Irish War of Independence centenary

2 July 1920


The ambush site today. From the description of the action the ambushers were behind a wall at the base of the tree centre photo and I'm standing approximately where Sgt Tobin and Constable Brady opened fire.
On the second day of every month the RIC men of the district cycled into Cashel, Co. Tipperary to collect their pay. On their return to the village of Ballinure the policemen always travelled the same route and on the way, dropped off the pension of an ex-RIC man named Grant who lived in the area.

The local IRA men decided to ambush the RIC on 2 July at Newtown Cross, midway between the villages of Dualla and Ballinure. On that day the RIC party consisted of four men—Sergeant Robert Tobin, Constable John Brady and Constable Moloney of the RIC, and one Special Reserve Constable , David Ross, from Scotland. Or as one participant described him in his Witness Statement, “a ginger Black and Tan”.

The ambush party consisted of six IRA men—Tommy Donovan, CO of 7th Battalion, Seán Hayes, Seán Walshe, Michael Burke, Paul Mulcahy and Joseph Ormond. According to Mulcahy, their plan was to call on the constables to halt and only to shoot if resistance was offered. Donovan did not think that the police would offer resistance but he was wrong.

At about 4.30pm the RIC patrol arrived at Newtown Cross. Donovan had assumed that they would be in a group but Ross was cycling alone some 50 yards in front while Tobin and Brady cycled together and Moloney brought up the rear twenty yards further back. The IRA called on the men to halt as Ross drew near. The Scotsman wisely jacked it in straight away. The rest jumped off their bicycles and took cover. According to the RIC, the IRA opened fire first, while Mulcahy and Tierney said that Sgt Tobin fired first. Whoever it was, Sgt Tobin was shot and killed almost immediately. Brady continued firing, at which the IRA men took to the fields to try and outflank him. During the lull in firing Brady got back on his bike and cycled back to Dualla. Donovan, the only man in the ambush party with a rifle, managed to wound him in the stomach but Brady made it back to Dualla before collapsing outside Dunphy’s Pub. An IRA scout named Nagle was sent after with Ross’s pistol to finish him off but a crowd had gathered around the wounded man when Nagle got there and Brady’s life was saved.

Back at the ambush site, the remaining two constables were disarmed and released. One unusual feature of the ambush was the involvement of a woman, Mary O’Dwyer, a Cumann na mBan member from Dualla, who was a scout before and after the ambush. The actual ambush itself is a prime example of why these things should not be done off the cuff. The ambush party was undermanned and underarmed and worst of all was the assumption that the RIC wouldn’t fight back. Donovan would repeat these mistakes later in the year and pay for it with his life. He was killed in Killenaule on 31st October 1920.


Sergeant Robert Tobin was 42 years old and married with six children. He was born on 15 October 1877 in Killeigh, Co. Wexford, the son of Sergeant John Tobin, RIC and Catherine Barron, who were married in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny on 26 November 1872. He was 5’9 ¼” in height, aged 18 years and four months when he joined the RIC on 2 March 1896, recommended by District Inspector Charles Henry O’Hara (1871-1955), then stationed in Callan, Co. Kilkenny and he was posted to Co. Dublin on 11 September 1896, Tipperary S.R. on 1 March 1898, the Reserve in Galway E.R. on 18 August 1901 and Tipperary S.R. on 1 April 1903 (Clonmel), (Killenaule) and (Ballinure). He married Anastasia Lilburn, Postmistress, Killenaule Post Office, daughter of John Lilburn, Postmaster on 7 July 1905 in Killenaule. Sergeant Tobin’s widow Anastacia ran Killenaule Post Office and following the ambush the family moved to 8, Marino Terrace, Clontarf, Co. Dublin before her seventh child, a son Patrick, was born on 17 November 1920. Anastacia later moved to London where she again managed a post office. She died in 1957 and is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

Mary O’Dwyer lived to be 100 years old, dying in 2003. In her 90s she was still giving assistance to members of the Provisional IRA.

Constable Brady survived although he lost his sight as a result of his wounds. He lived into old age in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. Constable Brady had been a Reservist in the Irish Guards and was mobilised and served in WW1. Wounded in action, he was discharged medically unfit from the army and had re-joined the RIC on 11 December 1918. Brady was awarded the Constabulary Medal for gallantry on 20 September 1920.

Michael Burke, who lived about three miles from the scene, was arrested on 9 August 1920 to await trial by court-martial for the incident. It was alleged that at the time of his arrest he had in his possession an automatic pistol which had been taken from Constable Maloney.
 
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3 July 1920

Head Constable Samuel Perrott died of injuries received during a riot in Belfast on 27 June when he was struck on the head by a stone. A native of Bandon, Co Cork, he was aged 49, married with six children.

89422 Sgt William Penson-Harris, 21st Bde, Royal Field Artillery, died in the Military Hospital in Fermoy, Co. Cork. Penson-Harris had been in charge of a patrol on Rathealy Road in Fermoy at about 12:30 a.m. on 28 June. Driver F. W. Geldart, asked him for the time, and while getting a watch out of his trousers pocket a Verey pistol Penson-Harris was carrying in his belt went off. Penson-Harris suffered severe burns to his left thigh for which he delayed seeking medical treatment. The injury turned septic and ultimately proved fatal. Penson-Harris is buried at Great Rollright in Oxfordshire.

In Wexford, the trial of seven men for the murder of Ellen Morris, The Ballagh, during an IRA arms raid began. Only 52 of the 100 summoned jurors attended, the judge noting it might be difficult to form a jury. John Lacey, who confessed to shooting Mrs. Morris by accident had his plea of guilty to manslaughter accepted by the judge. The court was subject to heavy security with the Army mounting a machine gun of the roof of the courthouse.

Incidents of the IRA cutting young women's hair off were growing with reported cases near Tralee and in Portmagee. In the latter two young women had their hair sheared in for being on friendly terms with policemen.
 
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4 July 1920

A planned IRA attack on Shevry RIC Barracks in Tipperary came to nought and led to the death of one of the IRA men. The men from the Upperchurch area got into position but the attack was delayed by the arrival of a lorryload of troops and RIC from the Thurles direction. These men stayed in Shevry until near dawn before moving back towards Thurles, by which time it was too late to launch the attack. A man named Michael Small, a Captain in the Borrisoleigh Company, had left the attack party earlier and was making his way home cross country. By ill luck he was seen and shot dead by the men in the lorry.

The men in the lorry were actually a ration party which had delivered supplies to the barracks late the previous evening. They were supposed to have been allowed return unmolested to Thurles but an ambush party on the route fired on them against orders and they turned back to Shevry.

Richard Lumley, aged 60, was shot dead by the military at Holycross Co. Tipperary. Evidence was given by the Military that Lumley was one of a party of men who attacked a relief force going to Holycross. Many people objected to this assertion stating that Lumley was non-political and was described by many witnesses as ‘half-witted.’ I’m not sure if the soldiers who killed Lumley are the same ones that killed Small.

Edited to add that Lumley was killed by a seperate group. It seems that a diversionary attack was made on Holycross RIC Barracks and Lumley fell victim to reinforcements from Thurles reacting to this attack.

Across the Pond, the Democratic Nation Convention was held in San Francisco, this week a century ago. A state delegate vote on a proposal to recognise the Irish Republic was defeated by 665 votes to 402. A similar proposal at the Republican Convention in Chicago in early June never made it onto the floor for a vote.
 
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5 July 1920

Volunteer James Dunne from Gorey was shot dead by Constable Henry Lenihan at Dunbar’s Public House in Ferns, Co. Wexford. Lenihan, a Corkman, was charged with murder, but at his trial he was found not guilty on that charge, but guilty of manslaughter, and sentenced to seven years penal servitude. Lenihan and another Constable, named Connell, had gone to Dunbar's for a drink. The two policemen were well on at that stage and an argument broke out with Dunne when Lenihan bumped into him. In the course of the row, Lenihan shot and killed Dunne.

73326 Pte James Parfitt, Worcestershire Regt, died in King George V Hospital in Dublin, aged 18 of an accidentally inflicted gunshot wound. Parfitt was from Pensnett, Staffordshire where he is interred in St. Mark’s Churchyard.
 
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6 July 1920

The Inspector General of the RIC, T J Smith issued an order that no authorised person be allowed to arrogate to themselves the duties of the police. Any such gathering of Volunteers would be an illegal assembly, the local police should take steps to disperse it and arrest the leaders.

Lt-Gen Henry Tudor sent a memo to John Anderson, Under Secretary for Ireland, asking for permission to recruit up to 500 ex-officers of the British Army for service in Ireland. Anderson gave verbal approval.
 
6 July 1920

The Inspector General of the RIC, T J Smith issued an order that no authorised person be allowed to arrogate to themselves the duties of the police. Any such gathering of Volunteers would be an illegal assembly, the local police should take steps to disperse it and arrest the leaders.

Lt-Gen Henry Tudor sent a memo to John Anderson, Under Secretary for Ireland, asking for permission to recruit up to 500 ex-officers of the British Army for service in Ireland. Anderson gave verbal approval.
start of the Auxiliaries?
 
start of the Auxiliaries?
Such a force has been mentioned before but this was the first concrete step in recruiting them. IIRC they'll officially be launched on 23rd July at a Cabinet meeting. That said in a few days time a man will be killed in Kerry who was described as an Auxiliary.
 
Such a force has been mentioned before but this was the first concrete step in recruiting them. IIRC they'll officially be launched on 23rd July at a Cabinet meeting. That said in a few days time a man will be killed in Kerry who was described as an Auxiliary.
I think the first operation by the Auxilarys was on the 19th September in Kilmashogue in the Dublin Mountains, in the district of Larch Hill against the 5th battalion of the Dublin Brigade IRA an Engineering unit in an IRA training Unit according to the author Paul O'Brien.
 
7 July 1920

Newspaper reports appear that Sgt Reilly, the Crown’s main witness in the forthcoming trial of those accused of taking part in the Knocklong rescue, has disappeared. The trial is postponed.

The men recently convicted in Wexford of the murder of Ellen Morris were transported to Dublin by sea aboard the SS. Vendetta to serve their sentences in Mountjoy Prison. The RIC were unable to travel by road or rail in safety.

Colonel Chaplin, military commander in Derry, issued an order prohibiting all meetings and gatherings within five miles of the city in an effort to quell potential violence on the 12th July

Questions are raised in Westminster about the recent assassination attempt on Arthur Roberts, the Assistant Inspector General of the RIC, and the IRA getting information on police movements from someone in the RIC Office in Dublin Castle.

Lord Denbigh resigned as Treasurer of the Southern Irish Loyalists' Defence Fund when it was revealed that someone in the organisation started a false press story about a Limerick Priest giving indulgences to the IRA for shooting policemen.
 
Watching a very good documentary about the War of Independence at the minute presented by Michael Portillo called “Hawks and Doves”
 
8 July 1920

RIC Sergeant John Reilly, whose kidnapping led to postponement of Knocklong Trial yesterday, walked into the RIC Barracks in Armagh unharmed. He said he was seized by a group of men, blindfolded, and removed to a remote area before his release.

In Sligo, Patrick Begley, whose brother had just joined the RIC, was taken from his car by masked men. They tied Begley to a tree and set fire to the car.

A military patrol in Ballycommon Bridge, Co. Offaly was set upon by a group of armed men, who disarmed one of them and ran in direction of a house owned by Thomas Feery. The soldiers assuming that their assailant was in the house fired through the door, killing the elderly Feery.
 
8 July 1920

RIC Sergeant John Reilly, whose kidnapping led to postponement of Knocklong Trial yesterday, walked into the RIC Barracks in Armagh unharmed. He said he was seized by a group of men, blindfolded, and removed to a remote area before his release.

In Sligo, Patrick Begley, whose brother had just joined the RIC, was taken from his car by masked men. They tied Begley to a tree and set fire to the car.

A military patrol in Ballycommon Bridge, Co. Offaly was set upon by a group of armed men, who disarmed one of them and ran in direction of a house owned by Thomas Feery. The soldiers assuming that their assailant was in the house fired through the door, killing the elderly Feery.
A solider lost his rifle then, pursuing after it they killed a innocent man?
 
9 July 1920

The military turned up at Laytown races to confront ‘Republican Police’ . Some caps and armbands were confiscated but no arrests were made. Meanwhile checkpoints around Dublin City increase as the army makes its presence felt in the suburbs. Swords, Clontarf, Finglas, Ballymun, Cabra, the Naas Road, Chapelizod, Lucan, Rathfarnham, and Booterstown all saw overnight road closures.

The Irish Bulletin published reports of the RIC ‘mutinies’ in Listowel and Killarney on 19th June. Questions were subsequently asked in the House of Commons.
 
10 July 1920

RIC Sergeant John Mooney was attacked in Dungloe, Co. Donegal and severely wounded.

The first advertisements appear in London for the Auxiliary Division of the RIC.



A few years in the future but a related event. 10 July 1927, Minister Kevin O'Higgins was assassinated by three members of the IRA. O'Higgins, who established the An Garda Síochána, signed the execution warrants of 77 IRA men.

 
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10 July 1920

RIC Sergeant John Mooney was attacked in Dungloe, Co. Donegal and severely wounded.

The first advertisements appear in London for the Auxiliary Division of the RIC.



A few years in the future but a related event. 10 July 1927, Minister Kevin O'Higgins was assassinated by three members of the IRA. O'Higgins, who established the An Garda Síochána, signed the execution warrants of 77 IRA men.

Point of order were the warrants lawful and legal according to the laws at the time or was there any reviews
 
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