ON THIS DATE (18TH MARCH) 99 YEARS AGO : ‘BURGERY AMBUSH’ INITIATED.
“…it is very difficult to describe this as an ‘ambush’ in the strict sense of the word, as there were several smaller engagements within the main attack and, furthermore, the main attack did not take place at the position planned, but was just a hurried interception of British Forces, and shortly beforehand the Volunteers did not know that there was going to be a fight.
In order to interrupt communications between Cloncoskerine, which was a military post, and Dungarvan, it was decided, on the 18th March (1921), by the Abbeyside and Dungarvan IRA Companies, to demolish Tarr’s Bridge. The A.S.U. were to act as a protection party for the demolition squad. Earlier that night, 5 members of the A.S.U. had gone to Dungarvan to attack an R.I.C. patrol, which they did and, after an exchange of shots, they withdrew, and rejoined the main body of the A.S.U. at Ballycoe as previously arranged. While they were discussing about the demolition, motors were heard and their lights were seen coming from Dungarvan and going in the direction of Cloncoskerine. This was about 11.30 p.m. It was learned afterwards that there was a hostage in a lorry and that they were going, not to Cloncoskerine, but to Garranbane, where they arrested a Volunteer. With the A.S.U. at Ballycoe were the demolition party from local companies, armed with pickaxes, crowbars etc.
When the enemy lorries were observed going towards Cloncoskerine a hurried consultation took place between the IRA officer at Ballycoe Cross and, as it was nearly always the custom of the enemy not to return by the same route which they had taken going out, it was thought that the enemy would return by Ballycoe, and for this reason it was decided to place some of the A.S.U. on the road at the Burgery, and the remainder took up position on the Military road at Ballycoe.
At about 2.30 a.m. on the morning of 19th March, the enemy party (20 men, 1 officer) which consisted of a Crossley tender and a motor car were returning, it was seen that, on arriving at Tarr’s Bridge, they took the main road into Dungarvan. The Volunteers at Ballycoe proceeded with all haste to join their comrades at the main road at the Burgery.
Before they reached them, fire had been opened on the leading car by the party already in position, while some of those who came from Ballycoe attacked the lorry, others rushed to the attack of those in the car (which) had proceeded, after being attacked, a short distance towards Dungarvan, and then stopped. The occupants got out, and returned to the assistance of those in the lorry.
Fighting took place on the main road, and the enemy retreated and then ran pursued by some of the Volunteers and were caught after a short chase. Among those captured was O/C enemy troops in Dungarvan – Captain Thomas and also an R.I.C. Sergeant named Hickey, who had been acting as a guide, as well as some private soldiers.
Hickey was afterwards shot, as he had been warned on a number of occasions previously to refrain from certain activities and he had failed to do so. Meanwhile the enemy in the Crossly lorry had given up the fight and had retreated across the fields, leaving behind them their lorry and some equipment. The lorry and the car were then destroyed…at Kilgobinet it was decided to send back a number of Volunteers to the scene of the ambush, to collect any arms, ammunition or equipment left behind in the darkness during the fight of the night. They proceeded across country, and were approaching the Burgery when fire was opened on them by an enemy party that had come to try to retrieve what was left of their transport.
The Volunteers were now in an open field without any cover, whereas the enemy were lined on the road firing from the cover of the fence. The Volunteers returned the fire and a sharp fight took place, until eventually the enemy retreated back to town. During the fighting, Sean Fitzgerald, Captain of Killrosanty Company was killed, and Pat Keating of the Comeragh was wounded. When Keating was hit, George Plunkett left his position while still under heavy fire and carried Keating to some cover. It is interesting to note here that Plunkett did a similar brave act, when, during Easter Week, 1916, he dashed out of the G.P.O. and went to the assistance of a British officer, wounded during the fighting.
Their first concern now was to have Pat Keating attended to, and this was done by two ladies of Cumann na mBan. He was taken to Monarud, where he received medical aid from Dr. Hackett of Dungarvan, but he died later that evening at about 5 p.m. Considerable enemy reinforcements now arrived from Waterford City, with armoured cars and lorries, and carried out widespread searches in the district, but by then the Volunteers had gone to the safety of the Comeragh Mountains.” (From here, by Domnall O’Faolain.)
One of those present, IRA Volunteer Jack O’Mara, stated that, after the capture of RIC Sergeant Hickey… “..our party, consisting of ten or twelve men, halted at Kilgobnet, where the officers held a council of war to decide the fate of Sergeant Hickey…a court martial ensued and because of his activities in assisting the British to hunt down I.R.A. men he was sentenced to be shot. Sergeant Hickey was taken away by others up the boreen…and was never afterwards seen alive…” After he was executed by the IRA, a sign stating ‘Police Spy’ was fixed to his uniform. A local priest made arrangements for his body to be placed in an unmarked grave which was owned by his fiancée’s family at St. Mary’s Church in Dungarvan in County Waterford.
The tough times that were forced on Irish republicans by the British and their Free State proxies left republicans with no choice other than to meet force with force.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, December 1954.
‘The Manchester Martyrs’ were fittingly commemorated in Ladysbridge, County Cork, at 3.30pm, on Sunday, November 21st last. A parade of very large dimensions, led by the Cork Volunteers Band, Cork City Fianna Éireann, Cumann na gCailini and Cumann na mBan, and consisting of a Colour Party drawn from the Cork No. 1 Brigade IRA, the East Cork Manchester Martyr’s Committee and the various City and County IRA units.
The following Sinn Féin Cumainn were also present – Cumann Daithe Ceannt, Cumann Mick Fitzgerald, Cumann Tomas MacCurtain, Cumann Brian Dillon, Cumann Tomas Aghas and Cumann Joe Murphy. Those representatives of the local national bodies and the general public marched from the monument in Ladybridge to the grave of Captain Willie Cox, IRA, and here a wreath was laid on the grave of a worthy successor to Allen, Larkin and O’Brien. The ‘Last Post’ and ‘Reveille’ was sounded by buglers of Na Fianna Éireann as the Brigade Colours dipped in salute and slowly rose again to flutter in the gentle breeze.
After this simple but moving ceremony the parade marched back to Ladysbridge to the strains of ‘The First Cork Brigade’. On approaching the Manchester Martyrs Memorial, the Cork Volunteers Band played the ‘Dead March’ and the parade slowly moved into position in front of the Monument, where Miss Kitty O’Callaghan, representing Cumann na mBan, recited a decade of the Rosary for the repose of the souls of the three Martyrs.
A wreath was placed on the Monument, the ‘Last Post’ and ‘Reveille’ were sounded by buglers from Na Fianna Éireann and then Tomas Foley, representing Cumann Dáithí Ceannt, Sinn Féin, announced the speaker Michael McCarthy… (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (18TH MARCH) 99 YEARS AGO : “ONE CONSTABLE DIED FROM HIS WOUNDS..”
On Friday, 18th March, 1921 – 99 years ago on this date – an enemy foot patrol consisting of seven armed pro-British ‘policemen’ were ambushed in the Cork village of Castletownroche. One of their number, ‘Constable’ William Elton, from Middlesex in England (RIC reference 76391; LDS 2094/140B/71220), who was two weeks away from his 24th birthday, was badly wounded in the attack and died the next day.
‘A large party of Volunteers under the command of James O’Neill ambushed a police patrol (consisting of one sergeant and six constables) at ‘The Close’ in Castletownroche on 18 March 1921. Constable William Elton was mortally wounded and died on 19 March. His colleague Constable Crowley was wounded in this attack. Former Volunteer John C. Regan, who had fought with the Castletownroche Battalion column, provided a detailed account of this incident :
“About mid-March 1921 I moved with Tim Fay, Jackie Sullivan, Jimmy O’Mahoney, and Danny Shinnick of the column into Castletownroche to ambush a patrol of Tans and R.I.C. which moved regularly about the village each night. We were assisted by representatives of the Castletownroche and Killavullen companies, who performed scouting and outpost duties.
It was proposed to open fire on the patrol when it reached the gate of ‘The Close’’— this was the name of a house which marked the end of the area usually patrolled. It was within 60 yards of the RIC post (and) Jackie Sullivan, Tim Fay, and Jack O’Brien were in prone position at the gate of ‘The Close’, while some of the locals were posted in various other positions. The scouts who were to report the position of the enemy returned to the gate of ‘The Close’ while they were being followed by the enemy patrol. This apparently made the enemy suspicious and they called on the scouts to halt. The party at the gate then decided that it was time to open fire and did so. Two of the patrol were wounded and the others escaped to the barracks. One of the members of the patrol died from wounds.”
The wounded man was, as stated, ‘Constable’ William Elton, who had worked in his own country as a labourer before he joined the British Army ; he left that branch of the Crown Forces to join a different contingent of same – the RIC – in Ireland, in around late December 1920. He died, in a country foreign to him, about three months later, at 23 years young. For ‘King and Country’, or otherwise in the service of imperialism, it was a self-inflicted waste of a young life.
ON THIS DATE (18TH MARCH) 38 YEARS AGO : SUNK BY HIS OWN ‘STEPPING STONE’.
Paddy Smith (pictured) was born near Bailieborough in County Cavan on the 17th July, 1901 and, at 16 years young, joined an IRA flying column. Within three years he was one of that organisations youngest Commandants. He was active during the 1916 Rising and was captured by the British in 1921 and interned, then charged with ‘treason’ (a death sentence) but was released in the ‘Treaty Truce’ of 1921. He took the republican side in the resulting split, stating that Collins and the other ‘negotiators’ did not push their case hard enough – “They (Collins and his team) gave us stepping stones but they would not walk on them.”
However, in 1926, when de Valera left republicanism and founded the Fianna Fáil party, Smith also abandoned those so-called ‘stepping stones’ with dev and withdrew from republicanism, into the new party. He remained a Leinster House politician for Fianna Fáil until 1977 and died, as a solid FF man, on the 18th March, 1982 – 38 years ago on this date. His funeral oration was delivered by the then newly-elected Free State ‘Taoiseach’ Charlie Haughey, who, like Paddy, ‘had done the State some service’ .
ILLEGAL ARMS : IN BAD COMPANY…
A man suspected of being one of the world’s biggest dealers in illegal weapons was a director of two companies based in Ireland.
By Annamarie Comiskey.
From ‘Magill’ magazine, July 2002.
One of Leonid Minin’s Irish companies, ‘Limad Invest’, was set-up by Irish formation agents in 1996 for a firm of UK accountants. The agents then sold the company back to the accountancy firm in 1997, a standard practice at the time. Minin and Irina Najda Sylam then took over as company directors. Leonid Minin now joins other international undesirables, such as Marko Milosevic and Victor Bout, who found it useful to use Irish companies ; Marko Milosevic, son of Slobodan Milosevic, had several ‘brass plate’ companies in Dublin, and allegedly used them to launder the proceeds of his illegal trade in drugs and tobacco, and Victor Bout from Tajikistan, the UN claims, was at the centre of an international illegal arms smuggling ring that used Renan Airways to fly cargos to Africa.
Renan Airways used aircraft owned by Balcombe Investments Ltd, a Dublin-registered company, but the named directors of that company, which was dissolved in the year 2000, denied, in 2002, any knowledge of the activities of Renan Airways. Garda sources say that Europol or Interpol has never requested the force to assist in an international investigation related to illegal arms deals and money laundering. When it is so easy to check the directorships of companies registered here, it is surprising that the Garda is not tempted to have a look.
‘Brass plate’ companies have brought Ireland into disrepute ; the same year that Leonid Minin’s companies were dissolved, the government started to crack down on companies set up by non-residents… (MORE LATER.)
‘THOUGHTS AFTER OMAGH…’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, November 1954.
The freedom of Ireland is worth every sacrifice that we may be called on to make ; so thought the greatest and best of all past generations, and so think the young men and women of today. New leaders have arisen in Ireland, inspired with the cause of justice and right ; Ireland will be free and undivided, and will be prosperous. Her people will be industrious and happy ; the seed buried with the dust of our dead leaders has come to its miraculous ripening – Ireland be proud. Rejoice!
Eight men were arrested after the Omagh Raid – they have left dependants. Will you help to provide for these dependants and thus give the greatest comfort you can to the prisoners? Subscribers and those willing to become collectors should write to : An Runaidhe, An Cumann Cabhrach, c/o United Irishman Office, 94 Seán Treacy Street, Dublin.
(‘1169’ comment – unfortunately, there are still republican prisoners, and they have dependants. If you can help, financially or otherwise, please note that that POW aid group have since changed their name and their address and you should now contact Cabhair at 223 Parnell Street, Dublin 1. Thanks!)
(END of ‘Thoughts After Omagh’. NEXT – ‘Resurgence’, from the same source.)
Thanks for reading, Sharon.