Military Raid on Sinn Féin H.Q
From Bureau of Military History Witness Statement 414, Eibhlin Lawless, Secretary to Michael Collins
While we were in No. 6 the police and military made a raid on the premises, looking, I suppose, for wanted men. We bed no warning of this raid at all. Mick Collins was in our room, also Fintan Murphy, Diarmuid Hegarty, Jenny Mason and myself and, possibly, Kitty O'Toole, who joined the staff with Fintan. Bob Conlon was there definitely. Ginger O'Connell bed come in to see Mick and as he left the room he forgot to close the door, which Mick remarked on sarcastically. I was getting up to shut it when I saw a policeman standing on guard, outside. I shut the door arid told Mick it looked like a raid. At that stage we discussed what we were going to do. I think only Mick Was armed. It any of the others were the girls took the arms from them. I stuck Mick's revolver down my stocking and anything else incriminating we girls took charge of. The police seemed to start the raid systematically from the bottom up thus giving us time to take these precautions.
When they arrived, we had disposed of everything and they found nothing of any importance. They searched the men but not us. We had contemplated every possibility of escape for Mick whom we thought they were looking for, as it had been published that there was a large reward for anyone who helped to find him. There was no means of escape, however, as the military had occupied the narrow entrance in the back as well as the front. Mick said: "We are caught like rats in a trap and there is no escape". He remained seated at his desk, quite calm and collected until they came in. One of the police inspectors. - I think Love was his name - had a special commission to capture Collins, but it was Inspector McFeely who came to our rooms, locking a little bit frightened. He went round searching the different desks and seemed desperately anxious to finish his task and get out. Mick sat very casually an his desk with one leg swinging and told him in no measured. terms what sort of work he was engaged on. Be was scathing in his remarks about it.
"What sort of a legacy will you leave to your family, looking for blood money. Could you not find some honest work to do, &c.?" The Inspector was writhing under the attack. At that stage they left the room, to our great relief, end passed on up to the caretaker's room overhead. Frank Gallagher's room on the same landing as ours was being examined the same time as ours. It was there that Ernest Blythe was arrested. He happened to be visiting Frank, probably on Dáil business. Frank, assisted by Michael Nunan, was engaged in propaganda work at the time. Blythe, when he heard a raid was on, hid in a small storeroom and was found there. If he had not done that, he might not have been arrested. The only other person arrested, as far as I remember, was Paidin O'Keeffe. Seemingly it was Mick's coolness that saved him from being recognised.
From time to time the girls would take a peep out at the corridor to see if the coast was clear and, as soon as we got word that the police had all left the caretaker's room, Mick managed to Blip up the stairs, which were now empty. We suspected, however, that the police might come back, Sure enough, in a short time they came up again, this time Inspector Love, who seemed to be in charge of the raid, was with them instead of Inspector McFeely. They took a general survey of the room without questioning anybody and left again. After that, they cleared off finally, taking the two prisoners with them. Our relief this time was intense. Mick came down, sat at his desk end refused to leave in spite of our protestations We all remained at our work until the normal time for our departure.
MILITARY PARTY ATTACKED
SOLDIER SHOT DEAD
SEVERAL WOUNDED RIFLES CAPTURED
EXCITING CHASE INCIDENTS
On Sunday, whilst a party of about 17 soldiers were proceeding to church at Fermoy an attack was made on them by men who drove up in motor cars. It appears that about 10.45 that morning a party of military of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry comprising seventeen men were proceeding to the Wesleyan Church to attend service.
The Wesleyan Church is situated in Walker's Row, near the Courthouse, at the eastern end of the town. They were in charge of a corporal and carried rifles, but no ammunition.
As they approached the church the corporal gave the order to "march to attention." Suddenly a party of men —about 12 or 13—emerged from motor cars, which were standing by, and fell upon the military with revolvers and staves. Six or seven shots rang out, and one of the soldiers, Private Jones, was hot through the heart and died instantly Another soldier was dangerously wounded, and his life is despaired of. A third soldier was shot through the neck and a 'fourth slightly wounded. Others of the party were badly injured on the head by bludgeons. It is stated that the assailants used spokes of wheels as weapons. The attacking party secured, the rifles, and then jumping into their motor cars drove off along the Courthouse road, passing the workhouse, and proceeded in the Waterford direction. To impede pursuit a tree was felled across the road at Carrickabrick, about three-quarters of a mile from the town.
Preparations for this had evidently been made before hand, as the tree was shown to have been sawn through within an inch of its girth, and then brought down after the motor cars passed. A second tree was also discovered cut in a similar fashion close by, but this was not felled. As soon after the occurrence as possible military and police in armoured cars, motor lorries, bicycles, etc., scoured the country for miles around. Meantime aid had been fetched for the wounded, and these were promptly removed in a military wagon to the military hospital, where they were attended to. The body of Private Jones was also removed there. On Monday evening a number of shops in Fermoy were wrecked by soldiers. A method of " getting some of their own back" as their Colonel expressed it. Damage to the extent of some £10,000 was done during the wrecking process.
DUBLIN SENSATION. BOYS SHOT BY SOLDIERS
Something in the nature of a local reign of terror in the Inchicore district culminated on Friday night in the shooting and wounding of some boys by soldiers, says the "Evening Telegraph."
A group of soldiers, numbering about five or six, went into Ring Street, a congested area, and discharged revolvers promiscuously. Four boys were hit; one named O'Connor, who received a bullet wound in the thigh, being the most seriously wounded. A boy named Gannon was hit in the ankle, a ricochet bullet struck another boy in the palm of the hand, and a fourth boy had his arm grazed by a bullet which passed up through the sleeve of his coat. In another case the bullet passed through a boy's Clothing and lodged in his coat pocket. The occurrence took place between 11 o'clock and half-past 11, and the residents were so much terrified to go into the streets that the matter was not reported to the police until early this morning. The police are engaged in making inquiries into the affair to-day. The boy O'Connor was attended to by Dr_, O'Sullivan and is at present under his care. Ring Street, New Kilmainham, where the outrage occurred, is a small street of workmen's dwellings with a congested population. The soldiers turned into the street about 11 o'clock, and while the smaller group began to fire off revolvers another group remained at the street corner, occasionally sounding warning whistles. The soldiers are stated to belong to Richmond Barracks and wore the regimental badge, K.O.R., on their shoulders. It appears there were at least five of them, and one wore the stripes of a sergeant and carried a revolver suspended by a cord.
Immediately after entering the street, the soldiers proceeded to fire off revolvers, but whether the wounded boys were deliberately aimed at cannot be determined as there was an immediate stampede of people in the street for cover. For 15 or 20 minutes, at intervals, shots were .fired, and by that time, apparently, the supply of ammunition was exhausted and the party withdrew, in the meantime two boys named Keogh had been struck, one in the hand and the other in the arm, O'Connor was shot in the thigh, and a boy named Gannon, while ¦walking along the Naas road, was struck by a bullet# on the ankle. Only in O'Connor's case was the wound of a serious character. The party of soldiers after leaving proceeded down Tyrconnell street towards Richmond Barracks-. It is believed they belonged to a party who had made their way out of barracks over the walls at the back. For several nights past a picket of soldiers have held Blackhorse Bridge, and have interrogated and searched passengers and vehicles passing at night. These were generally withdrawn about 11 o'clock, and subsequently rowdy soldier groups have been free to pursue the terrorist tactics that culminated in Friday night's shooting.
From Nenagh Guardian, 13th September 1919
Fatal Midday Raid in County
One soldier was shot dead and three others wounded outside the _Wesleyan Church, Fermoy, on Sunday by a crowd of men, who drove away in motor cars.
Five or six shots were fired by the attacking party, who got clear away, taking with them the greater number of the rifles car led by the military, who numbered seventeen. To delay pursuit a tree was felled the road about a mile outside the town. The raid appears to have been one of astounding daring, and to have been executed with a rapidity and boldness that sets it apart from enterprises of a similar character in recent years. The fact that if was carried out in broad daylight, and its perpetrators appear to have escaped without hindrance after having apparently achieved I heir object, adds to the sensational character of the occurrence.
EVIDENCE AT INQUEST
On Monday evening, in the Military Hospital, Fermoy, Mr Coroner Rice opened the inquest on the remains of Private William Jones (34), a native of Carmarthen, Waies. of the Shropshire Regiment, who was fatally shot the previous day outside the Wesleyan Church. Corporal F. Hudson, Shropshire Light Infantry, said the previous day, at 10.35, witness marched a party of 15 privates to the Wesleyan service.
Then they came near the church he saw a party of six men talking at the corner of the fair field and watching the military. Witness saw a motor car with some men on it, but he did not know the number. As the party passed the car, the rifles were about being brought from the slope order to nail, preparatory to halting. He saw a number of men rushing towards the troops with revolvers in their hands. There was a second grey motor car, with a yellowish brown colour, near the church. There were no marks on it, as witness looked for the identification marks, which were obliterated. It was a Ford car. There was a third car, a black one, beyond the _band of the road, and the men from one motor, five or six, made a rush with three revolvers and started firing away. One man was in front of the crowd.
He was a low-sized, stout man, with sallow complexion, and fired at Private Jones_, who fell.
Coroner : Did any of these men make any observation prior to firing ; did' they say " hands up" or anything ?—No, sir.
Witness said the man who led the first band of men had dark clothes, and he was apparently a labourer. _Witness could identify the man again. When attacked at the front the party was also attacked in the tear, and witness was hit from behind and stunned with a heavy, though soft, instrument,
He did not see the disarming going on. He was changing the formation of his rren at the time of the attack and the whole thing lasted from 45 seconds to one minute.
Coroner : That was very quick. We had heard nothing so smart as that during the war. How many rifles were taken?
Witness : Thirteen. He heard six shots fired before he got hit in the head, and several were fired afterwards.
Private Benjamin Byles corroborated, said the front attacking party had stave made of all classes of wood. To the Coroner : About a dozen men attacked the military in front, and they were all armed with a revolver and a stick. He heard from 15 to 20 shots. Medical evidence having been given _. The Coroner, in summing up, described the occurrence as a regrettable and deplorable one in every sense of the word. The present occurrence was act of warfare, premeditated, where trees had been cut down to "obstruct the pursuit and , impede those engaged in the preservation of the peace. The time for the attack, when the soldiers were about to step into the church, had been well prepared. Referring to the carrying of rifles to the church by the military, he said the clanking of these weapons was not calculated to help the peace and quietness of the worshippers The constitutional expression of the people had been stilled and stifled, and now the only expression they had was what came from rifles and revolvers. District-inspector Lewis suggested that it was a case of premeditated murder, and there should be a verdict to that effect. The jury found a verdict of death due to a bullet wound inflicted by some persons unknown.
Mr Lewis : Are you, then, of opinion it was not murder ?
Mr Barber (foreman) I We came unanimously to the conclusion that these men came for the purpose of getting rifles, and had no idea of murder; that it was unpremeditated.
Skibbereen Eagle, 13th September 1919
Rev Father O'Donoghue, Roman Catholic Administrator, has received the following letter from the Most Rev. Fr. Browne:—
Bishop's House, Queenstown,
11th September, 1919.
Dear Father O'Donoghue,—I have waited till the Coroner's inquest has finished its investigations and the popular excitement has cooled to write to you and your parishioners about the hideous crime perpetrated in broad daylight and in the public street of Fermoy on last Sunday morning. I was horrified , and so too —as you inform me—were the people of Fermoy, in reading the newspaper account of that awful tragedy. I read of no circumstance in the case to mitigate the savage atrocity of the crime. The little band of soldiers had given no cause of provocation. They were proceeding in an orderly and inoffensive manner to their religious Sunday Service when the desperadoes stepped from their motor cars, and, as sworn at the inquest with little, if any, warning or parley, fired on the unoffending men standing close by, killing one man and wounding three or four others, who Providentially escaped with their lives. Doubtless : the immediate purpose of the criminal raid was to possess themselves of the rifles carried by-the soldiers, but there is little room to doubt that they came prepared to carry out their object, even though it included the taking of innocent life. It was a fearful tragedy; a savage crime, which cries for vengeance from God and ordered society. At the public Masses on Sunday next, speaking for the Bishop, the clergy and the people of Fermoy, you will strongly condemn the awful crime in the name of Christian morality and social order. Who were the criminals, and whence came they to stain the street of Fermoy with innocent human blood? is a question everyone is asking with a sense of _indignation and horror. In this connection two things, to my mind, are certain. The first is that those desperadoes cannot be out for the welfare of Ireland, knowing, as all must know, that their awful crime will be used by the enemies of Ireland to misrepresent and besmirch the nation's claim for ordered freedom. The second thing that is certain is that no one who knows anything of Fermoy will say or think that they came from there. I say deliberately that there is no better ordered town in the Kingdom than Fermoy. For a hundred years it has been a large military station, and throughout all that time amicable relations have existed between civilians and military. And nothing has occurred recently to alter these kindly social relations. At the inquest on Monday last Corporal Hutson who was in charge of the little party of soldiers on' the way to Church, declared in reply to the Coroner that "he was in Fermoy since April, and during that time life had been treated with the greatest kindness"; and the District-Inspector testified that 'he was in Fermoy for a considerable time and the relations between the military and civilians had always been very good." On this account the shockingly disgraceful conduct of the soldiers since Sunday evening is to_= be deplored the more and publicly condemned. The military seem to have been let loose to wreak their frenzied vengeance on the unoffending people of Fermoy. They broke into the houses of the people, they rifled the shops, they looted, and encouraged looting by the mob. The damage done to the property of the townspeople by the frenzied soldiers is estimated at several thousand pounds. It was stated at a public meeting in Fermoy by a highly respectable gentleman that he saw an officer, who was dressed in mufti, breaking the windows of his house, and certainly the insulting language, offensive to the people of Fermoy, of a highly placed officer who attended car, that public meeting, was not such as to show that he disapproved of the house-breaking and looting by the men. While we deplore and condemn in the strongest language the terrible crime which resulted in the death of Private Jones, and express our sympathy with his relatives, we cannot refrain from condemning the outrageous conduct of the soldiers on Monday night in breaking into, pillaging and looting the houses of unoffending people. The occurrences of the week have been sad, very sad—the death of an unoffending man, the disgraceful conduct of the military, and _attending to injure the righteous claim of our much-suffering country to ordered freedom.—Yours faithfully.
Bishop of Cloyne.
From Drogheda Independent, 13th September 1919
WHAT DOES THIS CARSONITE BLUSTER MEAN?
THOSE who recognise that the working of the political machine goes on behind the curtain, have been giving some thought to- the recent performances of Sir Edward Carson. Last week the leader of the Covenanters made a descent on Belfast, met there in secret conclave the heads of his following, -and delivered himself, of a good deal of bluster and no inconsiderable volume of threats.
He advised his friends to put their house in order, to reconstitute their organizations and to be prepared to comport themselves valiantly in the near future. From the attitude assumed by this very clever political strategist one gathers that there is something in the offing which Sir Edward Carson and his following have reason to be concerned about; something which portends evil to the cause for which this wily lawyer stands.
The Orange Chief has inner knowledge of what is going on in governmental circles, he has close friends, old followers who have found high places since they stood sponsors with him for the solemn League and Covenant, and he is kept postedin all the inner movements which go on behind the curtain. That being, one has to adjudge his most recent performances at headquarters as having some more satisfying explanation than mere bravado or bluster. Sir Edward is a good judge of events, a keen man of affairs, a leader conservative of energy and not likely to waste his powder without due cause. What has prompted this politician's great blow-out in Belfast last week? Either of two things. A knowledge that the Irish Question is pressing itself forward towards solution in a way which even the present Government cannot withstand, and that as a consequence the cause for which this great Covenanter stands is in peril 5 or a desire to anticipate events and to warn off the Government from attempting to do anything towards finding a solution of that Irish Question which now has come to confront it from every
European Chancellery and, in an especial way from that of the United States of America, but which that reactionary Orangeism of which this clever lawyer is the exponent, views only from its own narrow standpoint regardless of the consequences to country or Empire so long as its own petty parochial view of things is made the Government view also. Of the Bourbons it used to be said that they learned nothing and forgot nothing. A contemporary critic of Sir Edward Carson's political activities has stated that the lessons of the great war have been lost upon him and his followers that they stand to-day where they stood before August, 1914.
And all the indications point to the justice of this conclusion. With all the world in upheaval, humanity seething in a very maelstrom of change, everything taking on new forms, these Orange reactionaries, oblivious of all the wrack and ruin which has been wrought, stand where they stood the vigilant and sleepless guardians of that miserable and selfish ascendancy which they regard as their birth right, and cherish with a zeal as ardent as it is contemptible. Liberty has been casting her emancipating breath over the face of the world old tyrannies have gone under before .the compelling force of that forceful exorcism. Peoples who have been in bondage are stretching their limbs in the new arena of freedom which has come to them. The world is practically in the re-making so far as powers and nations and empires are concerned.
All oblivious of this transformation, "Ulster" Orangeism stands where she stood—the denier of freedom to her own country—the Cerberus guarding the outposts lest perhaps Liberty should enter in and Ireland should take her rightful place as the arbiter of her own destinies. What a wretched riddle for even Covenanting Orangemen to fill! But there it is it has to be counted with. A miserable minority blocking the way and calculating as being able to effect in 1919 what it effected in 1914.
The position, however, is changed, and the ostrich policy of the Northmen who follow Sir Edward Carson's lead. cannot, succeed in concealing the fact from even the majority of these followers themselves. Things are riot now just as they were in 1914 when Carsonism gave Mr. Premier Asquith such a dreadful shock that he felt compelled to yield to its clamour and hang up his Home Rule Act after he had passed it into law. Ireland's court of appeal in that year, and for years before it was the British Parliament and the good will of the British people.
Since then the venue has been changed and the domestic question of the-Asquith Premiership has widened out into the International question of the Lloyd-George regime. So that the claims of this Nation to liberty and justice are no longer set for decision by the Parliament of Westminster alone. The happenings of the last few years have given the Irish cause a wider court of appeal; and to-day the Nations of Europe as well as-the great Western Republic are concerned in. the cause of Irish liberty in a way that has not hitherto been the case. The why or the wherefore of this new and widened interest in our country's affairs it" is not necessary to .discuss here—the fact that it is so is the important matter; the causes which have co-operated to produce this result will be given their due place in the record when the history of the time comes- to ' be written. What is of importance now is whether' this new force which has been, brought into: play in the interests of Irish liberty will be continued until the aim sought for is attained. Political forces are often rather disappointing in their results.
If they are used when they can be best applied and when the largest results may be looked for from them they, as a rule, yield the harvest which they were expected to-produce. If they come to dissipate themselves before that time of fruit is reached the results are _ disappointing. At the present time, we know, that American public opinion is strongly set towards the Irish claim. How long that trend will endure is a question of some moment to Irishmen.
Should it dissipate itself before Ireland's claim to Self-Determination is secured we are back in the. wilderness once more. The Orange manifestations of last week are evidences we think that there exists a desire on the part of the Government to meet the international pressure, especially from across the Atlantic, on the Irish question, and that, with the irner knowledge -which Sir Edward Carson possesses, this is known .to be so likely to fructify that the old-time ascendancy of the northeast corner men is felt to be now in imminent danger of collapse. If the exponents of Orange feeling were not in dread of the outcome of the pressure being brought to bear on Downing Street from Washington as well as from Carmelite House on the Irish Question, we would not have witnessed the activities which the past week saw in operation in the Orange capital.
It may be, of course, that Carsonism will succeed again as it did before, in paralyzing the powers that be, and frightening them away from any attempt to find an acceptable solution for the Irish Question. But the likelihoods of the other _pressure- - both financial as well as political which are now operating in a contrary direction being sufficient to overcome that which the north-east corner men can bring to- bear ..are sufficiently strong to lend, encouragement to the hope that we are nearing a period when the forces of reaction will no longer be able to successfully block the only solution of the Irish Question which can now have a chance of acceptance at the hands of the majority , of the Irish people—such a measure of freedom as will enable Irishmen to work out the destinies of their Motherland in their own way.