Tuesday, May 25, 2021

War of Independence deaths in Kildare or of Kildare men elsewhere in Ireland [3]

The truce which came into effect on 11th July 1921 came approximately four months after the execution by the I.R.A. of Mrs. Mary Lindsey and her driver. The intervening four months saw 14 violent deaths in or about Co. Kildare. Nine days after St. Patrick’s Day Edward Leslie, an R.I.C. man died in the Military Hospital on the Curragh of gunshot wounds sustained in an IRA ambush at Scramogue, Roscommon three days earlier. On 29th March members of the Monaghan IRA Brigade were responsible for shooting dead, during the course of a raid for arms, 60-year-old William Fleming and his 24 year old son, both of whom farmed a small holding of 20 acres. It was one of the many indefensible actions by the I.R.A. during the War of Independence. There is no record of violent deaths in Co. Kildare during April 1921, but in the rest of the country 140 persons were killed on both sides of the armed conflict. Included in that number was Arthur Vicars, the first honorary secretary of the Co. Kildare Archaeological Society who was shot by the I.R.A. at his home at Kilmorna House, Listowel on 14th April. Vicars, who had served as the Ulster King of Arms from 1893 to 1907, had resigned that position following the theft from Dublin Castle of the Irish Crown jewels. It is now believed that the thief was Frank Shackleton, brother of the polar explorer, Ernest Shackleton. It was claimed by the Kerry No. 1 I.R.A. Brigade that Vicars was a spy, thereby seeking to justify his killing and the burning of his house. Included amongst the five women who suffered violent deaths in April 1921 was Catherine Carroll, a 36-year-old single woman who lived in a rural part of north Co. Monaghan with her disabled brother and her elderly mother. Eoin O’Duffy who would later serve as Commissioner of the Garda Siochana until sacked by Éamon de Valera, ordered her execution for alleged spying. On 3rd May Jack O’Sullivan who lived in Kill died while a prisoner in Ballykilner internment camp. He was a member of Kill Company Kildare I.R.A. Brigade and had been arrested following the ambush at Kill the previous August. He was buried in St. Corbans, Naas. Two days after O’Sullivan’s death John Hickey, a 44-year-old farmer of Newtown, Kildare, was found dead on the far side of a trench dug on the road near Newtown. He had suffered a fractured skull, how it was not known. On 16th May 1921 the War of Independence found its first two victims in the Athy area. James Lacey and William Connor, both 26 years of age and from Shanganaghmore, Barrowhouse, were shot and killed during an ambush at Barrowhouse. Both were members of the B. Company 5th Battalion Carlow Kildare Brigade which was based in Athy. With six other Volunteers they prepared to ambush R.I.C. men cycling from Ballylinan R.I.C. Barracks to the nearby R.I.C. Barracks in Grangemellon. I have written previously of the Barrowhouse ambush and most recently in Eye on the Past No. 1371 published on 9th April 2019. The five R.I.C. constables lead by Sergeant John McKale apparently saw a man with a gun in his hand running across a field towards a ditch near the road on which they were cycling. The R.I.C. men took cover and when shots rang out, they returned fire. When the ambush party retreated the R.I.C. found the bodies of the two I.R.A. Volunteers. As was a common feature following attacks on the R.I.C. or the Crown Forces there were reprisals in the Barrowhouse area that night resulting in the burning of Patrick Lynch’s home and workshop and the house of Mary Malone. The neighbouring farm of Martin Lyons was also attacked, resulting in the destruction of a threshing machine and a large quantity of straw and hay. The following day Albert Carter from Carbery who joined the R.I.C. just four months earlier was killed when ambushed in Letterkenny. That same day several R.I.C. constables on cycle patrol were attacked in Kinnity, Co. Offaly. One constable was killed outright and a second wounded. The wounded R.I.C. man was Edward Doran of Cardenton, Athy who died on 19th May. Four further violent deaths were recorded in Co. Kildare between 5th and 17th June. Just four days before the truce Bridget Doran, aged 34 years and her stepson, aged 11 years were burned to death after two men, believed to be I.R.A. Volunteers, during a robbery sprinkled paraffin around the store over which the Doran family lived. No one ever admitted involvement in the shameful and horrendous deaths which occurred at Moorefield, Newbridge. The final Co. Kildare related killing occurred on 8th July when Jack Rossiter, a 57-year-old groom who worked at Maddenstown Lodge, was shot and killed during an I.R.A. attack on the Dublin Cork train in which he was travelling. I understand that Connor and Lacy, both of whom were killed at the Barrowhouse ambush, will be commemorated when covid restrictions are lifted. The information for this and the two previous articles on this subject mainly comes from the superb publication ‘The Dead of the Irish Revolution’ by Eunan O’Halpin and Daithí Ó Corráin. A copy of this remarkable book should be in every Irish home.

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