Richard Willis, a carpenter, and his friend Jack Bolster, a painter, sometimes worked together on jobs ; it was on one such occasion that the two men got talking to a British soldier from the military barracks in Mallow, where Willis and Bolster were working.

The conversation ended with the soldier complaining that those in charge of the forty-five strong Mallow garrison were taking a chance by sending out a detachment of thirty Lancers each morning, to exercise their horses for a few hours.

The soldier voiced his fear that the remaining fifteen or so soldiers in the barracks would be unable to prevent the IRA from taking munitions from the barracks should they attack, not realising that the two tradesmen he was talking to were themselves members of the IRA.

The seven IRA battalions in the Mallow and surrounding areas had recently formed, from within their ranks, a ‘Flying Column’, with Pat Clancy in charge. Richard Willis and Jack Bolster contacted Clancy and told him of the conversation they had with the British soldier – they also had plans and sketches of the barracks, and mentioned that other men in their unit knew the lay-out of the surrounding district, having lived in the area since they were born.

Clancy got in touch with Liam Lynch and Ernie O’Malley and a start was made on putting a plan together to raid the barracks for munitions.

On Saturday morning, 28th September 1920 – 102 years ago on this date – Richard Willis and Jack Bolster went to the barracks to continue with the job they were doing there, this time accompanied by Pat McCarthy, whom they introduced to the guards as a Board of Works foreman ; all three were admitted, and all three were armed.

At the same time, Liam Lynch and eighteen members of the ‘Flying Column’ were assembled in small groups in Barrack Street (where the military barracks was located) and six other armed Volunteers were already in control of Mallow Town Hall, a building which the RIC would have to pass should the alarm be raised and the RIC attempt to get to Barrack Street.

The barrack gates opened as usual to allow the thirty or so Lancers out and, once they were out of sight, Liam Lynch walked up to the gate, with an envelope in his hand, and knocked until the guard opened up ; when the gate was opened enough to allow the guard to take the envelope, he was rushed by about twenty IRA Volunteers and held captive.

The other twelve or so British soldiers were quickly rounded-up : a Sergeant Gibbs (‘Service Number 312181’) attempted to lock the door of the guardroom/arm himself with a rifle from the room and was shot dead.

About thirty rifles, a couple of light machine-guns and dozens of boxes of ammunition were removed from the barracks and placed in waiting motor cars which drove off immediately ; the RIC knew nothing of the raid and were not seen that morning.

As they were leaving the barracks, the IRA set fire to a load of straw, hoping to burn the place down, but the fire didn’t catch – the stairs, floors and walls were all made from stone flaggings. The next night, British troops from surrounding areas wrecked and burned Mallow Town Hall and the local creamery, and looted any shop they could get in to.

They were to pay dearly for their presence over the following months, as their own weapons were turned on them by the IRA.


From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, April 1955.

In his oration, Domhnall O Cathain said –

“Yet we survived. Forged was another link in the chain of separatism. The unbroken chain that stretched from Tone to Emmet, to Mitchel, to Clarke, to Pearse, to MacCurtain, to McCaughey ; each link had been forged in sweat and toil, tempered in the heart’s blood of the cream of Ireland’s manhood.

Out of the abyss of darkness and confusion, treachery and coercion, glowed the light of the torch of freedom, dimmed maybe, but still held aloft. The custodians of the torch of freedom have survived the onslaught. They were but few ; ‘if only a few are faithful found, they must be more steadfast for being but a few. They stand for an individual right that is inalienable’ – the clarion voice of MacSwiney rang down through the years.

There was their guide, there was their inspiration. And the timeless watch went on. The light of freedom flickered and faded, blinked and practically died, but inch by inch lost ground was regained. No one will ever realise what toil and tears went into this bitter war of attrition. Inch by inch, minute by minute, lost ground was regained…”



On Tuesday, 28th September 1920 – 102 years ago on this date – the British ‘Chief Secretary for Ireland’, Thomas Hamar Greenwood (pictured, a Canadian-born lawyer and politician, titled by Westminster as the ‘1st Viscount Greenwood PC KC’/ ‘Sir Hamar Greenwood BT’) was somewhat put on the spot and in a bit of a dilemma, don’t-you-know, because of his ‘iron fist’ approach to ‘the troublesome Irish’ who, in their own country, Ireland, were fighting back against the political and military injustices imposed by the English Crown and its military and political forces in Ireland. The cheek of them…

Mr ‘Sir’ Greenwood was aware of criticism from some opposition politicians in regards to the scum hounds that had been put in a type of British military uniform and let loose in Ireland to ensure ‘law and order’ – the ‘Black and Tans’/Auxies’, and ‘concern’ about issues of their brutality had been raised in the British ‘House of Commons’. He replied to all such criticism by denying that any actions of reprisals or the like by the Tans/Auxies was happening and that reports suggesting otherwise was propaganda from republican/dissident sources.

However, at the same time that he was in ‘The House’ dismissing such ‘propaganda’, he was briefing his Cabinet colleagues on the true state of affairs in Ireland ; he told them that the upsurge in what he termed as “retaliation” by the Tans/Auxies in Ireland was “unfortunate” and that it was an issue which required “very delicate and sympathetic handling in view of the provocation that the police (sic) have received” (this same character claimed, in December 1920, that “Sinn Féin rebels and the people of Cork” had burnt down their own city after it had been destroyed by British forces!).

One of Mr Greenwood’s political colleagues, Hugh Richard Heathcote Gascoyne-Cecil (! – aka ‘1st Baron Quickswood PC/Lord Hugh Cecil’) also considered ‘the Irish problem’ as something to make light of and poke fun at : his contribution to the reprisals issue was to declare that “…it seems to be agreed that there is no such thing as reprisals, but they are having a good effect..” Posh, Ignorant, Gormless and Smarmy bastard.

Another one of the ‘PIGS’ of the day, ‘Sir’ Cecil Frederick Nevil Macready (pictured, who is on record for stating that he loathed Ireland and the Irish more even than he hated the Germans) wrote to ‘Sir’ Henry Wilson outlining a plan for official reprisals saying that “where reprisals have taken place, the whole atmosphere of the surrounding district has changed from one of hostility to one of cringing submission..”

Tally-ho, Nevil. Is that how you and yours done things in India?

And, finally, around the same time that the ‘Sirs’ and ‘Barons’ named above were spoofing and joking about the Irish, a Mr CA Walsh, the then ‘Deputy Inspector General of the RIC’, issued a circular entitled ‘Alleged Acts of Reprisals by Police and Soldiers’, saying that said actions “deprecated the destruction of buildings, but that use of weapons when threatened was only legitimate self-defence…”

It also stated that it was the duty of the RIC “…to hunt down murderers by every means in their power..”, and that “..the police (sic) will be fully supported and protected in the discharge of their duties by every means available”.

And that’s why “every means available” was used to remove them from this country, although they still have a presence here, politically and militarily. For now, anyway.


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.

Such positive sentiments ring hollow to the hardliners in North Belfast’s Protestant enclaves. They are utterly convinced that their communities, having fought the war to a stalemate, are now being defeated by stealth. And they are insistent that a fightback must begin.

“In 1969, John Hume stood behind a barricade in Derry with a brick in his hand, saying that was the way forward for the nationalist people,” Andy Cooper says in Glenbryn, “Well, this is the way forward for the Protestant people thirty years later. These are our civil rights. Now we have to fight.”

(END of ‘Divided Loyalties’ ; NEXT – ‘The British Story’, from ‘Magill Annual’, 2002.)


Jer O’Leary (pictured) has become bannermaker to the radical and labour movement. Brian Trench reports on the growing recognition of his art.

From ‘Magill’ magazine, May 1987.

What Yorkshire is seeing this month, New York will see later in the year – the bright, sometimes brash work of Dublin bannermaker Jer O’Leary, occasional actor (happily typecast in the role of Big Jim Larkin) and general operative with the Eastern Health Board.

A small sample of the 120 banners he has done over the past decade are included in an exhibition of banners on show at Huddersfield Art Gallery up to May 9th. O’Leary himself participated in a symposium of bannermakers in Huddersfield on the last weekend of April. It was his first encounter with bannermakers en masse.

There are no more than a handful in Ireland who treat it as a serious professional and artistic job and no more than one or two who do this work, as O’Leary does, primarily for the labour movement and radical campaigns…



A Free State ‘law’ which would see ’emergency measures’ officially (as far as the State was concerned, anyway) introduced in the then new State was not adopted due to the apparent opposition to it by, among others, Michael Collins.

Mr Collins was shot dead during a gunfight on the 22nd August, 1922, thus removing the main opposition to the proposed “emergency measures to restore order..” proposal, politely referred to by its supporters as ‘The Public Safety Bill(/Resolution)’. Republican gamekeeper-turned-Free State-poacher William T Cosgrave stepped into the void left by Collins and showed that he was every bit as ruthless in ‘dealing with republicans’ as the British had been.

It took Cosgrave and his fellow Staters a little over one month to sign into State ‘law’ their ‘executions policy’ document, and same was acted on and sanctioned on the 28th September 1922 – 100 years ago on this date :

‘This decree, which facilitated the Government’s executions policy…(was) sanctioned on 28th September 1922. It was hoped that the resolution would halt the Irregulars’ guerrilla campaign and end the Civil War.

Following the ratification of the emergency resolution the Government, as will be established, altered the implementation of this decree as circumstances dictated. Initially it restricted the application of the executions policy to Dublin, executing a total of twelve men in ten weeks. The inaugural executions, which involved putting to death four low-ranked (sic) Irregulars on 17th November 1922 (Peter Cassidy, James Fisher, John Gaffney, and Richard Twohig), were surrounded by controversy.

Critics maintained that this event was a test case to facilitate the execution of a more prominent anti-treatyite, Erskine Childers, one week later. It was also claimed that both the Provisional Government and the British Government had a vendetta against Childers which ensured his capture, conviction and death regardless of crimes committed…’ (from here.)

Incidentally, that ‘executions policy’ document was known as ‘The Public Safety Bill/The Public Safety Resolution’, but no such ‘Bill’ or ‘Act’ can be found in the legal records of the Free State ; the then Leinster House political administration was in place between January and December 1922 to make sure the ‘Treaty of Surrender’ was implemented and actually had no ‘legal’ right under that Treaty to enact new legislation without (British) royal assent, the King being represented in the person of the Governor General.

Therefore, ‘The Public Safety Bill/The Public Safety Resolution’ was merely a resolution of the Leinster House administration (and was only retrospectively ‘legalised’ by that institution in August 1923 by a vote of 41-8)!

The then incoming fumble-in-the-greasy-till Staters were so eager to establish their fiefdom that even their own ‘laws’ couldn’t stop them.

Sleeveens then, and now.


…1888 :

James Jagoe was born in Cork on the 28th September 1888, into a Protestant family.

At 25 years of age, he joined the ‘Irish Guards’ as a reservist where he came to the attention of a Lieutenant Colonel (soon to be a Brigadier General) named Charles Fitzclarence, a Kildare man, who recommended that young James (all 5ft. 11 inches of him) should join the ‘Irish Guards’ proper, which he did, becoming number 3499 of the 1st Battalion of that British regiment.

Military records from that period show that he was discharged on the 5th August, 1914, having “being called to the colours in time of war”, and that he deserted on the 17th April, 1915. Better late than never that he copped on to himself.

But two of his ‘Irish Guard’ colleagues didn’t – William Hutchinson (‘6778’), born in 1888, was a Lance Corporal who died on the 28th September 1915, and ex-RIC member Arthur Keating (31) (‘6289’) who died in France on the 28th September 1915.

Sad. Enough said.


…1899 :

An RIC ‘Sergeant’, Thomas R West (40), died on the 28th September, 1899, from enteric fever/typhoid.

He was from the Offaly area, and joined that ‘police’ grouping (‘Service Number 43381’) when he was 18 years of age, and ‘kept the peace’ in Counties Down and Cork. He was given his ‘sergeant’ stripes on the 1st February, 1899.


…1919 :

On Sunday, 28th September 1919, four (armed) IRA men – Ben Hickey, Leo Murphy, Jeremiah Scanlan and Dan McCarthy – were waiting outside the Church in Berrings, in County Cork, for two (armed) RIC members to come out. The intention was to disarm them, and to send a message to that type that they cannot expect to have right of passage in Ireland ‘in the service of the crown’.

The plan was that the first RIC member to exit would be tackled by Ben Hickey and Leo Murphy, with Jeremiah Scanlan and Dan McCarthy to take care of the other RIC member.

The first RIC man exited quickly and was on the footpath before there was any sign of his colleague – Ben and Leo were scuffling with him, the noise of which alerted his colleague who, by now, was also on the footpath. Jeremiah Scanlan and Dan McCarthy drew their weapons and threw their RIC man to the ground, taking his revolver, which he didn’t resist.

The other RIC man managed to draw his revolver and fired one shot, which hit no one. Ben and Leo shot back at him, seriously wounding him. They then took his gun and all four Volunteers made good their escape.


…1921 :

On the 28th September, 1921, a 30-year-old factory worker in Cleeves Creamery in Tipperary Town, William Corbett, was returning home from a visit to the cinema at about 7.30pm and met up with a few friends outside ‘Evan’s Picture Palace’ for a chat.

A gunfight between the IRA and British Army soldiers had taken place in that area between 8pm and 9pm in which a BA member, Cooper, was wounded, as was a 19-year-old woman, Helen Tierney and an IRA man, Joseph Cahill, who was shot in the thigh.

At about 9.30pm, an RIC patrol was passing the ‘Picture Palace’ and moved towards William Corbett and his friends, shouting at them to put their hands up. The men were startled, and William thought it safer to get offside, so he ran into the building and up the stairs, closely followed by an RIC member named Monck, who fired a shot at him.

William was hit in the shoulder and head and died at midnight that same evening. An ‘inquiry’ was held on the 29th and Monck was found “to have fired lawfully under extenuating circumstances.”. William Corbett was described as “an industrious, inoffensive man without political association.”

He is buried in Behigullane Cemetery in Dunmanway, in County Cork. His wife, Catherine, later received £1,320 in compensation.


…1921 :

On the 28th September, 1921, at about 5pm, a Mr John Orr, a plater by trade, who lived at Number 84 Derwent Street in Belfast, was walking through the junction of Donegall Street and the Falls Road when a shot rang out and he fell to the ground.

He had been hit in the abdomen and died soon afterwards.


…1921 :

Three-year-old Mary Esther Weldon was out with her mother, Christina, on Wednesday, the 28th September, 1921, a few yards from their home in Lower Clanbrassil Street in Dublin city centre.

A British Army lorry drove into them, fracturing Mary Esther’s skull. She died at the scene.


…1921 :

On the 11th February, 1921, a 20-year-old man from Newbiggan By Sea, Northumberland, in England, Charles Dixon, enlisted in the British Army ‘Royal Artillery’ battalion and later transferred from that Unit to the ’55th Royal Field Artillery’ Unit.

He was shifted to Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland, ‘to serve queen and country’ in September, 1921, and was in the BA Barracks in Dundalk on the 28th of that month when a colleague of his was cleaning his gun when it went off. The bullet hit Private Dixon and he was dead within five minutes.


…1922 :

Edward Noone (pictured), who worked as a builders labourer in 1922, decided to join the new Free State Army that year and enlisted in the ‘Dublin Guards’ (‘Service Number 56438’) and was on guard duty at Rathmore Court House, in County Kerry (near the Co-Operative Creamery building)with three FSA troopers who – as luck would have it for them – were off-duty and unarmed.

FSA Sergeant Noone had learned his soldiering trade in the British Army and survived same, but was out of luck on this occasion – he was standing in the middle of an IRA attack (by about 100 Volunteers) on Rathmore military barracks when he was hit. The gun battle in Rathmore lasted about an hour before the IRA retreated.


…1922 :

In September, 1922, the Staters in Leinster House sent their paid mercenaries into the Inchigeela, Ballingeary, and Ballyvourney areas of North-West Cork “to rout the Irregulars” and the FSA ‘A Company, 3rd Battalion of the 3rd Cork Brigade’ was one of the State Units tasked with doing so.

That Unit was attempting to round-up IRA Volunteers in the Inchigeela district and one of their armed members, Stephen Donovan, from Kilbarry East, Dunmanway, in County Cork, was on duty near the parochial residence with his colleagues when they came under attack by sniper and machine-gun fire. He was shot dead.


…1922 :

On Thursday, 28th of September 1922, an IRA soldier was shot dead when attempting to ambush Free State forces two miles outside Cork City. The dead fighter was Seán Ó Donoghue (pictured), Acting Officer Commanding of the Cork 1st Brigade, IRA ;

‘Seán Ó Donoghue was born in Gurteeabowl, Mitchelstown, in 1898. Having completed his education he was employed in the warehouse of Messrs. Dwyer in Cork and lived with his aunt in Roches Buildings…he was a member of the Gaelic League, the Lee GAA club, and the Lee Rowing club. At an early age, he joined A company, 1st Battalion, Cork No. 1 Brigade, becoming Quartermaster of the company. He was subsequently promoted to Quartermaster of the Cork Brigade. At the beginning of 1921, he was appointed Commandant of the 1st Battalion…

He was captured by Free State troops while leaving the Delaney Brothers House on Dublin Hill, and was executed shortly afterwards close by…’ (from here.)




Thanks for the visit, and for reading!

Sharon and the team.

About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
This entry was posted in History/Politics. and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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