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.'

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