ON THIS DATE (6TH JULY) 46 YEARS AGO : IRA ESCAPE PLAN FINALISED.
Near the end of 1975, the then British Secretary of State for ‘Northern Ireland’ (sic), Merlyn Rees, announced that as of from March 1976, those found guilty of “terrorist offences” would be treated as “criminals” ; Irish republicans at that time highlighted the issue in question (ie political status) by referring back to the aftermath of the 1916 Rising, when republican prisoners in Dublin’s Mountjoy Jail demanded to be treated as Prisoners Of War, not as “commom criminals”.
The British refused, and a hunger-strike was called – ‘Irish Republican Brotherhood’ leader Thomas Ashe went on hunger-strike and died after being force-fed by the British, which is just one example of many when Irish republicans fought back as best they could against a political regime which was attempting to criminalise them.
In mid-January 1976, the Free State Gardai located what they claimed to be a “bomb factory” in the Donabate area of North Dublin ; five Irish republicans were in Free State custody in connection with that ‘find’ – Jim Monaghan, Donal Murphy, Michael O’Rourke, John Hagan and Joe Reilly. And the leadership of the then IRA wanted those men out.
At the end of June 1976, it became known that the ‘trial’ of the five men would see them together in the one building for a short time during the following month, July 1976 ; the then IRA’s Acting Adjutant General and the Adjutant of the IRA’s Dublin Brigade held a meeting – it was known that the ‘trial’ would be over by mid-July 1976, and it was then the end of June 1976. Things would have to move fast.
However, the IRA GHQ Staff asked if a successful rescue operation could be mounted in such a short period of time and another meeting was arranged ; this was held on 6th July 1976 – 46 years ago on this date – and those present from IRA GHQ Staff asked for detailed plans on how the rescue attempt would proceed. The requested details were handed over by the Intelligence Officer of the Dublin Brigade IRA and discussed between the group, which included the Adjutant of the Dublin Brigade, the Acting-Adjutant General, the IRA Director of Intelligence, the IRA Director of Finance and a GHQ/Dublin Brigade Officer.
Detailed plans of the lay-out of the inside of Green Street Courthouse had been acquired, as had the roster by which the Gardai on duty worked.
The five prisoners themselves had been contacted re the rescue attempt and were prepared to take part in it, so the ‘go-ahead’ was given for an agreed date : 12th July 1976, a Monday, although this was later changed to Thursday, 15th July 1976, for reasons unknown to this scribbler. The plan called for simultaneous action by the five prisoners and the IRA Unit – at an agreed time, the five men were to force their way into the courtyard of Green Street Courthouse (pictured) and run towards the gates, where the explosives were. Seconds before the men were to have started their run, the gates were to have been blown off their hinges by an explosives charge. The confusion caused by the explosion would, it was expected, allow the five men to make it to the cars which would be waiting for them, and then driven to pre-arranged safe-houses.
The explosion at the gates of Green Street Courthouse was to be timed for 1.30PM, lunch-break, because it was known that security would be slacker than usual. On Wednesday, July 14th, 1976, about one dozen IRA men held a last meeting to finalise the next days action ; the Dublin Brigade QM and Engineering Officer, the Brigade Adjutant and the Intelligence Officer were present, and each man re-checked their role in the job. Satisfied that they could do no more, the men went their separate ways. Early on Thursday morning, July 15th, 1976, the plan came together ; the IRA Unit met-up, as arranged, and took up their positions. And waited.
Then, at 1.30pm, a loud explosion lifted the locked gates off their hinges and crumbled most of the walls either side of where the gates had been – at that time, too, the five republican prisoners had broke free from their captors and were running towards the remains of the gates – one of the prisoners, Donal Murphy, was dazed by the explosion and lost his bearings ; he ended up in the actual Courtroom, was recognised and jumped on and held by the Gardai.
The other four escapees – Jim Monaghan, Michael O’Rourke, John Hagan and Joe Reilly – ran into a scene of total confusion ; the gates were smoking and still rattling on the ground, bits of concrete and brick were still flying through the air, a dust-cloud made it near impossible to see more than a few yards and people were running in all directions. The escapees couldn’t locate the get-away cars and made off on foot ; but by now the immediate area was filling-up with Gardai and armed Special Branch and, within minutes, things went wrong : three of the men – John Hagan, Jim Monaghan and Joe Reilly – were pulled-in by the Special Branch on Granby Place and re-arrested.
Meanwhile, the other escapee, Michael O’Rourke, was by now on O’Connell Street getting into a taxi. He was taken safely out of the State and put-up in a safe-house in America, but was arrested in 1980 ; a four-year legal battle began but, in 1984, Michael O’Rourke was extradited to Ireland and imprisoned in Portlaoise Prison. The break-out made international headlines and embarrassed the then Dublin administration, led by Fine Gael’s Liam Cosgrave.
It also proved, once again, to the Free Staters, that the spirit of Irish republicanism cannot be incarcerated.
‘WHETHER SHE WILLS IT OR NOT, ENGLAND NEEDS ULSTER…’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, April 1955.
In any and every crisis Ireland, its people and its resources will be exploited by England, not for the welfare of Ireland, nor for any group or creed in Ireland but for England and the British Empire.
The groups in Ireland enjoying English patronage today have a very unstable patron ; because the patron is rather the master who flicks crumbs to the useful servant. We would warn the useful servant that the crumbs might one day be withheld. The servant then without the right to ask or the might to demand would become an unwanted and unrespected beggar.
To all Irishmen there is one unfailing patron – Ireland, its resources and its people.
(END of ‘Whether She Wills It Or Not, England Needs Ulster’ ; NEXT – ‘Cathal Goulding’, ‘Padraig Pearse’ and ‘Seán Hegarty’, from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (6TH JULY) 115 YEARS AGO : IRISH CROWN JEWELS DISCOVERED ‘MISSING’.
(Or – ‘I turned around and there they were, gone…!’)
The collection consisted of an eight-pointed star of Brazilian diamonds with an emerald shamrock and ruby cross at its centre, and a similar badge of rubies and diamonds as well as a gold harp and crown, all of which were discovered to be ‘missing’ from the safe they were secured in, on Saturday, the 6th of July, 1907 – 115 years ago on this date.
‘The main suspects are long dead, the scapegoat lies rotting in a bitter grave, and brown envelopes have replaced knighthoods as the reward for politically motivated collusion….the men associated with the theft never associated with each other again, and many of them met with grizzly ends. Goldney died in a car crash in 1914. Pierce Gun Mahony — a nephew of Vicars — was shot through the heart in a hunting accident. Vicars was tied to a tree and shot by the IRA in 1921, while Gorges was struck by a train in 1944.
As for the jewels, they were most likely broken up and sold as individual pieces, though there is documentation that the Russians tried to sell them back to an uninterested government in 1927. While the Gardaí dug up areas of Three Rock Mountain, in Dublin, after a death-bed confession by a member of the IRA in 1983, £1,000 was offered as reward for their discovery at the time. It is still unclaimed….’ (from here.)
The man responsible for their safekeeping at the time, ‘Sir’ Arthur Edward Vicars, the ‘Officer of Arms’ of Dublin Castle, wrote, in his last will and testament – “I might have had more to dispose of had it not been for the outrageous way in which I was treated by the Irish Government over the loss of the Irish Crown Jewels in 1907, backed up by the late King Edward VII, when I was made a scapegoat to save other departments responsible and when they shielded the real culprit and thief, Francis R. Shackleton (brother of the explorer who didn’t reach the South Pole).
My whole life and work was ruined by this cruel misfortune and by the wicked and blackguardly acts of the Irish Government. I had hoped to leave a legacy to my dear little dog Ronnie, had he not been taken from me this year….” (from here.)
Not ‘Ronnie’ the pooch – just a depiction of how he might have looked..!
Between Russian involvement (mentioned above), and/or the Irish Republican Brotherhood and/or the part played in the ‘alleged’(?) theft by a homosexual network (!) and/or it being a plot by anti-republican unionists to thwart/highlight the ‘Home Rule’ issue (details here!), we can only hope that Ronnie the pooch might yet get a new headstone from his connection to this nefarious episode – the items have, it seems, been found :
‘…a startling new discovery at Kilmorna House, outside Listowel, indicates the jewels have in fact been recovered by a person or persons unknown..’
The man who found their ‘last resting place’ ‘…was instructed by an informant, with a distinct English accent, to go to the old garden of the house where he found a stone with a Latin inscription which had been removed from behind a brick wall…he believes the stolen jewels…were removed from a box attached to the stone (and) removed at the dead of night because the people who figured out where they were hidden did not want to have to go through the necessary bureaucratic measures to get permission to search for the jewels..’ (from here.)
Well…my next input to this mystery will be to volunteer to look for the items, having enlisted the aid of a few girlfriends. Because, when it comes to jewellery and where to find it, mysef and the Girl Gang know what we’re looking for..!
Ulster loyalism displayed its most belligerent face this year as violence at Belfast’s Holy Cross School made international headlines.
But away from the spotlight, working-class Protestant communities are themselves divided, dispirited and slipping into crisis.
By Niall Stanage.
From ‘Magill’ magazine, Annual 2002.
“Loyalists feel under pressure in places where nationalists keep making statements about how their areas are full and they need to expand”, says Davy Mahood.
“Expand to where? They can only expand into loyalist areas. This is one of the reasons that there is so much trouble at interfaces like Tiger’s Bay or Limestone Road. Nationalists can see houses on the loyalist side empty. There are no nationalist houses empty – they are bursting at the seams. The loyalist perception is ‘they want our area’ “.
The working-class loyalist heartlands suffer from the archetypal social problems of any impoverished neighbourhood – high unemployment, lack of amenities, petty crime and substance abuse. The hardships are just as severe on the nationalist side of the peace line, but both sides seem to believe that, overall, the pendulum is swinging in the nationalists’ favour…
ON THIS DATE (6TH JULY) 76 YEARS AGO : ‘FAMILY OF THE REPUBLIC’ PARTY LAUNCHED.
The political party ‘Clann na Poblachta’ (‘Family of the Republic’) was founded by Seán MacBride in 1946 to appeal to young urban voters and disillusioned republican voters and was officially launched in Barry’s Hotel in Dublin on the 6th July 1946 – 76 years ago on this date.
A few years previously another political party, ‘Clann na Talmhan’ (‘Family of the Land’), had been formed in answer to high levels of frustration and anger in rural areas of the State. For a time the two parties played a significant role in Irish politics before they were both dissolved in 1965.
Ireland in the mid 1940’s was suffering from high unemployment, emigration, poor housing, poverty and diseases such as tuberculosis. The Fianna Fáil administration, led by Éamon de Valera, which had been in power since 1932, had interned Irish republicans and had some executed following trial by military tribunal. When some of the interned republicans were released they formed Clann na Poblachta.
The new party grew rapidly and in 1947 contested three by-elections. They were successful in two, Dublin County and Tipperary. In the State general election of 1948 Clann na Poblachta had high hopes of replacing Fianna Fáil as the largest party in the State but, in the event, despite fielding 93 candidates, they won just ten seats.
Following the election Clann na Poblachta became part of the State’s first Inter-Party administration which was also made up of Fine Gael (31 seats), the Labour Party (14 seats), National (sic) Labour (5 seats), Clann na Talmhan (7 seats) and seven independents. John A Costello of Fine Gael was elected State Taoiseach and all parties were represented in the State cabinet.
Despite the disparate nature of the parties the administration lasted for almost three-and-half years and the State saw a big improvement in almost every area of its economy. During the lifetime of the Inter-Party Government the declaration of the ‘Republic of Ireland’ was made in 1949. Also, tuberculosis was practically eradicated, the ‘Industrial Development Authority’ was established, agriculture was improved with funds from the Marshall Plan and housing was improved.
The administration fell in 1951 following its failure to introduce free health care for mothers and children through the Mother and Child scheme. In the subsequent election Clann na Poblachta secured just two parliamentary seats. The party went into decline and was disbanded in 1965.
*The history of breakaway parties in Ireland is not encouraging for those who may be thinking of staking their political careers on the formation of a new one. Most of the smaller parties which littered the political landscape in the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s either collapsed or merged with larger ones. The first such party was ‘The Centre Party’, formed in 1932 by a number of independent Leinster House members, including Paddy Belton. They were joined later by James Dillon. It was a conservative and pro-Treaty Party (ie – the 6th December 1921 ‘Treaty of Surrender’) and won over 9 per cent of the vote and eleven seats in 1932. In 1937, it merged with the Blueshirts and Cumann na nGaedhail to form Fine Gael.
The next new party was radical : this was Clann na Talmhan, founded in 1938 to represent the small farmers of the West of Ireland. Together with a number of independent farmers’ candidates, it won 10.6 per cent of the vote and 14 seats in the 1943 State general election ; ten of those seats going to Clann na Talmhan. In the general election the following year it won nine seats and, in 1948, seven seats. It entered the first inter-party administration along with Clann na Poblachta, the Labour Party, the National (sic) Labour Party, Fine Gael and a number of independents.
In the next election, three years later (1951) its number of seats fell again, to six. It declined steadily thereafter, winning five seats in 1954, three in 1957 – following which it supported the second inter-party government – and two in 1961. It collapsed in 1965, twenty-seven years after its foundation due to, among other occurrences, the fact that it had a rival political party in the form of Clann na Poblachta, which is perhaps better remembered, although it only briefly had as much support as Clann na Talmhan and did not last as long.
Clann na Poblachta was founded as a radical Irish republican party by Sean MacBride in 1946, and the following year won two out of three by-elections, defeating Fianna Fáil. The State General Election of 1948 marked its high point ; it won 13 per cent of the vote and 10 seats. It too entered the first inter-party (Free State) government, and one of its members, Noel Browne, held the key Ministry of Health.
This provoked the ‘Mother and Child’ controversy, when Browne’s progressive proposals were repudiated by the government, including his own party colleagues. In the next election the party lost heavily, emerging with 4.1 per cent of the vote and only two seats. Even Sean MacBride lost his seat. In 1954, Clann na Poblachta won three seats, but a smaller share of the poll (3.8 per cent). In 1957, the party got 1.7 per cent of the vote and one seat, and this remained its representation in Leinster House until it was wound-up in 1965.
The 1940’s also saw a split in the Labour Party vote : in 1944, the ‘Irish Transport And General Workers Union’ (ITGWU – now known as SIPTU) split from the Labour Party over the latter’s relationship with Big Jim Larkin, bringing five Leinster House members with it to form the ‘National (sic) Labour Party’. The ‘NLP’ won four seats in the 1944 election, and five in 1948, when it too joined the first inter-party (Free State) government. In that administration, it reunited with the Labour Party in 1950.
The split between Noel Browne and Sean MacBride in Clann na Poblachta brought with it the seeds of yet another political party, though these did not come to fruition until 1961 – in that year, Noel Browne, along with Jack McQuillan, formed the ‘National (sic) Progressive Democrats’, which fought the general election and got only 1 per cent of the vote, but it got two seats. In 1963, they joined the Labour Party.
During the rest of the 1960’s, only the three main parties – Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour – were represented in Leinster House. Then the ‘Arms Trial’ produced a crisis in Fianna Fáil and the beginnings of two further parties – the first of these was ‘Aontacht Eireann’, formed by Kevin Boland in 1971 ; he was joined by Seán Sherwin and Captain James Kelly, one of the key figures in the ‘Arms Trial’. But Sean Sherwin failed to retain his seat in 1973, and in 1976 Kevin Boland resigned as leader and the party folded.
Neil Blaney adopted a different course of action. He formed a grouping which he described as ‘Independent Fianna Fail’, appearing as an ‘independent’ in election results. Although there were other candidates on this ticket, none of them was ever elected. In 1977 there was another attempt to form a radical party, again involving Noel Browne : he and a number of prominent Labour Party members split to form the Social Labour Party, with Browne as its only Leinster House member but differences emerged between him and other leading members and when he left Leinster House, the party collapsed.
In the next election, in 1981, the ‘Workers Party’, formed ten years earlier out of a split in Sinn Féin, won a seat in Leinster House after three attempts in the three previous elections. In 1982 it won three seats, with 2.3 per cent of the vote, but lost one in the subsequent election, though its share of the vote remained almost the same.
The only other small party to have won seats in Leinster House was the then Sinn Féin party, which contested the 1957 election on an abstentionist platform and won four seats ; it lost them all in 1961, and did not contest another election until 20 years later, in 1981, when it was heavily involved in the election campaigns of the H-Block prisoners who ran to highlight the Hunger-Strike. Of obvious necessity, they ran on an abstentionist platform and two of the republican prisoners, Paddy Agnew and Kieran Doherty, were elected ; Kieran died on Hunger-Strike, and Paddy Agnew did not run in 1982.
(In 1986, some members left that party to go ‘politically respectable’ and abandoned republicanism for a Fianna Fáil-type political cloak of ‘nationalism’, and a few of those career politicians have become millionaires as a result. Other [Republican] Sinn Féin members stayed true to their political principles.)
(The above is an edited version of a piece we first posted here in 2004.)
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, March, 1955.
A meeting of the County Armagh Committee of the Republican Prisoners’ Dependents Fund was held recently in the INF Hall, in Camlough, to make arrangements for the setting up of committees in various parts of South Armagh.
If this meeting can be taken as a criterion of things to come and the lead given is followed by the rest of the country, the republican prisoners need have no worry about their dependents.
When the meeting opened at 8.30pm with the chairman, Mr. P. McParland in the chair, there was a very representative gathering, including members of the ‘old’ IRA, Anti-Partition League, AOH, INF, GAA and Sinn Féin, along with representatives of public bodies, and apologises were read from a number of people who were unable to be present. The chairman opened the meeting by reading the names of the Central Committee officials, the constitution governing the committee and the raising and distribution of the fund… (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (6TH JULY) IN…
On the 6th July, 1914, the British ‘Daily Mirror’ newspaper published a pic showing armed members of the UVF paramilitary grouping parading through Belfast ; the pic was captioned – ‘In Belfast now fully-armed forces of Ulster volunteers march through the city. Members of the Royal Irish Constabulary look on with interest.’
The pro-British UVF were putting on a display, highlighting the weapons they obtained in April 1914 as a result of the Larne, Bangor and Donaghadee gun-running operations they had organised. Truth be known, the reason why the RIC didn’t intervene was because it was their own members, brothers and/or fathers etc that were parading in front of them.
On the 6th July, 1920, the then ‘Inspector General of the RIC’, a ‘Sir’ TJ Smith, issued a decree to the media and to his troops – “No authorised persons will be allowed to arrogate to themselves the duties of the police. Any such gathering of Volunteers will be an illegal assembly, the local police should take steps to disperse it and arrest the leaders. Military aid may be invoked where necessary”.
Needless to say, the IRA ignored his ‘warning’ and continued to militarily defend themselves and their country.
His failed decree might have had some bearing on the fact that, within five months of him having issued it, he retired from his position with that paramilitary ‘police force’ on two-thirds of his salary. Indeed, between the 1st May 1920 and the 31st July 1920, more than 500 members of that grouping resigned.
Incidentally, the official file on ‘Sir’ TJ is in the British ‘National Archives’ in Kew, London and, when the man retired, his file was sealed for 26 years. That’s just probably ’cause he didn’t want his wife to know how much blood money he was pocketing each week…
Thomas William Foster was born in Holburn, in London, in 1889, ‘matured’ himself into a career in the British Army and was eventually offered the rank of Sergeant with the 45th Battalion of the ‘Royal Fusiliers’ (‘Service Number 129109’)which he accepted.
He ‘kept the peace’ in Russia, among other countries, and found himself in Ireland where, on the 18th May, 1920, he joined the RIC.
On the 7th July, 1920, ‘The Dublin Evening Mail’ newspaper carried an article in relation to RIC member Foster –
‘Found Shot Dead Outside Quarters.
At the Royal Hospital, Kingsbridge section, Dr Louis Byrne, City Coroner, held an inquest today on the body of Constable Thomas Foster RIC, who was found dead in his quarters on yesterday morning from the effects of gunshot wounds. No evidence was produced which would go to show that the deceased had any difficulties.
Dr R. M. Power said he saw deceased, and in his opinion the act was committed during a period of temporary insanity. A verdict in accordance with the medical testimony was returned.’
He was 31 years old when he died, on the 6th July, 1920, apparently by his own hand, and is buried in plot number CE.803 in Grangegorman Military Cemetery, in Dublin.
On the 6th July, 1921, two RIC members – Timothy Galvin and a man named Conway – were on ‘traffic duty’ at the corner of Union Street and Little Donegall Street in Belfast when they were shot (…the immediate aftermath of which is shown in the pic).
RIC member Galvin died and his colleague was wounded. More info here.
On the 6th July, 1921, the O’Reilly home near Newry, in County Armagh, was raided by the pro-British ‘Specials’ and two brothers, John and Thomas O’Reilly, were ‘arrested’ and taken to a farmhouse in Ballymacdermott, in Newry, which was owned by the McGinnity family.
Once there, nineteen-year-old Peter McGinnity was also ‘arrested’ and all three captives were then taken to the nearby town of Altnaveigh, which was known to be a ‘stronghold of the ‘B’ Force murder gang’. The three men were then shot dead. The same group of British assassins then broke into the McQuaid house in Carnagat, in Newry, where a Mr Patrick Quinn was staying in lodgings, and he was also shot dead.
On Wednesday, the 6th July 1921, a group of armed men entered Monasterevin Railway Station in County Kildare and instructed the postman to enter a shed on the premises, which he did. The men locked him in and removed the mailsacks from the railway station.
On Saturday, 9th July 1921, the men returned with the mailsacks and gave them back to the postman ; on examination it was found that the returned letters had been stamped ‘Passed by the IRA’.
In late June/early July 1921, an ‘action audit’ was carried out by the IRA on its structure in the Waterford area and, on the 6th July, the East and West Waterford Brigades were amalgamated, with Pax Whelan as Officer Commanding and Paddy Paul as Training Officer.
Anthony Foody was born in County Mayo in 1873 and ‘grew up’ to become an RIC member – a Sergeant (‘Service Number 56773’) – but he broke all ties with that grouping in 1921 (on the 19th June that year).
Even after he ‘retired’ (‘no such thing as an off-duty cop’!) he continued to find that his name was linked to the ‘Ragg Incident’ ; an RIC member, John Heanue, was shot dead on the 5th March in 1920 following a few words being exchanged in a pub/grocers shop in Bouladuff (‘the Ragg’), near Thurles, in County Tipperary. Three armed men had approached Mr Heanue and his RIC colleague and ordered the two RIC men to put their hands up, but both of them reached for their service revolvers instead and a gunfight ensued. RIC member Heanue was mortally wounded, and the three armed men escaped from the scene.
In apparent revenge for that shooting, a group of armed and masked men called to the house of Tom Dwyer at Bouladuff, near Thurles (his brother, Patrick, was a known IRA Volunteer), and shot him dead, and it is said locally that Anthony Foody was one of those assassins ; on the 6th July, 1921, ex-RIC Sergeant Foody was shot dead on the road between Ballina and Bonniconlon, in County Mayo, and a placard which read ‘Remember Dwyer and The Ragg’ was placed around his neck.
However, it was later revealed that Mr Foody was involved in a local dispute over land and questions were then asked if he had been killed because of that, and that his death, and the placard, was ‘staged’ to look like the IRA were responsible. Even today – 101 years after his death – those questions remain unanswered.
On the 6th July, 1922, the Staters sent about 230 of their soldiers to Wexford to put manners on the (anti-Treaty) IRA, and they placed a Colonel Commandant Tom Keogh (pictured) in command of that mercenary grouping and, as well as the rifles etc carried by them, they were also equipped with one field gun and four armoured vehicles.
Commandant Keogh, a native of County Carlow (he was from Knockananna, which lies close to the border between County Wicklow and County Carlow) was a republican gamekeeper-turned-Free State-poacher, had joined the ‘Irish Volunteers’ in 1913 and, in 1916, at 17 years of age, he had fought as a Volunteer with E Company, 2nd Battalion, Dublin Brigade, as part of the Garrison at Jacob’s Biscuit Factory, Bishop Street, in Dublin, alongside the IRA men and women he was now hunting down.
Himself and Michael Collins were the best of buddies, and when Mick was assembling the ‘Twelve Apostles’, Tom offered his services and was accepted.
On the 16th September, 1922, he was ‘on duty’ in Macroom, in County Cork, with some of his FSA colleagues, when they got word that Carrigaphooca Bridge had been booby-trapped by the IRA ; he was attempting to defuse the device, watched by his colleagues, when it exploded.
Commandant Keogh was badly injured, and six of his colleagues died at the scene – FSA Captain Dan O’Brien, FSA Sergeant William Murphy, and FSA Privates Patrick O’Rourke, Thomas Manning, John Riordan and Ralph Conway.
Colonel Commandant Tom Keogh’s legs were shattered by the explosion, and one of his feet had been blown away from the ankle. He died from his injuries later that same day.
On the 6th July, 1922, Paddy English, from Rehill, in County Tipperary – an IRA Volunteer with ‘K’ Company, 6th Battalion – was on Active Service in Urlingford, in County Kilkenny, and played his part in an attack on the Free State Army barracks in that town, in which the barracks was destroyed and FSA soldiers were taken prisoner.
The IRA Unit then proceeded towards Longfordpass, in County Tipperary and, as they took a break at Mary Willies’ Pub, they were ambushed by Free State forces but fought their way to safety ; they were escaping in the direction of Ballingarry, in that same county, and it was then that Volunteer Paddy English was hit by an enemy bullet. He died within a few minutes.
An IRA Column, of over 100 fighters, comprising Volunteers from South Tipperay (commanded by Mick Sheehan) and supported by Volunteers from the South Dublin Brigade of the IRA (with Andy McDonnell in command), and accompanied by Harry Boland, Ernie O’Malley, Seán Lemass, Paddy O’Brien and other fighters, had taken over the village of Blessington, in County Wicklow, on the 6th July, 1922.
The Staters were in the area, restoring ‘law and order’, and had left their mark in South Dublin, West Wicklow, South Kildare and North Carlow, and moved their attention to Blessington ; over the next two days they captured about 200 Volunteers in that town and in the nearby towns of Brittas and Ballymore Eustace.
Two FSA Privates, Patrick Smith and Patrick Doyle, were killed in that sweep, and four others were wounded.
On the 6th July, 1922, a 15-year old boy, William Saunderson, was walking past Mountjoy Prison in Dublin, when he fell to the ground, dead. Free State troops on top of the prison wall shot him and later claimed that the young lad had been signalling to the IRA prisoners inside the jail. Trigger-itchy Staters, playing with their rifles and getting away with it.
On the 6th July, 1922, the Free State political and military administrations took over Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin for a double funeral.
A Private Patrick McGarry, who died on the 29th of June 1922, was one of the men buried and a Private Thomas Hogan (22), from County Carlow, who died on the 30th June 1922, was the other one. FS Private Hogan was killed in an ambush at Aughnagan, in County Wexford.
Free State Army Adjutant John Keenan, from ‘C Company’, Dublin Guards Regiment, who lived in 10 South Earl Street, in Dublin city centre, was in nearby Vicar Street when he was shot in the head and died at the scene. The FS grouping he belonged to consisted mostly of republican-gamekeepers-turned-Free-State poachers.
Francis Balfe was born on the Roscommon side of Athlone in 1896 and was ably employed as a mechanic before joining the Free State Army.
He was part of a convoy of State Troops that were being transferred from Carrick-on-Shannon to Boyle, in County Roscommon and, just before they reached their destination, they were attacked by the IRA.
He died from a bullet wound to the heart.
Free State Private Patrick Smyth (19), from Sarsfield Street in Sallynoggin, County Dublin, was a member of FSA 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade and, on the 6th July, 1922, he and his colleagues took on an IRA unit near Blessington, in County Wicklow. He died in Saint Vincent’s Hospital, in Dublin, on the 7th July 1922, and is buried in Deansgrange Cemetery, in Dublin.
Thanks for the visit, and for reading.
Sharon and the team.