Irish War of Independence centenary

24 March 1920

A man wearing civilian clothes was shot dead at the corner of Wicklow Street and South William Street in Dublin. He was later identified as ES/59087. Private Bryan Molloy 1st Supply Coy. Royal Army Service Corps, a Clerk at Royal Barracks. Molloy was a British intelligence agent whose real name was Frederick McNulty. Strangely or perhaps not he is recorded by the CWGC under his assumed name. Molloy was aged about 25 and from Manchester. He is interred in Grangorman Military Cemetery in Dublin.

Bryan Fergus Molloy
 
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25 March 1920

Gortatlea RIC barracks near Castleisland, Co. Kerry was attacked by the IRA, led by John Cronin and Tom McEllistrim. The attackers took over the railway station that overlooked the barracks and fired through the roof. Once the slates were broken the barracks was quickly set on fire and the garrison surrendered. Four of the seven RIC men were wounded in the attack and the IRA obtained six rifles, five pistols and a quantity of ammunition.

McEllistrim’s account of the attack begins on page 11.

http://www.militaryarchives.ie/collections/online-collections/bureau-of-military-history-1913-1921/reels/bmh/BMH.WS0882.pdf#page=15

McEllistrim had led an attack on the same RIC barracks almost two years earlier in which two Volunteers were killed and a subsequent attempt made on the lives of two of the RIC men who had killed them.

How the War of Independence began in Kerry
 
26 March 1920

You’ll recall that Resident Magistrate Alan Bell had been leading the investigation of the funding of the war. By this time he had successfully confiscated over £71,000 from Sinn Féin's HQ and by investigating banks throughout the country was set to seize much more. Bell was going to his office in the Four Courts on the Dalkey Tram from his home in Monkstown on the morning the Minister for Finance sent his Squad to close down the investigation.

Tom Keogh cycled to Monkstown to see which tram Bell would take and then cycled back to a stop at the corner of Ailesbury Road where Liam Tobin, Mick McDonnell, Vinnie Byrne, Joe Guilfoyle, Owen Cullen and Joe Dolan waited. Keogh arrived almost at the same time as Bell’s tram just in time to point it out to the waiting men. When the tram stopped the men entered. Keogh and Tobin sat opposite Bell and asked him “Are you Mr. Bell?” As soon as his identity was confirmed they took Bell off the tram at the corner of Simmonscourt Road and in full view of the morning commuters, shot him three times in the head.

Alan Bell was 62, a native of Banagher, Co. Offaly and had been an RIC District Inspector in his early career. His undercover work began back in the 1880s during the Land League campaign and he was also reputed to have been involved in the attempted framing of Parnell for treason. Bell's death caused some consternation in the British establishment and seriously undermined the efforts to confiscate the IRA's funds. He is interred in Deansgrange Cemetery, Dublin.

Edited to add photo of Alan Bell courtesy of @131Weeks.
 
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26 March 1920

You’ll recall that Resident Magistrate Alan Bell had been leading the investigation of the funding of the war. By this time he had successfully confiscated over £71,000 from Sinn Féin's HQ and by investigating banks throughout the country was set to seize much more. Bell was going to his office in the Four Courts on the Dalkey Tram from his home in Monkstown on the morning the Minister for Finance sent his Squad to close down the investigation.

Tom Keogh cycled to Monkstown to see which tram Bell would take and then cycled back to a stop at the corner of Ailesbury Road where Liam Tobin, Mick McDonnell, Vinnie Byrne, Joe Guilfoyle, Owen Cullen and Joe Dolan waited. Keogh arrived almost at the same time as Bell’s tram just in time to point it out to the waiting men. When the tram stopped the men entered. Keogh and Tobin sat opposite Bell and asked him “Are you Mr. Bell?” As soon as his identity was confirmed they took Bell off the tram at the corner of Simmonscourt Road and in full view of the morning commuters, shot him three times in the head.

Alan Bell was 62, a native of Banagher, Co. Offaly and had been an RIC District Inspector in his early career. His undercover work began back in the 1880s during the Land League campaign and he was also reputed to have been involved in the attempted framing of Parnell for treason. Bell's death caused some consternation in the British establishment and seriously undermined the efforts to confiscate the IRA's funds. He is interred in Deansgrange Cemetery, Dublin.
If the post you linked to in regard to Molloy/McNulty is correct, Liam Tobin was a busy beaver in Dublin that week eliminating two British intelligence assets. Tobin was the son of a hardware store clerk, I wonder was it him who Lloyd George had in mind when he expressed unsympathetically later after the wipe out of the British "Cairo gang" that they had allowed themselves to be caught by a bunch of "counter jumpers".

This sort of work, as Menachem Begin was to show again in Palestine (Begin's code name was "Michael" in honour of the man whose example he followed), is where the IRA were at their most effective. This is how you win guerrilla wars, not by ambushing Army patrols or gunning down the odd peeler in some county town.

It's all very well sending in shock troops to West Cork in the form of the Auxies and then claiming you have the "murder gang by the throat". If your own senior intelligence operatives are being shot dead in broad daylight in the streets of Dublin your entire strategy is failing and failing badly.

(ETA: It was actually Yitzak Shamir, leader of the Stern Gang, who called himself Michael)
 
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If the post you linked to in regard to Molloy/McNulty is correct, Liam Tobin was a busy beaver in Dublin that week eliminating two British intelligence assets. Tobin was the son of a hardware store clerk, I wonder was it him who Lloyd George had in mind when he expressed unsympathetically later after the wipe out of the British "Cairo gang" that they had allowed themselves to be caught by a bunch of "counter jumpers".

This sort of work, as Menachem Begin was to show again in Palestine (Begin's code name was "Michael" in honour of the man whose example he followed), is where the IRA were at their most effective. This is how you win guerrilla wars, not by ambushing Army patrols or gunning down the odd peeler in some county town.

It's all very well sending in shock troops to West Cork in the form of the Auxies and then claiming you have the "murder gang by the throat". If your own senior intelligence operatives are being shot dead in broad daylight in the streets of Dublin your entire strategy is failing and failing badly.

(ETA: It was actually Yitzak Shamir, leader of the Stern Gang, who called himself Michael)
Again, a tit for tat situation as others were doing exactly the same thing when they took down terrorists such as MacCurtain.
 
If the post you linked to in regard to Molloy/McNulty is correct, Liam Tobin was a busy beaver in Dublin that week eliminating two British intelligence assets. Tobin was the son of a hardware store clerk, I wonder was it him who Lloyd George had in mind when he expressed unsympathetically later after the wipe out of the British "Cairo gang" that they had allowed themselves to be caught by a bunch of "counter jumpers".

This sort of work, as Menachem Begin was to show again in Palestine (Begin's code name was "Michael" in honour of the man whose example he followed), is where the IRA were at their most effective. This is how you win guerrilla wars, not by ambushing Army patrols or gunning down the odd peeler in some county town.

It's all very well sending in shock troops to West Cork in the form of the Auxies and then claiming you have the "murder gang by the throat". If your own senior intelligence operatives are being shot dead in broad daylight in the streets of Dublin your entire strategy is failing and failing badly.
Again, a tit for tat situation as others were doing exactly the same thing when they took down terrorists such as MacCurtain.
MacCurtain, as was explained above, was opposed to killing policemen, so he was a democratically-elected official who was murdered by state forces for having a political opinion the state didn't approve of.

Who exactly are the "terrorists" in that situation?

And what is the legitimacy of your system of government when you admit that your policemen are the moral equivalent of terrorists?

You are painting yourself into a very odd moral corner there 21st, and I am not sure you have fully thought through the implications of your logic.
 
MacCurtain, as was explained above, was opposed to killing policemen, so he was a democratically-elected official who was murdered by state forces for having a political opinion the state didn't approve of.
It has never been established who killed MacCurtain.
He was a very senior IRA terrorist
He had been a very senior terrorist since before 1916 at which time he had 1000 men 'under command'.
His 'opposition' to killing policemen is from a single report as part of the post death propaganda. He commanded the IRA in Cork, you know the place where lots of policemen were being murdered both on and off duty.
No one knows why he was killed but reports also sugested it was the IRA who did it.
Ironically his son was convicted of the murder of an Irish policeman but was excused the death penalty and went on to a very senior position in the IRA before and during the Border campaign, d'ya see a pattern there?
 
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MacCurtain, as was explained above, was opposed to killing policemen, so he was a democratically-elected official who was murdered by state forces for having a political opinion the state didn't approve of.

Who exactly are the "terrorists" in that situation?

And what is the legitimacy of your system of government when you admit that your policemen are the moral equivalent of terrorists?

You are painting yourself into a very odd moral corner there 21st, and I am not sure you have fully thought through the implications of your logic.
Funny, you see killings by Police as murders but murders by terrorists as 'brave actions by patriots carrying out legitimate military actions.

I see both for what they were, murder.
 
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Bell's grave:


How Collins found out about Bell, using photos etc to identify him:


A terrible business overall.
 
Funny, you see killings by Police as murders but murders by terrorists as 'brave actions by patriots carrying out legitimate military actions.

I see both for what they were, murder.
Yes, but oddly you seem to be ambivalent about state-sponsored murder. I am rather old-fashioned, I don't believe that the proper response by the state to a local crime wave is to turn policemen into criminals and that when the state is murdering its own citizens it has forfeited the right to govern.

I suppose we shall simply have to disagree with that.

(You seem to be quoting me when you say the bit about "brave actions", is that a quotation of mine or are you just making that up?)
 
Bell's grave:


How Collins found out about Bell, using photos etc to identify him:


A terrible business overall.
Someone has left a small Tricolour at the grave of Bell in that photo, I would be interested in the thought process behind that gesture.
 
Someone has left a small Tricolour at the grave of Bell in that photo, I would be interested in the thought process behind that gesture.
In reference to Michel Knightly;

"He witnessed the gunfire around the GPO, and the famous and ill-fated charge by British Lancers on horseback."

It wasn't a charge, more an ambush, and the men were Irishmen from the 5th Royal Irish Lancers.

This is in the preface to Neil Richardson's book; According To Their Lights. Stories Of Irishmen In The British Army, Easter 1916.
 
Please correct me if I'm wrong but when flying by chopper over Lough Erne to land at St Angelo, we used to see one or two small US Aircraft, or parts of aircraft, below the water, I seem to remember a pilot telling me that due to the hot summer '1975' the lough waters were much lower than normal?

But what a lovely place that was!
If you were flying in a chopper at the end of Shackelton Barracks, Ballykelly, there was a single engined American fighter that had crashed into the drink in WW2. Luckily the pilot got out apparently. You could see it on a sunny day in low tide.
 
If you were flying in a chopper at the end of Shackelton Barracks, Ballykelly, there was a single engined American fighter that had crashed into the drink in WW2. Luckily the pilot got out apparently. You could see it on a sunny day in low tide.
I think Binevenagh is pretty much scattered with bits of wreckage. Coming into Ballykelly or Eglinton when there was low cloud (it's Northern Ireland, that's pretty much 360 days a year) was apparently enough to make any pilot want to check his life insurance policy knowing that big lump was lurking there somewhere. Across the Lough in Inishowen if you feel like a refresher in a pub in Stroove you can examine the mangled crank shaft of a Flying Fortress engine in the car park.
 
23 March 1920

General Sir Nevil Macready was appointed Commander in Chief of British forces in Ireland replacing General Frederick Shaw. A year previously he had written to Ian McPherson on his appointment as Chief Secretary that “I loathe the country you are going to and its people with a depth deeper than the sea and more violent than that which I feel against the Boche.” It was bound to end well then.
General Sir Nevil Macready

Well he had previously been in Ireland in 1914 at the time of the Curragh Incident. He probably realised what a poisoned chalice it was, which subsequently proved to be correct.

Interesting background. Born in England, served in a Jock regiment, Grandfather was an Irishman from Dublin. Supported Home Rule and had liberal tendencies for a pre-war army officer.
 
I think Binevenagh is pretty much scattered with bits of wreckage. Coming into Ballykelly or Eglinton when there was low cloud (it's Northern Ireland, that's pretty much 360 days a year) was apparently enough to make any pilot want to check his life insurance policy knowing that big lump was lurking there somewhere. Across the Lough in Inishowen if you feel like a refresher in a pub in Stroove you can examine the mangled crank shaft of a Flying Fortress engine in the car park.
B17 Crash.

There was a documentary about this crash outside Belfast in WW2 where a young lad found a ring belonging to a member of the crew (who were all killed in the crash) It was engraved and he managed to track down the next-of-kin in the USA. It might be on YouTube somewhere.
 

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I have a neighbour who was stationed in Londonderry during the war, he was a Submariner, he tells lovely stories about Derry before the troubles, he had never in his life seen nightlife and people quite like them. He also tells of German U -Boats that were taken in there after surrender, Interesting times!
 
I have a neighbour who was stationed in Londonderry during the war, he was a Submariner, he tells lovely stories about Derry before the troubles, he had never in his life seen nightlife and people quite like them. He also tells of German U -Boats that were taken in there after surrender, Interesting times!
During the WWII Derry was transformed from a sleepy little backwater into the hub of the Battle of the Atlantic, with almost 150 or so RN, RCN and USN ships based there at one point. It was phenomenal time for the town and people of my parents' generation always looked back with pride to the war as one of great excitement and unusually full employment.

So significant was the city's role in the battle that in tribute after VE Day Sir Max Horton ordered the remaining U-boats still at sea to surrender into Derry where he personally went to watch them sail in under the White Ensign.

There wasn't a family in Derry in my day which didn't have at least one (in my case three) female member of the family married to a US or British serviceman (quite apart from the hundreds of local lads in the services themselves) from that time.

Post war there were the RAF and Coastal Command bases in Ballykelly and Eglinton, HMS Sea Eagle and the US Navy Communications Center in Clooney. Portuguese and Norwegian sailors wandering around the town during NATO exercises were a frequent sight.

Anyway, I am risking dragging the thread way off topic, below is an interesting link.

 

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