Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : Travel Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

 

 

Come out you Black and Tans

The Battle of Dromkeen

In December 2007 I walked the same ground where Donncadh OhAnnigain and the Limerick boys ambushed the ‘British’ enemy at Dromkeen in County Limerickat 2.30 pm on 3 February in 1921. Along the way I spoke with Michael Fitzgerald of Caherconlish about the attack.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iN33MPq-Slw

OhAnnigain was in the command post at Power's Cross, where the stretch of road hits a Y bend. About 150 metres back up the road, the second lorrie - carrying eight Tans - was in the vicinity of the old cemetery when it was raked with fire from Maurice Meade’s group of Volunteers in a barn on the bend and the clusters of men in and near the cemetery.

The place where the second RIC lorrie came to grief. At the far end of the road is McCarthy's.

It was during the exchange at the cemetery that Liam Hayes had his finger and thumb severed, a consequence says local historian Tom Toomey 'of friendly fire’. Tom who has studied the military records at the archives in Kent has a forensic eye for what happened. The eight men in the second lorrie didn't have a chance. Two - Adams and either Foody or Doyle - were to die from Meade’s gun, executed after being captured. Another had earlier been shot by Meade upon surrendering. He was ‘treacherous’, explained Meade in his memoirs.

Liam Hayes on the day of his marriage to Kathleen Walsh in November 1923. Note the state of his hand and the Free State uniform.

At Power's Cross it was mayhem as the driver, Constable Cox, and his front seat passenger District Inspector Sanson tried to negotiate the roadblocks set by OhAnnagain’s Volunteers. As the lorrie tilted and crashed, throwing the three men in the back to their death the driver and the DI made their escape. The fact that they were dressed in civilian clothes gave them all the respite they needed. Thinking they might have been civilians dragooned by the ‘Tans' the Volunteers were loathe to fire on them. They managed to escape, and Cox returned to Dromkeen many years later to revisit his astounding escape.

Tom Toomey at the spot where Liam Hayes lost his finger and thumb.

Tom Toomey has no doubt that Constable Adams was the man who survived Meade’s bullet to the neck. Taken into McCarthy’s house, Adams was alive long enough to say ‘The Shinner shot me and I had my hands up’. Does this however raise the possibility that he was the man under the lorrie and that Foody and Doyle were the executed men? All three had the wounds to the back of the neck consistent with an execution. In a poignant moment Mrs McCarthy wrote a letter to Mrs Adams on behalf of her dying son.

The O'Connell house in Caherconlish.

In the aftermath of the ambush a cluster of houses - Commandant Dick O'Connell's was one - in the district were burnt to the ground by the British. As much as Andrew Bolt and his cronies might like to misrepresent my comparisons between the resistance of the Volunteers in Ireland and 'defenders of the homeland' in Iraq, the comparisons are irresistible.

No, I'm not supporting suicide bombers in Iraq when I say Donncadh OAhannigan would have fought back if he were living in Iraq. In Ireland in 1921 IRA Volunteers were labelled subversives and 'Shinners'. The Shinners - supporters of the Sinn Fein party - had won 80% of the vote at the 1918 election standing on an 'independent Ireland' platform. Andrew Bolt needs to spend a bit of time reading history!

In 1996 I made my first trip to Gallahue's pub in Ballylanders - the village where OAhannigan's Volunteers had attacked the RIC barracks during the War of Independence. The barracks was on the corner opposite where the monument seen in the movie below now stands.

MOVIE...MOVIE

Click HERE for a taste of BALLYLANDERS -CRAIC....MUSIC.

 

 

The plaque on OhAnnigain's house.

 

The executioner, Maurice Meade, in old age. Trained by the British in the Great War and as brutal as any General. But he was so brave.

If any relatives of Constables Adams, Foody and Doyle or anyone else involved in Dromkeen Ambush do come across this site I would love to hear from you.

philcleary@bigpond.com

 

 

 


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