The Ambush at Dromkeen
County Limerick 3 February 1921
|The churchyard from where Donncadh OhAnnagain's men fired on the second RIC lorry and Volunteer Liam Hayes lost part of his thumb.
Dromkeen is on the Caherconlish - Pallasgreen road, a few miles north of where OhAnnagain was born. The RIC
were returning from Caherconlish when the attack began, at 2.30
pm, as the first lorry reached the fork in the road to Bruff and Old Pallas. The
first lorry hit a wall leaving some dead. The second lorry
came under fire simultaneously alongside the old church. All 'succumbed to their wounds' said OhAnnagain
in a document held at the Cathal Brugha Military Barracks. In fact three were executed, all by Maurice Meade.
|The burial site of the Volunteers killed at Cahirgullamore in December 1920. Were the British at Dromkeen wearing peacock feathers taken from the IRA men at Cahirgullamore, as has become part of the folklore? And was this a factor in the execution of the captured men at Dromkeen?
|OhAnnigain at about the time of the ambush.
The 11 policemen killed were Con Samuel Adams, Con George Bell,
Con John Bourke, Con Michael Doyle, Con Patrick Foody, Con William
Hayton, Con William Kingston, Con Sidney Millin, Con Bernard Mollaghan,
Con Arthur Pearce and Con Henry Smith. Two, the driver and his front seat passenger, escaped. The book - Who's Who in the Irish War of Independence - lists Pallasgreen as the site of deaths.
Local historian Tom Toomey has studied the military records in England. In 2007 he took me on a tour of the ambush sites, including Dromkeem. He stands in the spot where Liam Hayes was positioned.
I TALK WITH TOM TOOMEY AT DROMKEEM
Click here tohear Tom's account of the ambush
Did Maurice Meade carry out executions on O'Hannigan's orders? Tom Says 'yes'.
Who was executed?
According to Tom Toomey it was Constable Adams, who upon being found dying by the British forces told of being 'shot by the Shinners after surrendering', and Constable Foody (or maybe Doyle) that Meade shot dead. They were shot in the field behind where Toomey is standing. The firing began when the second lorry was passing the church and first lorry was within metres of the barricades where the road forked, about 400 metres beyond the church.
The ambush was a joint operation of the flying columns of the
East and Mid Limerick IRA Brigades (some forty riflemen) under
the command of Donnacha O hAnnagain O/C of East Limerick Brigade
Dick O'Connell, O/C of the Mid-Limerick Flying Column and a section leader was also
present. Some time earlier the police had
discovered the arms dump of the Mid-Limerick Brigade. There was
only one IRA man - Liam Hayes - wounded. The I/O of the Mid Limerick
Brigade, John Purcell, had sussed out the travel pattern of the
|Liam Hayes - in his Free State uniform - marries Kathleen Walsh on 7 Nov 1923. Note his left thumb and the glove he wore to cover the amputation.
Local man Sean Buckley offered an alluring account of the oral tradition surrounding Dromkeen.......