Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stories of Athenry and the Irish Civil War 1922-1923 Part 2 : Shot! by Ronan Killeen

The aera where Corporeal Stephen Diviney was shot. The building in the middle was known as Brodericks today it is now Kelly's Chemist and The Fields of Athenry Gift Shop. Although there is a contradiction with the Galway Observer newspaper that he was shot outside O'Neills. I believe it was Kelly's chemist because that was residence of the Brodericks were raiders were shooting into.



On Sunday 1 October 1922, a member of National Armed Forces-Corporel Stephen Diviney who came from the Oranmore district was walking home from a dance in Payne's Hall came across two raiders who had just fired shots into two shops belonging to Messrs. Broderick.
Corporel Diviney was demanded to halt by the raiders, thinking it was his own comrades 'It is all right boys'  and was shot by raiders and the bullet pierced his heart.
   According to the Connaught Tribune:

Before 11 p.m. most people were in their houses or at the dance, either two or four men, who are said to have been armed with rifles, discharged  a number of armed rifles, discharged a number of shots into Messrs. Brodericks chemist shop and also into a public house owned by the same family.

After Corporel Diviney was shot he fell into a pool of his own blood and died within a few minutes. This
was the first time blood had been shed in Athenry before the recent trouble. The National troops immediately
came out onto the streets, searched all likely hiding places, and went to the show grounds and adjoining fields. Thirteen men were arrested and marched to Galway Jail by the National troops. The men that were
arrested were the following:

C. Daly, P.J. Daly, T.J. Daly, M. Ward, M. Kelleher, J. Clancy, Stephen Jordan, T. Regan, and J.Regan.
  Dr.Crowley, coroner for south Galway, opened an inquest on Monday into the circumstances touching the
death of Corporal Diviney. A Sergeant of the National Armed Troops was returning with Corporel
Diviney was called to halt and put his hands up when the incident happened.The inquest adjurned until Saturday 1 p.m. for the attendance of Dr. Quinlan.

At the Railway Hotel, Athenry, on Saturday the adjourned inquest tourching the death of Corporal Stephen Diviney, who was shot dead outside O'Neill's corner, Athenry, was examined by Dr. Crowley-Coroner, Loughrea. Medical evidence was to the effect that the deceased died as a result of a bulet entering the chest over the hear. The Galway Observer on the 14 October 1922 reported:

Sergeant Thomas Creaven, who was in company with deceased, stated that they left the dacne together, and that when near the post office saw two men in front of them. One of the men shouted 'halt' and fired immediately. The bullet struck Coporel Diviney, who advanced a pace, and then fell on his back. The shot followed immediately after the cry of 'halt'.

The coroner was told by the witness said they stopped when challenged, as they had no time to go forward when the shot rang out. In charging the jury, the coroner said it was a callous act to shoot a man because he was wearing the uniform of the National army. The jury brought ina verdict that the deceased met his death from the effects of bullet wounds wilfully inflicted by some person or persons unkonown.
   One famous local Old IRA man- Stephen Jordan was released from Galway Jail were a statement from him was put into the paper:

Sir,---In justice to myself and with a view to preventing the circulation of further lies by busybodies, I beg to state that my release from Galway prison on Saturday last after five days detention was 'unconditional,' otherwise I would not accept my liberty.
   At proper place and time I will give true facts as to the treatment meted out to myself and others during and after our arrest. I should feel grateful for the publication of this letter in you next issue.
STEPHEN JORDAN Co.C. Athenry, Oct 11, 1922

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stories of Athenry and the Irish Civil War 1922-1923 Part 1 : Introduction and Certain Events by Ronan Killeen

On the 6 December 1921, the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed which brought the 'Free State' into being, ending the Irish War of Independence with Britain but provoking bitter disagreement in Ireland itself. By the beginning of 1921.
   Talks between Sinn Féin president and leader of the Daíl-Éamon De Valera and British Minister Llyod George, an offical meeting was scheduled for that December. De Valera suspected that some compromise would be nessary he refused to attend in person.
   The deal brough back by Michael Collins and Arthur Giffith guaranteed self-rule for the 26 counties of western and southern Ireland, but stopped short of establishing Republican rule throughout the whole Ireland. Though the Dáil ratified the treaty by a narrow margin, a group of Republicans led by de Valera remained adamnantly opposed; by June 1922, civil war had broken out between 'Free Staters' and Republicans.

Events in the Athenry Aera fron the Irish Times Archive Online

13/06/1922
Athenry becomes controlled by the National Armed Forces

29/06/1922
The Superintendent and the Staff of the Agricultural College were forced by Irregulars to blockade the road a few miles from the town. The next day the obstructions were cleared.

07/09/1922
Mails from Athenry to Tuam was raided frequently within the past week some letters were taken.

16/09/1922
Three Dublin men were taken as prisoners.

28/09/1922
At 9pm on the 25th of September, a party of troops, under Brigadier Callinan and Captain Thompson, arrested five men in Tarramid, Clarinbridge and compelled them to clear the
roads in the district. The arrested had been prominent in blocking these roads. They were
released on given the usual undertaking. The Five known irregulars were
William Kelly, Coldwood, Athenry; William Commins, Coldwood, Athenry; Thomas Holland,
Derrydonnell, Athenry; Michael Freaney, Derrydonnell, Athenry and John Hynes, Clarinbridge.
They had been arrested on the charge of illegal ammunitions.

03/10/1922
Armed men raided the residence of Mr. Joseph Meldon; Coolarne House, Athenry,
last friday night and, having warned the caretaker that he must not attempt to raise an
alarm. The raiders seized a mare, poney and trap, a set cart hareness, cross cut saws
and other articles.

27/10/1922
Six members of irregulars forces have handed up arms and ammunition at Athenry, Military Headquarters.
They have signed an undertaking not to take part in any way.

Athenry and the Irish War of Independence 1919-1921 Part 5: Other deaths and the burning of the Cricket and Tennis Pavilion by Ronan Killeen

The death of  Tom Egan-Irish Volunteer was believed to be a reprisal for the death of Frank Shawe Taylor.
Below is taken from James Charles Roy's The Fields of Athenry when talking to Nora Egan about
her father's death:

A friend of Dad's warned him to get out but he wouldn't. He hadn't done anything wrong. A week later Sonny (Egan) came into the pub to tell us there was a rumour the Tans were about that night, on a rampage, and later on they showed up at our door.

For those readers around the globe that did not study Irish history or know what an Irish person means by Tans or Black and Tans here is a background history:

In 1919, the British government advertised for men who were willing to "face a rough and dangerous task". Many former British army soldiers had come back from Western Europe and did not find a land fit for heroes. They came back to unemployment and few firms needed men whose primary skill was fighting in war.
   Therefore, there were plenty of ex-servicemen who were willing to reply to the government’s advert. For many the sole attraction was not political or national pride – it was simply money. The men got paid ten shillings a day. They got three months training before being sent to Ireland. The first unit arrived in Ireland in March 1920.

   Once in Ireland it quickly became apparent that there were not enough uniforms for all those who had joined up. Therefore they wore a mixture of uniforms – some military, some RIC. This mixture gave them the appearance of being in khaki and dark police uniform. As a result, these men got the nickname "Black and Tans", and it stuck. Some say that the nickname came from a pack of hunting hounds known as the 'Black and Tans'.
   The Black and Tans were not regular troops. There were many examples of them shooting indiscriminately at civilians as opposed to republican guerrillas. Creameries were also destroyed by the Black and Tans – almost as a way of economically punishing those who may have been helping the IRA. Those experienced in trench warfare fighting a seen enemy, were of little use in Ireland. The Black and Tans were so poorly disciplined and trained for Ireland that their casualty rate was far higher than could have been imagined when the government first advertised for them. The government in Westminster quickly realised that they were a liability as even public opinion in mainland Britain was appalled by a lot of what they did.


Nora Egan's conversation in The Fields of Athenry continued:

Mary Jane and I were upstairsin our room, over the bar. Dad was in the kitchen reading a newspaper. Mother answered the knock and it was the soldiers. They said, 'Who's in the house?'. Mama said no one.
   They barged into the kitchen.'Who is this man?' they asked. 'My Husband,' she replied, and they went for him to take him out the backdoor. But my mother God rest her soul, ran to the latch and threw the bolt, because Hanlon had been taking out to the back of his home just a week before and shot, supposedly because he was running away.
   And Mama said, 'You'll not make a John Hanlon of him.' So a sergeant, he had three stripes on his shoulder, grabbed my mother with one hand, holding her back, and shot my Da in the temple, then again in his throat. Another Tan let off his rifle, and the hole was still in the wall for years.

  'Mama collapsed then on the floor. The smoke of the sho smothered her. The Tans went outside, shooting their rifles in the dark. I was the first to comed down--I was thirteen at the time--and my father was lying on the floor gasping.
   Mama came to hersel, we lifted him up, Mama said an act of contrition in his ear, then he died. We laid him back on the floor in his own blood, which was pouring out the doorway. Mama got a mop and tried to clean it up. We couldn't go out. The Tans were going mad, shooting everything in the night. We couldn't go for help and no one could come into us.
   Imagine from half past ten until the next morning. Mama and us girls alone in the house with poor Da stretched dead on the floor, and the Tans, twelve or thirteen of them, all drunk and sleeping on the straw in our barn.
   Mary Connolly, at half seven, was the first to come to us at next day. None of the lads dared come, and neither did the priest.We had Da on the floor until Monday night because the man with the coffin was too scared to come. Finally Michael O'Brady brought up a box from Athenry on a cart. On Tueday we had mass in the house, on Wednsday at 4 p.m he was buried.

We had to go thorough Moor park, Shawe Taylor's place, to get to the graveyard and we had to pass the Tans who lined up on the avenue. They were firing shots in all directions. When we got him in the ground it was dark, and coming home we were all frightened to death. It was a terrible, terrible time.
   How Mama got through it I will never know. We children couldn't sleep  for Mama's crying for Daddy, and every week or so there would be a banging on the door at night, and Mammy going down in the dark to let the Tans in.  
   They would take whatever they wanted, Mama had us all sleep in the far room, not over the bar, so stray bullets couldn't come in from below. Really, no one could stop them. We would say the rosary every night for Daddy, I lived on the understanding Daddy was in heaven, and so did Mama. Bill Fahey, one of the lads on the run and a fine person and all once came by and said to my mother 'I'm going to have revenge for Tom' but my mother said 'We will let the dead rest, now'. I have to raise my family'. I really don't know why she didn't drop dead from it all the poor woman. [sic]

Another Irish Volunteer, Bill Freaney met his death inside the Cricket and Tennis Pavilion in June 1921. Freaney, Jack Mahon and Martin Ruane wanted revenge for Tom Egan's death. They went to Castle Lambert and tried to burn it down but it failed beacus of bad petrol.
   The three men went to the Cricket and Tennis Pavilion. Bill Freaney was down in the cellar and while the other two men were over head and they called 'everyone out'? They believed everyone was out and set the pavilion on fire. Ruane and Mahon told the story to Nora.

So it went on for six months until a truce (in the Black and Tan war) was called. Bill Freaney was then exhumed. They could do it then you see as the Tans couldn’t interfere then you know. I remember the Sunday well. It was after last Mass in Athenry – half eleven Mass. I’d be fourteen now. I was at Mass and they put the little box into a full length coffin and I can see Mick O’Grady there and the two horses and the hearse and I couldn’t say how many men were outside and they had the green, white and gold (flag) and black armbands and they all marched to Willmount to bury him there-Nora Egan on the death of Bill Freaney.

Bill Freaney died on the 30 June 1921 in the Pavilion fire and he is now buried with a grave  'The grave of the unknow warrior' is engraved on to the grave. On the 25 October 1921 Dr. Quinlan of Athenry recieved compensation of  £700 for the burning of the Cricket and Tennis Pavilion.The Truce is called on the 6 July 1921.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Athenry and the Irish War of Independence 1919-1921 part 4: Trouble on the railway by Ronan Killeen

On the 31 May 1920 at 5pm, a military lorry which was guarded by soldiers arrived at the Broadstone Terminus with five cases, stated to contain eggs and glasses, which was to be sent to Athenry by the night mail train leaving at 7:30pm. Ten minutes before the train departed-a number of members of the National Union Railwaymen approached the station master ten minutes before the departure of the train, and informed him that the train will not run unless the cases were removed.
  The station master at once saw the officer in charge of the soldiers, the railwaymen in the meantime refused to continue loading the mails. After brief words between the stationmaster and the officer, three cases were moved and it was found out that they had rifles in them. The train departed one minute behind time.
    About three weeks later 25 June 1920 at Athenry yesterday morning ten policemen with arms arrived by the Galway train en route to Tuam. Their luggage would not be loaded on the Great Southern train, but the policeman took their seats. The engine driver refused to proceed while the police were on the train, and traffic on the Great Southern and Western Railway was dislocated between Athenry, Claremorris and Sligo.

   The next incident reported in the Irish Times was on 25 June 1920 when the Athenry and Claremorris train purposely stayed in their own stations. The Dublin mail train that had reached Athenry noticed that there were armed police on the train, once the driver noticed this he refused to go any further with the train. Passengers were then taken to Galway by motor car.
   On 25 June 1920, ten policemen (Royal Irish Constabulary) with arms and luggage, arrived by en route  to Tuam. Their luggage would not be loaded on the train but the policeman too their seats. The driver
refused to proceed, while the police were on the train and the traffic on the Great Southern Western Railway
was dislocated between Athenry, Claremorris and Sligo. On the 22 December 1920 the Railway Strike finally ended.

In a memoir of Padraig O Fathaigh's War of Independence he writes:

'When being put on the Galway train at Athenry three members of Killeenen Irish Class (Tess Walsh, her brother Paddy & and another Killeenen boy) happened to be passing by when Tess shouted 'Oh look, who they have arrested' and she ran up to the carraige 'Oh see the way the brutes have his hands tied'. 'Keep her back, Keep her back!' came the order and the RIC formed a chain with hands and rifles in front  of the carrige.
   'I'll go in spite of ye' said the girl as she tried to break through and after two or three efforts succeeded. The RIC in the carrige tried to push me back, but I too succeeded in reaching the door for a shake hands. As the train began to move the girl shouted 'Your reign will soon be ended' whilst Paddy Walsh and the other other boy hooted the RIC. 
   It was thus a school girl defied the minions of Dublin castle, but it was this spirit that prevailed in that period.'

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Athenry and the Irish War of Independence 1919-1921 part 3: Other Events by Ronan Killeen

This is a timeline from the Irish Times Archive
01/12/1919:
The County Court Judge Doyle K.C, at Galway on Monday, made the following award to the applicant for compensation of criminal injuries to Patrick Tyrrel, Knockbrack, Athenry for £40 and costs and expenses, for gunshot wounds received when a shot was fired into the house of his father employed by Major Hall.

24/04/1920:
John Fury, M.Joyce and Michael Glynn (sen) were arrested and charged for purchasing rifles.

14/05/1920
Mail car from Athenry to Loughrea was held up at Poolnabooney at 2 a.m. and a boy containing letters from Athenry to Craughwell taken.

27/05/1920
At 10:30pm a steward living in the Athenry district received a letter, warning him if he had not left his employment within three days he should abide by the gun.

05/06/1920
11:30pm two shots were fired into a house in the Athenry district. Stones also thrown through the windows. No person was injured.


22/06/1920:
Four police cyclists that were protecting a farmer got ambushed by a body of armed men, who ambushed them on the road, on Sunday. One of the policeman was shot in the leg and another policeman was disarmed. Other police in the party escaped uninjured.
   Two arrests were made yesterday-Michael and Patrick Burns, farmers sons, Newcastle, Athenry and conveyed to Galway under heavy military escort to await trial on charge of shooting constable O’Brien, who received several shots in the leg, while accompanying Mr. W.Hutchinson and his bodyguard of four armed policemen on bicycles passed a certain point on the road, gun shots were fired, and Constable O’Brien, who brought up the rear, fell wounded. Immediately a group of men crossed the well and took the carbine fro the other constable, there after disappearing in the adjoining fields. No shot was apparently fired at Mr.Hutchinson, who is a landowner at Ballybane, Monivea.

Athenry and the Irish War of Independence 1919-1921 Part 2: Funerals, Arrests and Inquests by Ronan Killeen

do.= same as

The funeral of the late Mr. Frank M. Shawe-Taylor, J.P., who was shot dead at Coshla on March 2 while motoring to Galway fair, took place from his residence at Moorpark, at 3 o'clock on Friday 6 March 1920 to Athenry.
   Large numbers of tenants in adjoining districts, the people of Athenry and the gentry from all over the county attended the funeral. The Rt. Rev. Dr. Ross, Prostestant Bishop of Tuam, presided at the obsequies in the church at Athenry, the officating  clergy men being the Rev. J. F. Cannon Bery, Galway, the Rev. Radcliffe D. Roe, Athenry, the Reverand J. C. Trotter, Ardrahan.
   Dr. Ross with great emotion referred to the late Mr. Shawe-Taylor, and condemned the murder:

'I shall speak no word of bitterness. It is out of place here in the presence of God and of death.
T here is none more truly pitiable in all this land to-day than those men here and in other places who are moving about among their fellows unknown to the law for what they have done but known to God, and known with awful conspiciousness to their own consciences. They must live henceforth face to face with the fact that they have dipped their hands in a brother's blood. Thay are murders, and they are all the more ??? (??? ink blot on the context)  because they have not yet been discovered.
Conscience must ever be for them like some hideous ulcer full of burning and torment.'

Dr. Ross went on to pay a tribute to the deceased gentleman. They were there that day, he said to mourn for a great loss. Mr. Frank Shawe-Taylor was a strong and vigourous personality, and a useful member of society; and their hearts went out in the deepest sympathy to his widow and his family in the tragic bereavement that had fallen so suddenly upon them.
   In addition to the immediate relatives, the following were amongst those who attended the funeral; Lord Ashtown, Lord Clonbrock, Major Persse, Major Hall, Mr. J. M. Meldon, General A. Lewin, Mr. T. F. Lewin, Mr. Nicholas Coen, Colonel Concannon, Mr. R. Joyce, Mr. Pierce Joyce, Very Rev. Cannon Canton P.P., Athenry, Rev. Fr.  Lynch, C.C., Athenry, Rev Fr. McGough, C.C., Rev. Burkitt, Athenry, Mr . J. Blake Ballyglunnin, Colonel Chamier, Renomre, Mr. Cecil R. Henry, J.P. Tuam.

The Rev Father Lynch strongly denounced the murder as 'a cold-blooded, brutal, inhuman, and callous crime.'  He condemned at both Masses in Athenry on the Sunday previous. Preaching at 11 o'clock Mass, the Father Lynch said:

'There is no need for me, my dear brethen, to call your attention to the brutal murder perpetrated in our vicinity in the early morning of Wednsday last. I am not going to associate any paticular district with this foul, inhuman crime, nor to make any reference to the motives wihc may have prompted and instigated it. I am  only concerned that broad daylight fact that murder was committed.
   I now emphatically say that under no pretext what-so-ever, adn for no motive, can the callous, cold-blooded crime on the high road at Coshla be justified, for it is a direct violation of the law of God. Murder is one of thos abominable crimes for which there can never be any execuse. The taking of a human life belongs to God alone and to every legitimately constituted authority, and no man, no combination of men, can usurp God's right by killing his fellow-man or by inflicting upon him a mortal and deadly wound.'
   As a priest with God's moral law my guide, authority, and sanction, I condemn in the strongest manner possible the cold blooded, brutal, inhuman and callous crime committed near the way-side inn at the extreme end of this parish. In doing so, I believe I am only feebly expressing your condemnation of it, too, for every right thinking man who believes in God, Knows that murder is a crime against God, a crime against religion, a crime against the murdered man and his family, and a crime against society.
  The murder violates religion, violates charity and violates justice. The murder robs his victim of the highest earthly good he possesses, for he takes away his life, and deprives him of the opportunity of preparing himself for death, and gaining merits of eternity.
   Thank God, this parish has been singuarly free from such a crime in the past, and I hope and pray that never again, will such brutality be brought so near to our doors. It pains every reasonable, religously-disposed, man even to think that murder would be ever committed. Human feeling revolts against the thought.
   Every Nation on the earth abhors murder and punishes it with exceptional severity, generally by the execution of the criminal Divine Justice, too, punishes it not in this life but also in the world beyond the grave. In this life the murder can find no rest anywhere; he is a fugitative and a vagabond like Cain, his prototype. He is ever haunted by the blood of the murdered man, which always cries to Heaven for vengeance.
   Should he not repent of his crime, his next life will be ever so miserable for ' Murderers shall never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.' Their portion shall be in the pool of burning fire and brimstone. God frequently punishes the sinner in the way that he has sinned. 'All that take the sword shall perish by sword. Who ever shall shed man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed'
   Retribution will sooner or later overtake the murderer, should he escape the law he is punished otherwise. I pity the man who is guilty of the murder, and branded with such infamy, and I hope that before too late he will repent of his crime and make all possible reparation.


Five farmers' sons had abeen remanded in custody on the charge of murdering Shawe-Taylor, D.L. of Coshla, on March 3. The accused men were the following:
Thomas Holland (24) Lisheenkyle; Martin Ruane (32) do.; Thomas Connell (28) do. ; Patrick Kelly, Carranduff (22); and Michael Kelly (18) do.
    District Inspector Gilhooly, Athenry , stated, that on visiting the scene of the tragedy, he saw blood on the road and also the cart that was used as an obstruction to stop Mr.Shawe-Taylor's motor car on the day he was shot.
   Inside the wall he found eight cartridge cases which had recently been empited, tobacco, and a piece of packing case with twins whcih had apparently been tied around a boot. Evidence of arrest was given by Sergeant Tahaney.
   A special court in Galway was held on 12 March 1920 before Mr. Justice Kilbridge, R. M.., the following five arrested for the murder were remanded in custody for the assaination of Frank Shawe-Taylor on 3 March 1920. All the accussed men were farmer's sons. One of them wore a bandage on his head in the dock. They assume a nonchantalant air, and were defended by Mr. L. E. O'Dea-solicitor.A group of relatives friends and the general public witnessed  the proceedings from the Public Gallery

A small escort of police were in the court, and the prisoners were conveyed to and from Galway Jail by an armed escort of six men. District-Inspector Gilhooly, Athenry, called Sergeant Tahaney, who confirmed the following statement:

In consequence of a complaint made to me at the Athenry Barracks on the 3rd inst. I went to Coshla,and there I saw two pools of blood on the road, a little more to the right---that is, to the North side. There was on the left hand side of the road a wooden gate, resting up the ass cart and wheel. The obstruction practically blocked the road, leaving a passage at the left or southern side.
   I found eight empty cartridge cases which had been recently discharged inside the wall about eleven yards from the pool of blood: also close on a plug of tobacco. About sixty yards from the pool of blood, I found a piece of twine round it, which had apparently been tied round the sole of a man's boot.
   I found footprints on the road which showed that the boots had been covered with sack-cloth or canvas. I followed similar tracks going in the direction of Lisheenkyle from the sea. The last place I found these tracks was in a grass field in the toownland of Barretspark. This was as far as I could trace them at the grace field. I then went to Lisheenkyle, and I arrested three of the defendants  whom I now see present; Thomas Holland, Martin Ruane, and Thomas Connell, all of Lisheenkyle.
   I charged them with the murder of Mr. Shawe-Taylor at Coshla about six o'clock on the 3rd inst. I cautioned them. Thomas Connell said 'Wait till I go up to the end'. He was then working a pair of horses ploughing. Later on at his own house, he said, 'If I was dead and buried I would still be arrested'. I also arrested Martin Ruane on the same charge , and he said, 'I will go when I change my boots and clothes.'
  Thomas Holland said 'Can I go to the house to change my clothes?' He was working a pair of horses ploughing in a field'.

The sergeant added that a remand was necessary to enable him to make further enquires and complete them ---Mr. O Dea did not cross-examine. Head-constable Dolan, Athenry, confirmed a deposition made upon the arrest of Patrick and Michael Kelly of Carranduff:

In consequence of certain matters which came to my knowledge, and which I intend to embody in a future depositiion.

He cautioned both prisoners. Neither of them made any statement. He applied for a remand.---Mr. O' Dea did not cross-examine---Prisoners were remanded

World War I Unveiling by Eoin O' Neill

Reference: https://www.google.ie/search?biw=2277&bih=983&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=rtLAW5bZPOuOgAb8jrqACg&btnG=Search&q=wo...