On the 18th November 1920 – 100 years ago on this date – an aeroplane made an emergency landing in a field near Punches Quarry in Cratloe, County Clare, and word quickly spread in the area that the craft was fitted-out with a machine gun. The British ‘authorities’ heard about the incident, as did the local IRA unit, and the former ordered their man in the area, 2nd Lieutenant MH Last, to organise a platoon from ‘C’ Company, ‘Oxon and Bucks’ (the ‘Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry’ regiment) and get to the site to guard the wreck, which they did and, in an act of bravado (given the times that were in it!) the British forces apparently posted no sentries and built and lit a large fire to make themselves comfortable.

The IRA, too, had arrived on site and a gun battle ensued –
‘1920 Nov 18. A platoon from “C” Company, 1st Battalion of the Ox and Bucks were guarding the crashed RAF plane near Punches Quarry, Cratloe area. They were under the command of 2nd Lieutenant M.H.Last. A group of I.R.A. volunters led by Joe Clancy (Brigade Training Officer East Clare Brigade) had seen the plane come down and got togather an attacking group from IRA men hiding out at Hogans house in Cratloe. Their objective was to capture the aeroplane’s machine gun. After dusk Clancy and his group climbed to the top of Punches Quarry and opened fire at 17.30 on the unsuspecting Ox and Bucks troops who were grouped round a large bonfire that they had lit to keep themselves warm. The IRA said that there were no sentries posted…’ more here.

Meanwhile, the republican PR Department had been busy, too…!


From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, June, 1955.

A series of after-Mass meetings were held throughout County Galway on Sunday, 29th May last, in support of the Sinn Féin candidates for the local government elections. The speakers at all meetings received an enthusiastic welcome and there is good reason to believe that the two candidates selected, Paddy Ruane, Carranmore, and Martin Kelly, Ballygar, will be elected. The sales of ‘The United Irishman’ in County Galway have risen from 4,000 in April to 7,700 in May ; Galway is surely giving a lead to Ireland!

A feature of the Sinn Féin campaign in Galway as in all other parts of Ireland is the enthusiasm and energy of Sinn Féin workers. All who are anxious to help in the County Galway campaign should write at once to the candidates or the Head Office, 3 Lower Abbey Street.

(END of ‘The West’s Awake’ ; NEXT – ‘Fianna Éireann Ard Fheis’, from the same source.)


On the 17th November 1920, a 46-year-old Kerry-born RIC Sergeant, James O’Donoghue, who had 22 years ‘service’ in that particular ‘police force’ and was about to be promoted to Head Constable, was shot dead in White Street in Cork city by three IRA men (Charlie O’Brien, Willie Joe O’Brien and Justin O’Connor) , who were standing in a gateway, waiting for a target that never showed. The IRA unit were about to leave the area when they were spotted by O’Donoghue, who had just left his home at Tower Street, in full uniform, to make his way to the RIC barracks at Tuckey Street, about a half-mile of a walk from his house. According to reports of the incident, the RIC man “came upon” the IRA men and he was shot dead as a result.

The next day – the 18th November (1920), 100 years ago on this date – a gang of masked men, believed to be RIC and/or Black and Tans from the Tuckey Street barracks, forced their way in to the O’Brien house, looking for Charlie and Willie Joe ; they shot Charlie, leaving him for dead, and then shot his brother-in-law, Eugene O’Connell, who died at the scene. The British execution gang then broke into the near-by home of Patrick Hanley and shot him dead, and then turned their guns on his friend, Stephen Coleman, severely wounding him, and a James Coleman was also attacked by the gang and shot dead. An IRA investigation into how the IRA unit had been exposed led the organisation to believe that informers had been at work and three men were shot dead as a result – John Sherlock, ‘Din-Din’ O’Riordan and Eddie Hawkins (whose father, Dan, was seriously wounded in that action).

Incidentally, a week after they killed the RIC man, the Cork Command IRA officially apologised in writing to his family and let it be known that they were ‘furious’ that their Volunteers had taken it on themselves to carry-out that operation. No such apology was issued by the RIC or the Black and Tans.


Confidence in the Garda Siochana continues to erode as more incidents of questionable Garda ‘evidence’ emerge.

By Sandra Mara.

From ‘The Magill Annual’, 2002.

Initially thought to have been a road accident, Richie Barron’s death became the focus of a murder investigation with the McBreartys and their extended family the main subjects of garda attention. The DPP refused to prosecute, but the McBreartys, their family members and staff continued to be the subject of garda attention ; Martin Giblin SC claims that between late 1996 and 1998, some 190 summonses were issued in what is alleged to be part of a harassment campaign by gardai following Richie Barron’s death.

Some of the summonses were issued on foot of statements by garda informers, in respect of after-hours drinking and related matters in the McBreartys pub, ‘The Parting Glass’, and ‘Frankies Niteclub’ in Raphoe. These ‘witnesses’ – garda informers who gave evidence in court – have since been discredited and are themselves facing charges. All 190 summonses were subsequently withdrawn, but in prosecuting the summonses, garda gave evidence at Letterkenny District Court on a number of occasions, and it is in these circumstances that the High Court application to compel the Commissioner to investigate allegations of perjury by the five gardai arose.

A Garda Divisional Circular dated 20th March 1998 from the Detective Superintendent at Letterkenny, and addressed to “each Sergeant, each member/unit/office Letterkenny District” was circulated and signed by Superintendent Kevin Lennon. Entitled ‘Campaign to discredit gardai in Donegal Division’, it stated – ‘The attached is communicated for the information of all members. You will instruct compliance with the terms of this document or briefings of units, sections etc. You will ensure that these instructions are carried into effect…” (MORE LATER.)



Isaac Butt was born in Glenfin, Donegal, on the 6th September 1813. His father, The Reverend Robert Butt, became Rector of St. Mary’s Church of Ireland, Stranorlar in 1814 so Isaac spent his childhood years in Stranorlar. His mother’s maiden name was Berkeley Cox and she claimed descendency from the O’Donnells. When Isaac was aged twelve he went as a boarder to the Royal School Raphoe and at the age of fifteen entered Trinity College Dublin.

He trained as a barrister and became a member of both the Irish Bar and the English Bar. He was a conservative lawyer but after the famine
(‘1169’ comment – it was an attempted genocide) in the 1840s became increasingly liberal. In 1852 he became Tory MP at Westminster representing Youghal, Co. Cork and in 1869 he founded the Tenant League to renew the demand for tenant rights. He was a noted orator who spoke fervently for justice, tolerance, compassion and freedom. He always defended the poor and the oppressed. He started the Home Rule Movement in 1870 and in 1871 was elected MP for Limerick, running on a Home Rule ticket. He founded a political party called The Home Rule Party in 1873. By the mid 1870s Butt’s health was failing and he was losing control of his party to a section of its members who wished to adopt a much more aggressive approach than he was willing to accept. In 1879 he suffered a stroke from which he failed to recover and died on the 5th May in Clonskeagh, Dublin. He was replaced by William Shaw who was succeeded by Charles Stewart Parnell in 1880. Isaac Butt became known as “The Father of Home Rule in Ireland”. At his express wish he is buried in a corner of Stranorlar Church of Ireland cemetery, beneath a tree where he used to sit and dream as a boy.’ (from here.)

On the 18th November, 1873 – 147 years ago on this date – a three-day conference was convened in Dublin to discuss the issue of ‘home rule’ for Ireland. The conference had been organised, in the main, by Isaac Butt’s then 3-year-old ‘Home Government Association’, and was attended by various individuals and small localised groups who shared an interest in that subject. Isaac Butt was a well-known Dublin barrister who was apparently viewed with some suspicion by ‘his own type’ – Protestants – as he was a pillar of the Tory society in Ireland before recognising the ills of that creed and converting, politically, to the ‘other side of the house’ – Irish nationalism, a ‘half way house’, if even that – then and now – between British imperialism and Irish republicanism ie Isaac Butt and those like him made it clear that they were simply agitating for an improved position for Ireland within the ‘British empire’, as opposed to Irish republicans who were demanding then, and now, a British military and political withdrawal from Ireland.

Over that three-day period the gathering agreed to establish a new organisation, to be known as ‘The Home Rule League’,and the minutes from the conference make for interesting reading as they highlight/expose the request for the political ‘half way house’, mentioned above – ‘At twelve o’clock, on the motion of George Bryan, M.R, seconded by Hon. Charles Ffrench, M.P., the Chair was taken by William Shaw, M.R.
On the motion of the Rev. P. Lavelle, seconded by Laurence Waldron, D.L., the following gentlemen were appointed Honorary Secretaries : — John O.Blunden, Philip Callan M.P, W.J.O’Neill Daunt, ER King Harman and Alfred Webb. ER King Harman read the requisition convening the Conference, as follows : —

We, the undersigned feel bound to declare our conviction that it is necessary to the peace and prosperity of Ireland, and would be conducive to the strength and stability of the United Kingdom, that the right of domestic legislation on all Irish affairs should be restored to our country and that it is desirable that Irishmen should unite to obtain that restoration upon the following principles : To obtain for our countiy the right and privilege of managing our own affairs, by a Parliament assembled in Ireland, composed of her Majesty the Sovereign, and the Lords and Commons of Ireland.

To secure for that Parliament, under a Federal arrangement, the right of legislating for, and regulating all matters relating to the internal affairs of Ireland, and control over Irish resources and revenues, subject to the obligation of contributing our just proportion of the Imperial expenditure. To leave to an Imperial Parliament the power of dealing with all questions affecting the Imperial Crown and Government, legislation regarding the Colonies and other dependencies of the Crown, the relations of the United Empire with Foreign States, and all matters appertaining to the defence and the stability of the Empire at large…’
(from here.)

The militant ‘Irish Republican Brotherhood’ (IRB) was watching those developments with interest and it was decided that Patrick Egan and three other members of the IRB Supreme Council – John O’Connor Power, Joseph Biggar and John Barry – would join the ‘Home Rule League’ with the intention of ‘steering’ that group in the direction of the IRB. Other members of the IRB were encouraged to join the ‘League’ as well, and a time-scale was set in which to completely infiltrate the ‘League’ – three years. However, that decision to infiltrate Isaac Butt’s organisation was to backfire on the Irish Republican Brotherhood : the ‘three-year’ period of infiltration ended in 1876 and in August 1877 the IRB Supreme Council held a meeting at which a resolution condemning the over-involvement in politics (ie political motions etc rather than military action) of IRB members was discussed ; after heated arguments, the resolution was agreed and passed by the IRB Council, but not everyone accepted that decision and Patrick Egan, John O’Connor Power, Joseph Biggar and John Barry refused to accept the decision and all four men resigned from the IRB.

Charles Stewart Parnell was elected as leader of the ‘Home Rule League’ in 1880 and it became a more organised body – two years later, Parnell renamed it the ‘Irish Parliamentary Party’ and the rest, as they say, is history (with an interesting tangent along the way) !


From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, November 1954.

At the weekly ceilidhe in Halla Mhuire, Glenn Colm Kille, on 20th October last, run under GAA auspices, the Club Secretary, Séan Heaney, who acted as ‘Fear a Tíghe’, thanked all present for their patronage.

Foreign games, he said, were banned in the GAA because they were the popular outdoor pastime for the British garrisons here in Ireland, and I can well assure you that ceilidhe dancing, such as we have here tonight, was definitely not the popular indoor pastime of the garrisons. No, not likely!

On Sunday night, 17th October 1954, an attack on Omagh Military Barracks by armed men proves that there is yet in our country British garrisons ; our heartiest congratulations to those brave Irish boys who had the courage and daring to face the might of one of her Majesty’s strongholds in our country!

A ban which, in our opinion, should never have been lifted. Bad enough that the invader is here, politically and militarily, without allowing him/her to participate, mingle and eavesdrop on us on the playing field.)

(END of ‘British Garrisons And The Ban’ ; NEXT – ‘Kerry Honours Her Patriot Dead’, from the same source.)


HANSARD 1803–2005 – 1920s – 1920 – November 1920 – 18 November 1920 – Commons Sitting – IRELAND.


HC Deb 18 November 1920 vol 134 cc2072-4

Mr. PENNEFATHER (by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for War whether he had any information to impart relating to the four officers taken by force out of a train at Waterfall, County Cork, the day before yesterday, and carried off in rebel motor cars, and whether, in view of this further proof of the assistance to crime afforded by privately-owned motor cars, the Government would at once prohibit their use in the disturbed areas?

Mr. DEVLIN : “What is a “rebel motor car”?

The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Churchill): “The only information which I have at present is that two Education Officers, Captain M. H. W. Green, Lincolnshire Regiment, and Captain S. Chambers, Liverpool Regiment, and an officer of the Royal Engineers, Lieut. W. Spalding Watts, were captured by the rebels. I understand that Captain Green and Lieutenant Watts might have been witnesses of a murder of a police sergeant and that Captain Chambers was the principal witness against Father O’Donnell, who was arrested in October, 1919, for seditious speeches. Presumably, these are the reasons why they were kidnapped, but I do not know the circumstances of their capture. With regard to the last part of the hon. Member’s question, I think ample powers already exist under the Restoration of Order in Ireland Regulations. Certain restrictions regarding the use of motor vehicles are already in force, and I understand that further drastic restrictions will come into operation on 1st December.”

Mr. TERRELL : “Have these officers been released?”


Mr. DEVLIN : “The right hon. Gentleman brings in the trial, and the statement that Father O’Donnell was arrested for seditious language. For what reason ho dons (sic – ‘he done’?) that, I do not know. Will he state that the court-martial acquitted him of that charge?”

Mr. CHURCHILL : “I did not attach importance to that. I have given the answer specially framed for me in answer to this question.”

Mr. DEVLIN : “Who framed it for you?”

Mr. CHURCHILL “I had no communication whatever with the hon. Member (Mr. Pennefather), and there is no ulterior design behind the framing of the answer.” (From here.)

We also found the following information in relation to this incident :

Capt M H W Green – removed and shot. Capt S Chambers – removed and shot. Lt W S Watts – removed and shot… there were 4 officers in mufti in a 3rd class compartment travelling from Cork (they thought it less conspicuous to travel 3rd class). There were 10 people in the compartment. The officers were en route to Bere Island. The soldiers were Lt R R Goode (inspector of Army Schools), Capt Reedy R.E., Chambers and Green. The train stopped at Waterfall, 6 miles from Cork. 3 armed civilians entered their compartment. Looking at Chambers one of these armed men said “That is one of them” and looking at Green said “That is the other”. Chambers and Green were then marched out with their hands up and were last seen at the bridge over the railway….In ‘The Year of Disappearances’ (link here) the author makes a case for mistaken identity, for the Green the IRA wanted being George Edward Green, and not MHW Green…Watts had decided to travel First Class and was by himself. Reedy only realised Watts was missing when the train got to Kinsale Junction and he could not find Watts…Goode added to his statement that he knew that Chambers had been responsible for the arrest of Father O’Donnell (Chaplin to the Australian Forces) in Oct 1919 for seditious language….Goode also said that Chambers and Green had the previous week been witnesses to the murder of 2 RIC constables at Ballybrack in the course of a railway journey…Goode believed that Green was carrying an automatic pistol, but believed that the others were unarmed…1921 Nov 29- The IRA confirm that the men were executed, but details of their burial place did not emerge… (from here) and these British Army documents also make for interesting reading.

The lesson, whether it should have been learned in 1920 (if not centuries earlier!) or will be learned even at this late stage by those who think they have secured their political future and that of this Free State, is a simple one : ‘Ireland unfree shall never be at peace’.


The 44th successive Cabhair Christmas Swim (1976-2020) will, as usual, be held on Christmas Day at 12 Noon at the 3rd Lock of the Grand Canal, in Dublin (opposite the Kelly’s/Blackhorse Inn building in Inchicore, Dublin 8), but a ‘Plan B’ has been put in place by the organisers to take account of the circumstances brought about by the Covid 19 issue.

There are, as stated in early October on this blog, two possible scenarios regarding this event : it either goes ahead in full ‘party’-type mode ie music, dancing, ‘soup’ for the adults (!), crowds etc etc, presuming that, by the 25th December 2020, Covid will have been dealth with or it takes place in a restrained manner to take account of Covid-enforced social distancing and other common-sense guidelines ie just the ‘bare bones’ – a reduced number of swimmers, one family member with each swimmer, a much-reduced Cabhair Crew on the ground and the public being asked to observe from a safe distance, with no foodstuffs, no ‘lemonade or soup’ (!) , no music etc on site.

What is certain, however, is that, for the 44th successive year, the Swim will be going ahead, in one format or the other!

Thanks for reading – Sharon and the ‘1169’ team.

You working from home? Still going into the job? Working at all? Lost the job because of the Covid lockdowns? Behind with the rent/mortgage? Trying to decide between paying the ESB bill or putting food on the table? No doubt you’ll be delighted to know that those in Leinster House you voted for have no such concerns, thanks to your support for them. We hope you’ll remember that when next they come seeking your support at the next election.

About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
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