Thursday, April 28, 2011

Stories of Athenry and the Irish Civil War 1922-1923 Part 5: Raids, Robberies and Executions by Ronan Killeen

Got from the Irish Times Archive online

On the 5 August 1922 the Irish Times reported that  'Two houses had been raided in Ballygurrane, Athenry, and half a dozen boys, arming themselves with a pitchfork and a single shotgun with one cartridge, lay in ambush for the raiders the following night. They duly arrived. The single cartidge was exploded 'hands up' was called from each side of the road, and the raiders found themselves with the fork prongs around there throats. They were deprived of their weapons and were marched to the Railway Hotel, Athenry,where they were handed over to the National Troops.

On the 14 December 1922 the Athenry Post Office was raided. The Sub-Postmaster J.M. Lee was entertaining friends in the kitchen of the post-office and a knock came to the door. There were four armed and masked men the leader of the raiders told the staff to put up their hands who demanded the keys ordered the Sub-Postmaster to show him where the money and the stamps were.
    They took £282 odd, and £170 in cash. The stamps and postal orders were also taken. After the raiders left the Postmaster of Athenry Postoffice reported it to the National Troops stationed at Athenry Railway Hotel and to the civic gaurds on the same street (More than likely Cross Street because that would have been previously an RIC Barracks).
    There was no trace of the raiders to be found but investigation did pursue. Other statements about the event mentioned that it was not four but seven men. This was not the first time for the Post-Office to be raided it had been raided in  April 1922.'

In the next case there is many conflicting accounts with the Irish Times newspapers:
On Tuesday 24 1923 the Galway Correspondent for the Irish Times wrote 'A raid occured at the Munster & Leinster Bank, Athenry, at 4pm. They had hired a motor car from Mr. J. Cunniffe. Athenry Branch for manager for Mr. W. P. Higgins. The hirer of the car told the staff he wanted to bring to girls to Loughrea while the other two men went into the bank.
   A woman named Ms. McLoughlin saw the two men go in to the bank and Mr O'Kelly Lynch said it was after hours when the event happened. Miss McLoughlin had been working in a stationary shop which led to the bank and immediately noticed that the door was locked against her.
   After three minutes the raiders got away. The motor car Cuniffe had hired was outside of the bank and was just after refershments with the third raider soon after the two men emerged with the stolen money.
   Ms. McLoughlin shouted at Cuniffe that raid had just happened at the time and he asked where were the two girls that needed to be driven to Loughrea. Cuniffe refused to take the two men in the motor vechicle and warned them that 'If you do not go quickly you will be caught' . The raiders ran away but one got caught by a civic gaurd.
   The captured raider exclaimed to the Civic Gaurd that he was attached to the military at Ardrahan, and that he was permitted to go free. Shortly, Rev. Father Lynch, Captain Curran, the Gaurds  and  25 soldiers were split up into small parties on cars and bicycles.

Then, at 6 o'clock in the evening Captain Curran and Sergeant Major Hargrave came across two men that were walking along the banks of a river three miles from Athenry. The found the stolen sum of money and two Webley revolvers in execellent conditon which were of the Royal Irish Constabulary patter.
   The two raiders were Joseph O'Rourke, a servant boy from Ardrahan and the other raider was Joseph Murphy from Cranagh, Gort (Later in the Irish Times it gives Murphy an address of Coxtown, Ardrahan)
 who was originally a Liuetenant in the Republicans at Renmore, Depót before it was burnt down.
   When the prisoners were brought to Athenry Military Barracks they declined  to make any statement and on the the following morning Wednsday 25 May 1923 they were escorted to Tuam.

The Irish Times Tuam correspondent gives a conflicting account of the event stating that 'The raiders where captured at Moyvilla after Captain Curran fired at them. The haversack the two men had contained £687 13shillings and 11 pence'.

O'Rourke and Murphy were court-martialed and were found guilty at the military tribunal on the 24 May 1923 and found guilty of an armed raid, stealing from the Munster & Leinster Bank and in possesion of arms with out proper authority.
   In 1922 the PUBLIC SAFETY BILL came into the coutnry what this ment was if you bear arms against the Free-State or under suspicion with out proper authority, you could be court-martialed and executed depending on the crime.
   It turn's out the case had no connection to politics at all. There possesion arms made them liable to extreme penealty of death. On Wednsday 30 May 1923 O'Rourke and Murphy were executed at Tuam Barrack at 8 o'clock in the morning. The third raider had got away.

In my own research of executions I can't find any others after these two men were executed.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Stories of Athenry and the Irish Civil War 1922-1923 Part 4: Cermons and Speeches by Ronan Killeen

Archibishop Dr. Thomas Gilmartin Tuam (Source got from:

On the  2 March 1923 Archbishop Dr. Gilmartion of Tuam made references to the immortality and crime on his treminal visit to Athenry during the Irish Civil War:

We know that a first condition of serving God is to keep his commandments; and yet men daily dare to float his commandments. The commandments are not a tyranical yoke. They only prescribe the what is nessary for the well being of the individual and the stability of society.
   'Though shall not steal'- If that commandment was not made by God, it should be made by every form of civil government. 'Though shall not kill' - If that commandment was not made by God, it would be one of the first laws enacted by every state. In fact the fundamental duty is to protect life and property.
   Now these two commandments are generally accepted by pagans.But how are they observed by Christians? Or, to bring things nearer home, how are they observed by the Irish Catholics? Thirty years ago a murdered in Ireland would fill the whole nation in horror. Today it is commonplace.
   No doubt the history of Ireland is abnormal. The people never got a fair chance of exercising their virtues of freedom and civilisation. It is said that a worm will turn and it is not in the nature of man to submit tamely to greviances. But, grevainces can never be an execuse for crime. The test of man's christianity is submission to God's law under provacation.
   If all comes to all a Christian most- a Christian must renounce every temporal good- even into life itself- rather than sin gravely among the Commadments of the living God. You may kill an unjust aggressor rather than to kill you, but outside this cause it is not lawful for any individual or body of individuals to take it on themselves to kill the most notorious criminals in the world.
If it is the crime of murder for the individual, say, a notorious murderer,how much more a crime is it to kill a defenceless citzen ? Now in the parish, there are a few spots stained with this crime, and if at present the parish is free from murderers, they are not far away. The last year has witnessed two awful murderers in a neighbouring parish.
  In the most recent case, a good religous man was shot dead on his way to morning Mass. The only assignable motive for this horrible crime is greed for land. Any land got through murder will  be a field of blood. It is a thousands times better for a man to have no land to possess brond acres with stained with human blood which will not sink into earth but like the blood of able cry to heaven for vegence on a murderer.
  There are of course very few who are capable of committing the crime of murder but there are a great many who do not condemn it in their hearts.
   Now while the state looks to exterior acts, God looks up to the heart. We should be judged not only what we do and what we think. The state can only forbid external acts; God's commandments forbid forbid the corresponding interior acts. Hence, a man who approves or councils or even indirectly encourages murder participates in the guilt.
   Again, there are men with whom the taking of life in any form find no sympathy but they have no scruple about helping themselves to other people's property when they can do  so with (impunity/impurity?). They will not put their hands straight into their neighbours pocket, they will rob banks and post offices, or raid private houses in the dead of the night. Worse still, they will burn down houses which they are unable to rebuild. Such acts, all violations of the seventh commandment. 
They have all malice and injustice.
The Clergy in Murtagh Farragher  PP Athenry and Martin Healy, Kingsland, Athenry PP were both Pro-Treaty during the Irish Civil War. On the 15 April 1923 which was reported in the Connaught Tribune that Frank Fahy, T.D. at the Athenry Republican meeting:

 'In the election bitterness might arise, he said, but he would rather let the Free State win without a contest than see a divided army, see Irish men who fought side by side turn their arms against one another in fraticidal strife.
   He had, however, too strong a faith in the good sense of the I.R.A. to fear that such might happen. Capt. S. Jordan, presiding, said the people elected Mr Fahy by the big majority of 9,000 in 1918. Mr. Fahy stood again for the same principles. That meeting would be conducted in an orderly manner. Representives of any section of the people were at perfect liberty to hold their meetings there there in freedom and security from hooliganism, or whatever it might be called, which he was sorry to see had taken placein some parts of Ireland.
   No tactics would be allowed to give a chance for anyone to talk against the movement. He had mobilised the local I.R.A. to attend the meeting, but previously had tod them that any one not in favour of their policy could remain away. Out of 83 men 50 had mobilised.
   Mr. Fahy T.D. said that during the election he did not intend to say one bitter word against those in favour of the Treaty, as he knew the splendid record of some of them, and believed they were honestly doing their best for Ireland. As he believed in freedom of the Press and freedom of speech he hoped those opposed to him would get as patient a hearing as was given him. If the people declaration of the Republic. If the people wished by acceptance of the Treaty to turn down the Republicc he was willing to give place to somebody he was willing to give place to somebody who would better express their changed opinions.
   It was entirely a question to be decided by the people, for the people were their master; but it should not be decided by the comparatively small proportion of the people represented  on the register. Should not every adult in Ireland have a voice in this vital decision? The Treaty proposed to partition Ireland perpetually.
   The people had a right to say that, actuated by fear or any other motive, they accept this Treaty, and he would consider himself bound not to give active opposition to a Government selected on those principles if there was a full and proper register. Personally he was not preparedto admit himself a British Subject . He had a right to those opinions; so had the I.R.A. Neither he nor they would, however, have a right actively to oppose the Government freely elected  by the majority of the people.
    Did they think, asked Capt. Fahy, a settlement based on fea would be permanent? The Dail members advocating the Treaty were perfectly honest,believing that was the best way to retain the Republic. It seemed a strange thing to try to gain a Republic by disestablishmenting the existing one.
If they voted for republican candidates he would not gaurantee ti would ot mean war, but if they were afraid of war they should vote Free State, letting ti be known it was fear or self-interest or business interest that amd them so vote.

Captain Frank Fahy in 1915 he trained his men to secure a Republic and he and his men took the declaration of the Republic in 1916 very serious.

If I have not mentioned in previous articles already those that took part in the rising were the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Cumman na mbán, Irish Citzen Army, Irish Volunteers and of course locals that had no tie to the organizations. They were not known as the I.R.A. until members of these organisations entered Frongoch Internment Camp in 1916 which was the birth of the I.R.A.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Stories of Athenry and the Irish Civil War 1922-1923 Part 3: There goes the Railway Bridge by Ronan Killeen

Breaking of the Athenry and Ballyglunin bridge.

Repairs on the bridge north of Athenry begins.

Athenry and Ballyglunin railway bridge is blown up.

Athenry and Tuam railway line is damaged.

Athenry and Ennis line restored.

Athenry to Limerick train fired at but no ill results.

When the Athenry to Tuam and Sligo railway line had been closed down for three months three hundred
men where thrown out of employment.

No trains between Athenry and Sligo.

Athenry to Tuam bridges blown up again. On Thursday 2 November 1922 the signal cabin at Ballyglunin was burned to the ground.

A goods train is 'held up' at Ballyglunin a goods train from Limerick. It was raided, whiskey and tobacco were stolen. At Athenry the same train was 'held up' again and whiskey and tobacco were once again looted.

Elopement in County Galway by Ronan Killeen

Back in 2013 i printed of a newspaper article from the 19th century it was to do with an 'Elopment' 'Elopment in the County of...