of the ambush. It seems to be another story with more to it. They may have left the ambush site immediately, leaving Kirk lying injured. Special Constable Compston was killed by an ND by some one of the USC follow up patrol.

 
15 January 1921

Gerald Pring, an excise officer from Cork, was shot dead as he made his way home from work at about 9 pm. The shot appears to have been fired from a passing police patrol although an enquiry failed to find anyone responsible.

A second attack on Kilbrittain RIC Barracks in Co. Cork came to nothing as the IED failed to explode.

An extended search by the army in the Church St/Capel St area of Dublin from the 15th to 17th resulted in no significant arrests or arms finds.

Collins and de Valera were still trading memos on the Northern Elections. Collins plan was to get Fermanagh, Tyrone and Derry give allegiance to the Dáil with a view to making partition unworkable.

The Irish Independent reported that the previous day in Ballina, Co. Mayo, five prominent businessmen were paraded through the streets carrying the Union Jack with one trailing a Tricolour on the ground. Before they were released they had to kneel and kiss the Union flag while the Tricolour was burned. Two days later the Irish Independent carried a report that the merchants were not arrested but “were merely asked to come to the auxiliary headquarters, and that when desired to carry the Union Jacks through the town they did not object”. The Auxiliaries, putting the Heart into Hearts and Minds.
 
Any back story on McGrath, Gary? I had never heard of this incident, perhaps it got lost in all the other events of the time, but at an earlier stage of the period the killing of a leading barrister would have received a lot of attention. A Catholic lawyer working for the local council doesn't come across as an obvious target.
McGrath turned up in The Dead of the Irish Revolution. His family thought that he might have been shot by ex servicemen to whom he had refused unemployment assistance in his capacity as Chairman of the Court of Referees. This theory is confused by his name turning up on an IRA target list. Although it was quite possible that the IRA men shot him were the same ex-servicemen looking for unemployment assistance. A Google search turns up newspaper reports at the time that McGrath hadn't been involved in politics since the Home Rule campaign of 1914 and that the killing was due to a grudge.
 

Cabbage_man

Clanker
I'd wondered why the IRA had left Patrick Kirk unattended, but remained at the site of the ambush. It seems to be another story with more to it. They may have left the ambush site immediately, leaving Kirk lying injured. Special Constable Compston was killed by an ND by some one of the USC follow up patrol.

John McCoy (vice OC of the 4th Northern Division) who participated in this ambush sets out his recall - many years later at page 86 of his witness statement (see link below). Seems like Kirk may have been killed in error.

This statement is worth a read for those interested in the Northern IRA campaign.

The 4th seemed to fight everyone at some point between 1919 - 1923, with their divisional area spread across the future border.

There is some interesting insight into the challenges they had throughout this period. a campaign against HM forces, whilst trying to limit sectarian tensions in their operational area, which other units in the south perhaps did not need to concern themselves with to the same extent.

Also see page 155 of his statement - which I posted some years ago on the 1916 thread - which was written almost 20 years ahead of the later ‘troubles’. Prophetic our perhaps just a clear understanding of the forces at work in the province.

I also note he sought and was offered a commission at the outbreak of WWI - a further illustration perhaps of the complexity’s of this period, and those who participated in it.

 
John McCoy (vice OC of the 4th Northern Division) who participated in this ambush sets out his recall - many years later at page 86 of his witness statement (see link below). Seems like Kirk may have been killed in error.

This statement is worth a read for those interested in the Northern IRA campaign.

The 4th seemed to fight everyone at some point between 1919 - 1923, with their divisional area spread across the future border.

There is some interesting insight into the challenges they had throughout this period. a campaign against HM forces, whilst trying to limit sectarian tensions in their operational area, which other units in the south perhaps did not need to concern themselves with to the same extent.

Also see page 155 of his statement - which I posted some years ago on the 1916 thread - which was written almost 20 years ahead of the later ‘troubles’. Prophetic our perhaps just a clear understanding of the forces at work in the province.

I also note he sought and was offered a commission at the outbreak of WWI - a further illustration perhaps of the complexity’s of this period, and those who participated in it.

Hmmm. Page 15 he states that he applied for a commission in the British Army and the war office wrote back saying that he had been granted a commission in the Lancashire and Yorkshire Light Infantry. It seems like he didn't have much of a clue about English history then.
 
Hmmm. Page 15 he states that he applied for a commission in the British Army and the war office wrote back saying that he had been granted a commission in the Lancashire and Yorkshire Light Infantry. It seems like he didn't have much of a clue about English history then.
There was a York and Lancaster Regiment until 1968; he probably meant that.
 
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16 January 1921

Patrick O’Donovan was found dead in a field about 8 am. The previous evening, during an army search near Timoleague, Co. Cork, sentries had fired at a man who failed to halt when challenged. O’Donovan was 21 years old and a member of the IRA.

DI Archibald Richmond killed himself in New Ross, Co. Wexford. Richmond was a Londoner who had joined the RIC in 1902, was commissioned in the Royal Irish Rifles in 1915 and served in Gallipoli and France. He left the army with the rank of Major and returned to the RIC as a District Inspector.
 
17 January 1921

Constable Robert Boyd, aged 24, was shot dead inMoran's public house in Cappawhite, Co. Tipperary. Boyd, from Banbridge, Co. Down was an ex-Royal Irish Fusilier with 10 months service. He was chatting to two women while having a drink when he was shot in the head. One of the women was wounded in the leg.

Patrick Sloan and Joseph Tormey, from Moate, Co. Westmeath, who were internees in Ballykinlar Camp, were shot by a sentry called Murfitt of the KRRC. Murfitt claimed the two men were signalling someone outside the wire when he shot them. Edited to add Tormey's brother will be making an appearance here in the next couple of weeks.

De Valera had a meeting with Dr MacRory, RC Bishop of Down and Connor, to discuss the situation in the north. The bishop thought that the Nationalist parties would stand down in favour of Sinn Féin in the forthcoming elections.
 
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McGrath turned up in The Dead of the Irish Revolution. His family thought that he might have been shot by ex servicemen to whom he had refused unemployment assistance in his capacity as Chairman of the Court of Referees. This theory is confused by his name turning up on an IRA target list. Although it was quite possible that the IRA men shot him were the same ex-servicemen looking for unemployment assistance. A Google search turns up newspaper reports at the time that McGrath hadn't been involved in politics since the Home Rule campaign of 1914 and that the killing was due to a grudge.
I got a New York Times report that described the killing as having a "personal motivation". Perhaps his death simply fits into one of those opportunistic crimes that occur in a time when law and order is breaking down. The target list on which his name turns up, where did that come from? Any other interesting names on it?
 
I got a New York Times report that described the killing as having a "personal motivation". Perhaps his death simply fits into one of those opportunistic crimes that occur in a time when law and order is breaking down. The target list on which his name turns up, where did that come from? Any other interesting names on it?
The Dead of the Irish Revolution just says McGrath's name appears on a list headed Casualties British Agents and British Casualties in the Michael Collins Papers. I assume these are the Collins Papers held in Military Archives which should be available online, probably this file;

IE/MA/CP/05/01 - 28 "Intelligence" Files. ‘Lists of members of British forces, enemy Agents, Civil Servants, etc.'


Sorry I don't have time to do more research, we're getting hammered at work due to this Covid bollocks, and there aren't enough hours in the day.
 
18 January 1921

An eleven man Auxiliary patrol from Galway was ambushed at Kilroe. Despite ten of the patrol sustaining injuries, they managed to fight off their attackers. DI T. Simmonds was awarded the Constabulary Medal for Gallantry to go with the DSO, MC and DCM he had earned during the war. One IRA man was wounded during the ambush but survived.


A young farmer named Thomas Collins was subsequently taken from his home and shot while trying to escape. He doesn’t appear to have been in the ambush party.

Members of the Dublin Brigade attacked a lorry carrying Crown Forces in Harold’s Cross. There were no apparent casualties.

The 3rd (West) Cork Brigade Flying Column (Barry’s Mob), demobilised since 21st December, re-assembled at Rossmore.

De Valera sent Collins long letter asking him to go to the US to carry out a number of tasks, the most important of which was to leave the country so Dev could win the war. The proposal was backed by Cathal Brugha and Austin Stack, but came to nothing.
 
18 January 1921

An eleven man Auxiliary patrol from Galway was ambushed at Kilroe. Despite ten of the patrol sustaining injuries, they managed to fight off their attackers. DI T. Simmonds was awarded the Constabulary Medal for Gallantry to go with the DSO, MC and DCM he had earned during the war. One IRA man was wounded during the ambush but survived.


A young farmer named Thomas Collins was subsequently taken from his home and shot while trying to escape. He doesn’t appear to have been in the ambush party.

Members of the Dublin Brigade attacked a lorry carrying Crown Forces in Harold’s Cross. There were no apparent casualties.

The 3rd (West) Cork Brigade Flying Column (Barry’s Mob), demobilised since 21st December, re-assembled at Rossmore.

De Valera sent Collins long letter asking him to go to the US to carry out a number of tasks, the most important of which was to leave the country so Dev could win the war. The proposal was backed by Cathal Brugha and Austin Stack, but came to nothing.
A bit less controversial than telling the big man to go to Loughgall and mount an attack.
 
The 3rd (West) Cork Brigade Flying Column (Barry’s Mob), demobilised since 21st December, re-assembled at Rossmore.
I take it that they had been on Christmas and New Years leave?
De Valera sent Collins long letter asking him to go to the US to carry out a number of tasks, the most important of which was to leave the country so Dev could win the war. The proposal was backed by Cathal Brugha and Austin Stack, but came to nothing.
That would have been pretty much a disaster leaving Dev in charge. I wonder why Cathal Brugha backed it. Was Dev trying to stitch Collins up from the beginning?
 
That would have been pretty much a disaster leaving Dev in charge. I wonder why Cathal Brugha backed it. Was Dev trying to stitch Collins up from the beginning?
All three (Dev, Brugha & Stack) were anti-treaty. It sounds as if Dev might have anticipated the truce and was maneuvering to be in position to take the credit for 'winning' the war. I don't know if that's correct or how devious Dev really was.

I am a bit baffled there Kinch. What's the connection between 1921 and 1987?
He could have got Collins out of the way by sending him on a job that he didn't know was a suicide mission, like David and Uriah.

Collins didn't do the dirty jobs himself though, he was good at getting others to do it; he got directly involved in it once and it didn't go well for him.
 
Collins didn't do the dirty jobs himself though, he was good at getting others to do it; he got directly involved in it once and it didn't go well for him.
A template for a certain Mr Adams in later years perhaps?
 

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