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Irish War of Independence centenary

The riots in Derry and the actions of the dockers have been a fascinating read. Some great knowledge shared, many thanks.
 
25 May 1920

Loughgeorge RIC Barracks in Co. Galway twas attacked by men of Galway No. 1 brigade. Despite setting the building ablaze, and extensively damaging the gable end with an explosion, the RIC refused to surrender and the IRA retreated at dawn.

In Queenstown, Co. Cork dockers refused to unload boxes of weapons which were destined for Ballincollig Cavalry Barracks from a RN ship. They unloaded crates of food apparently unaware that food is a weapon.

A riot broke out at the Claremorris fair in Co. Mayo when police attempted to arrest a Traveller. The crowd turned on the police and attacked them with sticks, injuring several of them. Peace was only restored when troops arrived.
 
26 May 1920


Farmers in Wicklow were experiencing difficulties in going about their business due to the number of Army checkpoints manned by troops based in Arklow (2nd Royal Berkshires) and the Powerscourt estate (11th Hussars). The lad in the photo is being searched in a suitably stylish manner by the Cherrypickers, I assume.

Kilbrittain Castle was burnt to the ground. The site was first fortified in the 11th Century and was owned by Reardon and Doyle, timber merchants from Cork. Presumably it would have been used as a military post. Somebody rebuilt part of it in 1969 and it’s still in use today.

The munitions strike continued. In an attempt to bypass the dockers, railwaymen were ordered to unload ships at the North Wall in Dublin. The employees of the London and North Western Railway Co refused to do so. There was a backlog in shipping across the Irish Sea due to the strike.

The War Office announced plans to send another 3,000 troops to Ireland.
 
27 May 1920


The Bank of Ireland in Kilmallock was the RIC Barracks in 1920. Its poor situation is still evident, overlooked as it was by Carroll's Pub next door. The IRA broke through the Barrack's roof from Carroll's.​

Kilmallock RIC Barracks in Co. Limerick was attacked. The garrison numbered from 10 to 28 RIC men, depending on the account one reads, and the IRA about 30 men directly involved in the attack, with another 30 - 40 involved in guarding and scouting. Despite a night long battle, in which the IRA broke a hole in the from a nearby building and threw petrol into it and tried to burn the building, the RIC, under Sergeant Tobias O'Sullivan, did not surrender. When the barracks became untenable they withdrew to an outbuilding.

Apart from the Limerick IRA, men from East Clare, Kerry, Cork and Tipperary took part. The practice of bringing men in from all parts for big operations was something of which I was unaware. Presumably it was due to there being a limited number of trained and experienced men in the IRA. Some historians have suggested that shortly after this attack the idea of forming Flying Columns was proposed.

Two RIC men and one IRA man were killed;


Sgt Thomas Kane (above), aged 48 and from Portlaois. He is interred in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

Constable Joseph Morton (@131Weeks gives his name as Martin), aged 47 and from Thurles. Buried in Kilmallock. On June 1st the Irish Independent carried a story that Constable Morton was born in Kingsbridge Railway Station in Dublin. His mother went into labour while travelling back from the funeral of her husband, an RIC officer killed in Belfast. The police Roll of Honour records that Sub Constable Joseph Morton died on 20th August 1872, aged 34. He was shot dead whilst attempting to keep two rioting mobs apart in Norfolk Street, Belfast.

Capt Liam Scully (above) from Glencar, Co Kerry. He is interred in Templeglantine Cemetery, Co. Limerick

The IRA, led by Tom Sheridan, ambushed a patrol of RIC at Crossdoney, Co. Cavan. Sheridan was hit almost immediately, receiving three bullet wounds in the legs and groin. His brother, Pat, was also shot and wounded. Sergeant Johnson of the RIC was wounded in the leg before the patrol jacked it in and were relieved of their weapons.

Tom Sheridan was losing a lot of blood and he asked for a priest, who was called from Ballinagh. Sheridan had to be moved several times before men of the Longford IRA brought him to Dublin.

Sergeant Johnson was also badly wounded and his comrades vowed to kill every member of the Sheridan family if he died. On the night after the ambush, the Sheridan family home was set on fire by RIC men.


The Freeman’s Joirnal printed a photo of a military patrol in Co. Laois. The photo was taken on the Maryborough-Limerick road around Borris-in-Ossory and Ballaghmore, where Ned Quinlan and the Roscrea IRA, have been very active in blocking the road.

Edited to add some detail on the two RIC casualties and the photos of the barracks building (Irish War Memorials website) and Liam Scully (@131Weeks).
 
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27 May 1920

Kilmallock RIC Barracks in Co. Limerick was attacked. The garrison numbered from 10 to 28 RIC men, depending on the account one reads, and the IRA about 30 men directly involved in the attack, with another 30 - 40 involved in guarding and scouting. Despite a night long battle, in which the IRA broke a hole in the barracks from a nearby building and threw petrol into it and tried to burn the building, the RIC, under Sergeant Tobias O'Sullivan, did not surrender. When the barracks became untenable they withdrew to an outbuilding.

Apart from the Limerick IRA, men from East Clare, Kerry, Cork and Tipperary took part. The practice of bringing men in from all parts for big operations was something of which I was unaware. Presumably it was due to there being a limited number of trained and experienced men in the IRA. Some historians have suggested that shortly after this attack the idea of forming Flying Columns was proposed.

Two RIC men and one IRA man were killed;

Sgt Thomas Kane, aged 48. He is interred in Portlaois.

Constable Joseph Morton, aged 47. Buried in Kilmallock.

Capt Liam Scully from Glencar, Co Kerry. He is interred in Templeglantine Cemetery, Co. Limerick

The IRA, led by Tom Sheridan, ambushed a patrol of RIC at Crossdoney, Co. Cavan. Sheridan was hit almost immediately, receiving three bullet wounds in the legs and groin. His brother, Pat, was also shot and wounded. Sergeant Johnson of the RIC was wounded in the leg before the patrol jacked it in and were relieved of their weapons.

Tom Sheridan was losing a lot of blood and he asked for a priest, who was called from Ballinagh. Sheridan had to be moved several times before men of the Longford IRA brought him to Dublin.

Sergeant Johnson was also badly wounded and his comrades vowed to kill every member of the Sheridan family if he died. On the night after the ambush, the Sheridan family home was set on fire by RIC men.


The Freeman’s Joirnal printed a photo of a military patrol in Co. Laois. The photo was taken on the Maryborough-Limerick road around Borris-in-Ossory and Ballaghmore, where Ned Quinlan and the Roscrea IRA, have been very active in blocking the road.
Gary, Do you think the influx of trained ex military men from the RIC Special Reserve was having an effect on the apparent determination to hold RIC stations?
 
Gary, Do you think the influx of trained ex military men from the RIC Special Reserve was having an effect on the apparent determination to hold RIC stations?
It certainly cannot have hurt. That said there were plenty of men rejoining the ranks of the regular RIC after serving in WW1. Sgt Dunphy who was shot dead in Limerick last week being an example. At some stage there will also be a move to employ ex-Army Officers as Barrack Defence Officers whose job it was to organise and train the garrisons of the RIC Bks. There's also the fact that by and large the war has been fought in a somewhat gentlemanly manner to date. When an RIC man surrenders or is wounded he is likely to be left alone. By the end of 1920 this will have changed of course and anyone taken prisoner by either side was likely to be summarily executed, thus increasing the chances that someone will choose to go down fighting.

Link to an article about the attack here

 

Mike Barton

On ROPS
On ROPs
It certainly cannot have hurt. That said there were plenty of men rejoining the ranks of the regular RIC after serving in WW1. Sgt Dunphy who was shot dead in Limerick last week being an example. At some stage there will also be a move to employ ex-Army Officers as Barrack Defence Officers whose job it was to organise and train the garrisons of the RIC Bks. There's also the fact that by and large the war has been fought in a somewhat gentlemanly manner to date. When an RIC man surrenders or is wounded he is likely to be left alone. By the end of 1920 this will have changed of course and anyone taken prisoner by either side was likely to be summarily executed, thus increasing the chances that someone will choose to go down fighting.

Link to an article about the attack here

You make a good point about a "turning point", reading the linked article it seems that the war was being revved up a considerable degree on both sides in the spring of 1920.

One gets the impression that as so often in Britain's relations with Ireland (and subsequently in other colonial outposts) the local men have been allowed to shamble along doing the best they can with whatever limited resources they have been given, but Nanny Westminster has now entered the playroom and she has started to tidy up the toys, cuff ears and administer the cod liver oil.

It appears the British are now determined on the firm smack of good government, no doubt as many of their supporters in Ireland will have spent the last year and a half demanding (some things never change), and things are going to cut up rough.

Of course, having taken the gloves off by this time next year, they will have flung their hands up in despair and chucked the towel in, simply exasperated at these impossible Irish who can't do as they are bid (like I say, some things never change).

And across the world, nascent nationalist groups will have taken note.

As @par avion noted above, in many ways the Phoney War of the Irish War of Independence is ending and the war that has entered the consciousness of history is just about to begin, it's going to get very nasty indeed over the next year.
 
29 May 1920

Michael O’Toole and Martin Ferragher were beaten to death by a gang of masked men in Co. Mayo, The two men worked on the estate of James Fitzgerald-Kenny near Castlebar which was at the centre of a land dispute. Fitzgerald-Kenny was being boycotted to force him to sell his land to his tenants. As O’Toole and Ferragher made their way home from Downey’s Pub in Clogher, they were set on by a group of about 20 masked men and savagely beaten. O’Toole died on the same night while Ferragher lingered until 17 June. Five men will be brought to court on 14 August with two of them – Jeremiah Bourke and Pat Coleman, held in Sligo Gaol to await trial for the murders. No trial was held however because Bourke and Coleman were released in October.

Thomas Sheridan, wounded two days ago in an IRA ambush on an RIC patrol near Crossdoney in Cavan, died of his wounds in the Mater Hospital, Dublin.

The fallout from yesterday's attack on the RIC Barracks in Kilmallock continued. The police discovered an oil tanker which had been used to pump petrol on barracks. Henry Tudor addressed the police in person after the funeral of Constable Morton and awarded medals to the survivors. Overnight the RIC burnt down Kilmallock Parish Hall and fired indiscriminately at houses. Many of the citizens of the town had wisely evacuated in anticipation of the reprisals. Limerick city was also the scene of random shooting by the RIC with a young man named Martin Kelly being shot in the leg as he stood outside a pub.


A photo of some of the garrison was published in the Cork Examiner. Badly colourised version above as the uniforms should not be police blue. The men are left to right Constables Feehily, Holmes, Sergeant Sullivan, Constables Bailie and Barry.​

In Louth village, the IRA took advantage of everyone being at Mass to burn the RIC barracks. The fire spread to several adjoining buildings, saving the police/military the trouble of doing the job. It’s a bad day for Louths. The one in Lincolnshire suffered a deluge of rain during a thunderstorm. 23 people drowned when the river burst its banks.

The Irish Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Soldiers and Sailors gathered in Lower Gardiner Street, Dublin to prevent bailiffs evicting John Murray from his home. Murray was behind in his rent and his child is ill with pneumonia. The bailiffs fúcked off.

Cork railwaymen announced that they will not await the official Union line and will not transport munitions or troops.

In Queenstown, four members of the Essex Regiment were injured when they were attacks by a crowd celebrating the release from prison of two local men.

All of today's information is courtesy of @131Weeks
 
30 May 1920
69864 Pte Ernest McCaffrey, 2nd Bn. Highland Light Infantry drowned while swimming in the River Shannon near Limerick. Aged about 18 and from Glasgow he is interred in Mount St. Lawrence Cemetery, Limerick.

Elsewhere in Co. Limerick someone found a human kidney on a train. There is speculation that the owner may have been hit by the train while felling trees during the attack at Kilmallock.

Meanwhile in Kilmallock, only four men turned up of the 14 men summoned for jury duty on the inquest into the deaths of Sgt Kane and Constable Morton. The inquests could not proceed.

At Mohill Train Station, Co. Leitrim, Joe Mitchel led a party of IRA to seize steel reinforcements to be installed in the local Barracks. A concealed guard opened fire and after a brief exchange of shots, the IRA retreated

When the Dublin train arrived at Dundalk station, 15 armed men seized English newspapers and burnt them on the platform. Constable Hurley, bravely, if foolishly, intervened but was overpowered and disarmed.

The SS Curraghmore docked at North Wall, Dublin and was unloaded by the military. The vessel also carried several hundred passengers, including many new English recruits for the RIC.
 
31 May 1920
The first meeting took place at Downing Street of the British Cabinet with its new Irish officials. The meeting discussed ways of making the Irish feel the economic effects of the campaigns of murder and arson. This became an official policy of reprisals by burning creameries, factories and mills. At this meeting Churchill indicated his loss of enthusiasm for an Emergency Gendarmarie. Despite this on July 23rd Tudor announced the formation of a ‘special corps of gerdarmarie, the auxiliary division”.

I may have said this before but WTF were they thinking?

The British press reported that Royal Navy ships were being prepared at Sheerness for action in Ireland.

Dungarvan, Co. Waterford and 22 other towns across Ireland received military reinforcements. Three lorry loads of extra troops arrived in Dungarvan while along the coast in Youghal RAF planes circled the town for an hour around midnight.

In Westport local farmerss with the help pf local Volunteers occupied 56 acres of land belonging to Lord Sligo.

In contrast in Kilmurry, Co. Roscommon the military drove hundreds of cattle belonging to local farmers off land belonging to the Congested Districts Board.
 

Mike Barton

On ROPS
On ROPs

I may have said this before but WTF were they thinking?

Standard operating procedure in Ireland and subsequently exported to many other post-colonial trouble spots around the world.

Local administrators make a mess of the whole thing and lose control (admittedly often after years of ignored warnings from the local men and decades of under funding). Westminster loses patience and sends in their men, sound chaps, no messing around, they'll teach these Paddies/wogs/Yids/n******s/dagos/towel heads* (delete as appropriate) the good news.

Suddenly no expense is spared, the millions that might have prevented the problem are immediately found to try and cure the symptoms of the problem, bodies start piling up as the natives are shown the benefits of civilised, liberal government as opposed to the bodies that are piling up as a result of the efforts of the national liberators.

Eighteen months later, those sound men are tearing their hair out in exasperation at these damnable natives who won't form up in proper lines of half naked spear chuckers so that they can be mown down by Maxim guns, the way it used to be done in the good old days. They then begin negotiations with the representatives of the evil terrorists they have spent the last 18 months insisting were nothing but a bunch of criminals who had no real support among the native people.

Negotiations end in a messy fudge, the Union Flag comes down, a brightly coloured new flag goes up, the British retire to a life of pink gins and regrets in a nice seaside town in the south of England and civil war erupts among the natives back in the former far flung outpost.

Twenty years later the senior surviving former evil terrorist is having tea with the Queen in Buckingham Palace, welcomed as a senior statesman and all the unpleasantness is quietly forgotten.

Rise and repeat.

Did I miss anything out?
 
Standard operating procedure in Ireland and subsequently exported to many other post-colonial trouble spots around the world.

Local administrators make a mess of the whole thing and lose control (admittedly often after years of ignored warnings from the local men and decades of under funding). Westminster loses patience and sends in their men, sound chaps, no messing around, they'll teach these Paddies/wogs/Yids/n******s/dagos/towel heads* (delete as appropriate) the good news.

Suddenly no expense is spared, the millions that might have prevented the problem are immediately found to try and cure the symptoms of the problem, bodies start piling up as the natives are shown the benefits of civilised, liberal government as opposed to the bodies that are piling up as a result of the efforts of the national liberators.

Eighteen months later, those sound men are tearing their hair out in exasperation at these damnable natives who won't form up in proper lines of half naked spear chuckers so that they can be mown down by Maxim guns, the way it used to be done in the good old days. They then begin negotiations with the representatives of the evil terrorists they have spent the last 18 months insisting were nothing but a bunch of criminals who had no real support among the native people.

Negotiations end in a messy fudge, the Union Flag comes down, a brightly coloured new flag goes up, the British retire to a life of pink gins and regrets in a nice seaside town in the south of England and civil war erupts among the natives back in the former far flung outpost.

Twenty years later the senior surviving former evil terrorist is having tea with the Queen in Buckingham Palace, welcomed as a senior statesman and all the unpleasantness is quietly forgotten.

Rise and repeat.

Did I miss anything out?
I can't recall Chin Peng ever having tea in Buckingham palace after 1948.
 
1 June 1920

Blarney RIC Barracks in Co. Cork was attacked. An explosive device placed against an adjoining wall in the building next door failed to penetrate and the attack was abandoned. The barracks was abandoned shortly after the attack and subsequently destroyed by the IRA.

There were successful raids for arms by the Dublin Brigade, IRA on King's Inn and the Donegal IRA on Rossan Point Coastguard station, The Donegal raid had to be made sooner than planned because the Station was due to be reinforced. The Dublin raid netted 25 rifles, 2 Lewis guns and a quantity of ammunition.

An account of the Dublin Raid here;

https://www.kingsinns.ie/cmsfiles/n...1916-1926_-by-Hugh-McDowell-LSDSI-Auditor.pdf
 
.....Twenty years later the senior surviving former evil terrorist is having tea with the Queen in Buckingham Palace, welcomed as a senior statesman and all the unpleasantness is quietly forgotten....



Not Tea with Her Majesty and it was 30 years later but the idea is the same.​
 
2 June 1920

Attack on Clara RIC Barracks in Co. Offaly. The defence of the barracks was led by Sergeant William Somers, a native of Co. Kilkenny who had joined the RIC in 1893. There were seven other policemen in the barracks that night who were informed by Somers that he would shoot any man who abandoned his post.

About 1 am the Sergeants family quarters adjoining the barracks was broken into and his wife and children evacuated to the town’s Post Office. When the firing commenced Mary Somers ran back to the police barracks and was hit in the hand by a stray bullet.

While the attacking party fired on the steel-shuttered windows, a few men breached a hole through a wall from the sergeant’s quarters. A Constable in the barracks threw several bombs through the hole, preventing the IRA accessing the barracks. The attack was abandoned at 3am with the IRA suffering three casualties, one fatal. Patrick Seery was hit in the chest and died in the Mater Hospital, Dublin. Martin Fleming and Ned Brennan were also wounded with Fleming losing a hand. There were no casualties on the RIC side. Reinforcements from 2nd KSLI reached Clara from Tullamore, seven miles away at 6.30am.

There was also a diversionary attack on a police barracks at Geashill, Co. Offaly. This attack lasted only a short time and seems to have been made in the hope of having reinforcements running from post to pillar.

Down in Kerry Paddy Paul Fitzgerald led an attack on the RIC barracks in Fenit. The attackers opened fire and, breaking a hole in the roof, lobbed a few bombs into the building. They then demanded the garrison surrender which was refused. At this stage a Royal Navy Sloop in the harbour intervened with its main gun. It must have been a pleasant surprise for the IRA who had blocked the pier with petrol soaked straw to stop the sailors reinforcing the garrison. Naval Gunfire Support was probably an new and unwelcome concept. With commendable devotion to duty they kept up the firing until dawn and then legged it with the barracks blazing merrily.

Up in Down (yes, it’s hilarious) the Belfast IRA joined the locals and attacked Crossgar RIC Barracks. Their explosives failed to breach the barracks wall and the attack was abandoned at 3 am. RIC Sgt Fitzpatrick was badly wounded in the attack.
 
3 June 1920

Drangan R.I.C. barracks, Co. Tipperary was attacked by men of the South Tipperary and Kilkenny brigades of the IRA. In nominal command was Sean Treacy, who was Vice Brigadier of the South Tipp Bde. But also present was the perennial Ernie O’Malley who was probably the actual leader IMO. The attack was originally planned for Sunday, June 6th, but was brought forward to June 3rd because it was voting day in the area in the Local Elections. It was thought that the presence of strangers in the area wouldn't look suspicious on voting day.

All roads leading to the barracks, except for one were barricaded. A petrol pump and hose line which had been taken from Cashel were to be used to pump petrol onto the roof of the barracks. Prior to the attack Sean Treacy discussed it with Tom Donovan, 7th Battalion O.C. and Nicholas Moroney, 7th Battalion Adjutant. The attack was originally planned for Sunday, June 6, but was brought forward to Thursday, June 3, as this was polling day in the locality and strangers wouldn't look suspicious.

The IRA men were in position by 11.30pm and the barracks was completely surrounded. At this stage an unexpected R.I.C. patrol of Sergeant Robinson, Constable Glennon and a Black and Tan named King left the barracks. It turned out later that the dogs of the village had started barking loudly, disturbed by the Volunteers moving into position. Inevitably the R.I.C. patrol confronted the IRA who attempted to overpower the policemen. Sergeant Robinson was captured but the other two escaped and ran back to the barracks. King was wounded by a shot that grazed his forehead. The shot that wounded King alerted the garrison and the attack begin.

A group of men under the command of Ernie O'Malley attempt to bore a hole through the wall of the barracks from an adjoining house while others tried to break holes in the barracks roof in order to pump petrol into the attic. Petrol bombs were also lobbed onto the roof setting it on fire. As the fire spread through the barracks the ammunition inside began to explode in the heat at which stage the R.I.C. hoisted a white flag and negotiated a surrender. The barracks was vacated and some arms and ammunition salvaged. O'Malley was badly burnt on the neck while removing a box of ammunition from the barracks while Bill Dwyer and Jack Foley were wounded in the attack.

Lt Colonel Gerard Ferguson Smyth took up the post of RIC Divisional Commander for Munster. He and Tudor had served together on the staff of 9th Scottish Division during the war. Ferguson Smyth and his attitude to policing would cause further resignations from the RIC.

Constables Connor and Callaghan were fired on from a building as they walked down Parnell Street in Dublin. Neither man was injured and their attacker escaped.

In Blarney, Co. Cork The IRA burnt what was left of Blarney RIC Barracks after their a few nights previously. They also set the adjoining Courthouse ablaze.

In Westminster House of Commons, Colonel Wilfred Ashley MP for Fylde, raised his concerns with the Sinn Féin Courts and in particular the one held recently in Ballinasloe. Meanwhile the government indicated that in the future, partitioned Ireland the RIC and DMP will be wound up so that Edward Carson can have a Protestant police force for a Protestant people in northern Ireland. Still no indication of how the south will be policed apparently.
 
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