The 1919 Sack of Fermoy

From Bureau of Military History Witness Statement 1,188; Michael J. Mansfield

Attack on British troops at Fermoy. It was in the month of September 1919, when George Lennon, Vice 0/C. of the West Waterford Brigade, and I went to Fermoy to take part in an engagement against the British, the o/C.JM being the late Liam Lynch. It was observed that a party of armed military, about 20 strong, used parade froth Fermoy barracks to the Wesleyan Church, Fermoy, to attend Service in the church at 8 a.m. on a Sunday and plans were laid to ambush this party and capture the rifles.

The idea was to have our men in twos at intervals along the road where the military used to halt before entering the church. Another party of our men were out of sight in a public convenience near the church. When the signal was given, the Tommies were to be rushed and disarmed. Everything came off according to plan. The soldiers arrived as expected. We were in position and rushed them with revolvers pointed, ordering them to surrender. Most of them did so, but there were, I remember, a few shots fired which resulted in, so far as I can say now one Tommy being killed. Liam Lynch was wounded in the shooting. However, the badly needed rifles and equipment were captured from the soldiers and taken quickly away by the Cork Volunteers to a place of safety. Meanwhile, George Lerinon and I were in a rather precarious position.

The motor in which we travelled from Dungarvan, and which was to bring us back, was taken to remove Jim Lynch and we were left stranded in a locality more ox’ less strange to us. We made our way on foot quickly out of Fermoy, bearing in a south westerly direction, whilst the countryside as alive with military in lorries and on horseback, searching for the raiders. Planes were also up ‘looking out’ for us. We were very fortunate to be able to cross the Blackwater river by a boat which was waiting to take over some men from Araglen, Co.Cork, who were on the job in Fermoy. Later in the day we found ourselves surrounded by searching troops, so we hastily took off our coats, got into a cornfield and proceeded to make up stooks of corn.

We were seen by the military, who took us to be me engaged in harvesting work; they passed on without suspecting a thing. Eventually we reached Lismore about 12 miles sohth at about 8 p.m. where we were welcomed in the house of Sean Goulding (afterwards a Senator). We remained in his house overnight and returned to Dungarvan safely the following morning.

From Bureau of Military History Witness Statement 978; Leo Callaghan

NESLEYAN RAID, FERMOY. On 4th September 1919, I was informed by Jack Cunningham, Company 0/C. Mallow, and Owen Harold who, I think, was battalion vice 0/C. Mallow Battalion, that there was a job to be carried out on the following Sunday (they did not say where) which would require the use of a motor car. They were to hire a car from my employer (W.J. Thompson) and to ask that I should be allocated to drive same.

They did as arranged but on Saturday (6th September 1919) I was informed by my employer that I was to proceed with a different party on Sunday (7th September 1919) while a fellow employee (Chris. Browne) was delegated to meet Owen Harold's party. When I had finished work that evening I reported to Jack Cunningham and Owen Harold that Browne was to drive their party next day. They immediately informed me that this would not suit so I agreed to inform Browne that I was taking on his job while he could do the job selected for me. He reluctantly agreed and on Sunday morning (7th September 1919) I proceeded to Fair St. Mallow, with the Buick car IF.1342 which I usually drove.

I picked up Bryan Kelly, Ned Waters, Owen Harold and Dan Hegarty about 8.45 a.m. We proceeded by Ballyvinter, crossing main Mallow-Mitchelstown road at Anakisha to Castletownroche on the main road between Mallow and Fermoy. We then travelled the main road to Fermoy through Ballyhooley arriving in Fermoy about 10 a.m. Wed rove to the rere of the Fermoy Hospital where we found a number of men (including Liam Lynch) assembled. I was then told of the proposed attack.

I was instructed to take my car into Patrick St. where the Wesleyan Church was and to ensure that when the attack took place my car was behind the enemy party, i.e., between them and their return route to their barracks. With Dan Hegarty, Owen Harold, Ned Waters, Bryan Kelly and Liam Lynch in my car, I proceeded to a point near the Gas Works which was east of the Wesleyan Church on the opposite side of the road. I faced the car in the direction of Fermoy (west) and when the party of military appeared in Patrick St. about 11 a.m. and had nearly reached the Wesleyan Church I drove slowly towards them.

Just as they reached the Church I had passed the rear of the party and I immediately swung my car across the road to cut off their retreat. Immediately I turned the car a whistle was blown by Liam Lynch and the party in my car, together with a number of others who had been standing round in the vicinity, dashed at the military party and disarmed them. While the struggle for the rifles was going on I turned my car in the direction of Lismore (east). During the scrap I heard one shot being fired - this was apparently the shot which killed Private Jones.

The whole engagement was over in a few minutes and most of the captured rifles were put into my car which also picked up the party I had taken from Mallow that morning and, in addition, Liam Lynch, Peter O'Callaghan, William Ahern and Pat Leahy. The other car, driven by Jack Mulvey, Rathcormack, had adopted similar tactics to that employed by me and he picked up the balance of the rifles and a number of the participants in the engagement. The remainder of the Volunteers engaged apparently returned to their own areas on foot or by cycle. I then drove my party in the direction of Lismore on the Fermoy-Tallow Road. We were followed by the other car driven by Jack Mulvey. When we passed Carrigabrick about 1 1/2 miles from Fermoy, two large trees which had been sawn through earlier that morning and held in position by ropes were allowed to fall across the road.

This road block delayed the military in their pursuit and forced them to detour. When we reached Kilmagner, about five miles from Fermoy, we halted. It was then discovered that Liam Lynch was wounded and his wound - a slight one in the shoulder - was dressed by Wm. Ahern, who was a chemist. At this stage the rifles were removed from the cars and we proceeded in the direction of Ballynoe, leaving Peter O'Callaghan and pat Leahy at Kilmagner.

We eventually reached the MidletonYoughal road and then proceeded towards Youghal. The party now comprised Liam Lynch, Wm. Ahern, Ned Waters, Bryan Kelly, Owen Harold and Leo O'Callaghan (witness). About two miles from Youghal Liam Lynch and Wm. Ahern left the car and proceeded up the hill across the fields to the House of some friend of Liam Lynch's. With the remainder of the party I drove to the Greenpark Hotel, Youghal, where 5. we had something to eat. Just as we had finished our meal somebody entered the dining room and we heard them say that the military were looking for a grey car. We left without undue delay and set out for Cork. We reached Cork without incident and after a short delay there we returned direct to Mallow which we reached about 6.30 p.m.

From Bureau of Military History Witness Statement 991; Owen Harold

I resumed my Volunteer activities on release and there was nothing of note until early September when an attack was arranged to take place on a party of British military (East Kent Regiment) who usually paraded to the Wesleyan Church in Fermoy each Sunday morning. This attack was arranged by Liam Lynch, Brigade 0/C., and was to take place on Sunday, September 7th, 1919. Some days earlier in the previous week - about the 3rd or 4th September, I think - I was instructed by the Brigade Vice 0/C., (Dan Hegarty) to arrange to have a car made available to go to Fermoy on Sunday morning (7th idem).

He also advised me to be ready to travel and that Bryan Kelly and Ned Waters would also be with us. With Jack Cunningham I approached Leo O'Callaghan (a Volunteer), who was employed as a driver at W.J. Thompson's Garage, Mallow. I informed him that we would be hiring a car 6. from his employer to do a journey on Sunday and that we required him as driver. He readily agreed to help us, so we then hired the car and asked Thompson's to send Leo O'Callaghan as driver. This was agreed to. However, on the Saturday night (6th September 1919), prior to the date of the job, Leo O'Callaghan informed Jack Cunningham

Cunningham and myself that another driver was to drive us on the following day. We told him that this would not suit so he agreed to switch jobs with the other driver and to come with us. Shortly before 9 a.m. on Sunday, September 7th, 1919, Leo O'Callaghan picked up the following party at Fair Street, Mallow: Dan Hegarty, Bryan Kelly, Ned Waters and Owen Harold (witness). He was driving a grey Buick car. We then proceeded in a roundabout way to Fermoy which we reached sometime about 10 a.m. We drove to the appointed meeting place at the back of the hospital.

There we found a number of men gathered and we were all told of the proposed plan for the attack on the Church party. This engagement is now generally known as the Wesleyan Raid. The plan and the duties allocated to each unit were explained by Liam Lynch (Brigade 0/C.) With Dan Hegarty, Ned Waters, Bryan Kelly and Liam Lynch I went in Leo O'Callaghan's car to a point on the main Fermoy Lismore road near the Gas Works.

This position is east of the Wesleyan Church. The car was faced (west) in the direction of Fermoy. When the party of military were approaching the Wesleyan Church we drove slowly towards them and, just as they reached the Church, Leo O'Callaghan swung his car across the road behind them. His car was followed by another driven in a similar manner by Jack Mulvey, Rathcormac.

I should have mentioned that in addition to the two carloads of Volunteers there were a number of other Volunteers in the vicinity. Immediately our car had swung across the road, Liam Lynch blew a whistle and the parties in the two cars all jumped on the military party and disarmed them. They were assisted by Volunteers who had been hanging around near the Church.

The whole engagement was over in a few minutes and the rifles carried by the military party were loaded into the Mallow car which had been turned to face in the Lismore direction by Leo O'Callaghan, while the right for the rifles was on. During the fight I only heard one shot fired. I don't know who fired it, but it must have killed one of the soldiers - Private Jones. Liam Lynch was also slightly wounded in the shoulder. When the captured rifles had been loaded onto our car we also picked up Liam Lynch, Peter O'Callaghan, Pat Leahy and William Ahern in addition to our own party. Jack Mulvey in the second car picked up some more of the Volunteers, while the others made their way from the scehe on cycles or on foot. The two cars with their party were driven along the Fermoy-Lisnaore road to some place about Live miles from Fermoy where we halted. In the meantime, the road had been blocked behind us by falling some trees. At this stage it was noticed that Liam Lynch was wounded. His wound was dressed by William Aherne who was a chemist.

The rifles were now removed from our car and, leaving Peter O'Callaghan and Pat Leahy behind us, we proceeded in the direction of Ballynoe. We continued through various by-roads till we reached the main Cork-Youghal road and went on to Youghal. Our party at this point were Liam Lynch, Wm. Ahern, Ned Waters, Bryan Kelly, Leo O'Callaghan (driver) and Owen Harold (witness). Some short distance from Youghal - about 11/2miles or so - Liam Lynch and Wm. Ahern left ou± car. They went across the fields on the left of the road to the house of some friends of Liam's. We drove on to the Greenpark Hotel in Youghal where we had some refreshments. While in the hotel I overheard a remark by a man who entered the dining room, who said to a companion of his that the military, were holding up cars.

We immediately decided that it was time to be moving on, so we settled our bill and left for Cork. We reached Cork without incident although when we cam to Dunkettle Bridge on the Youghal-Cork road, about 31/2 miles from Cork, we found the military on duty there holding up cars. To this day I am unable to account for the fact that they allowed us to pass through without halting us. We remained in Cork for a short time and then came on to Mallow which we reached late in the evening.

RIC Officer Shot Dead in Lorrha

From Nenagh Guardian, 6th September 1919


Police Sergeant Shot Dead; Constable Wounded


No small sensation was caused throughout North Tipperary on Wednesday morning when it was learned that on the previous night a police patrol had been fired at in the vicinity of Lorrha and a sergeant shot dead and a constable dangerously wounded.

It appears that a patrol consisting of Sergeant Brady and Constables Foley and McCormack left Lorrha police barracks at about 10 o'clock on Tuesday night, and having traversed certain townlands, were returning to the barracks, walking three abreast, when at the entrance gate to Trench's field, situate mid-way between Lorrha and Carrigahorig, Constable McCormack noticed his comrades to look sharply towards the gate and almost immediately shots rang out.

Sergeant Brady fell dead, while Constable Foley received eight pellets in the back of his left hand and more lodged in the left portion of his chest. He had brought his carbine to the "present" at the time he was struck. He made his way to the house of a farmer named Carroll, where his wounds were dressed by a Mrs Hogan.

In the morning he was attended by Dr Brennan and subsequently removed to Borrisokane Union hospital under care of Dr L. J. Quigley. Meanwhile Constable McCormack, hearing the noise of the assailants, escaping under cover of the adjoining scrub, discharged his rifle into it. Ascertaining that Sergeant Brady was dead, and failing to locate Constable Foley, Constable McCormack, taking with him the sergeant's revolver and the Constable's rifle, proceeded to Lorrha barracks.

In the early morning several houses in the vicinity of Lorrha and Carrigahorig were searched, and in the forenoon an extra force of police and military from Nenagh were drafted to the district and scoured the country for miles around. At an early hour in the morning a young man named John Joseph Madden was arrested at Gortabaha, Co. Galway. He appears to be a herd's son from the district. In the afternoon he was conveyed to Borrisokane Union Hospital, where, it is stated, the injured constable made a deposition before Major Dease, R.M. Madden was removed, and subsequently conveyed under an armed military and police escort to Limerick prison.

Two other men named Denis Brett and John Dillon were detained and questioned but afterwards released. A pathetic feature of the terrible affair is that Sergeant Brady had only arrived from Enniskillen on temporary duty last Saturday. He leaves a widow and six children. Constable Foley is a native of Bagnalstown, and was stationed at Lorrha for two years, while Constable McCormack came there from Co. Derry last July. The body of Sergeant Brady was removed to Borrisokane Workhouse morgue on Wednesday evening.


The inquest on the body of Sergeant Brady was held in the Board-room of the Borrisokane workhouse on Thursday afternoon by Mr James O'Brien, solicitor, and coroner for North Tipperary.

Mr Dudgeon, D.I., Borrisokane, represented the constabulary, and the following gentlemen were sworn on the jury :—

Messrs G. Hobbs, J.P (foreman), T. P. Heenan, F. Dillon, P. _Brereton. P. Plannery. J. Cahalan. J. Reed. T. Cleary. D.C, P. Heenan (chairman Borrisokane Board of Guardians), M. Ryan, J. A. Phelan, J. Crawford, W. Fogarty, P. J. O'Donogbne.

The Coroner said the only information at his disposal was a report he got from the police; it was a very short report, to the effect that the sergeant was shot on Tuesday night at Lorrha. He was then on patrol with two constables. " I understand," the coroner proceeded, "Sergeant Brady was but a few days in this locality, having been recently transferred from Enriskillen. I don't propose to say anything further at present with reference to this occurrence, but I do reserve my right to say something later on."

Brother's Evidence.

Edward Beady, commercial traveller, residing at Cocasham, Co. Cavan, was the first witness examined. He stated that the deceased was his brother. He last saw him alive or. June 29th, at Enniskillen, where he was then stationed. Deceased who was aged 48 years was married, and had six children.

Coroner- 'Do you know if he had any private enemy who might be likely to take his life?—I never know him to have an enemy. Replying to further questions, he identified the remains in the morgue as that of his brother Personally, he knew nothing as to the circumstances surrounding his brother's death.

A Juror (Mr J Cabalan) : How long was your brother in Enniskillen ?—I think he was only about two months.

Was he a popular man in Enniskillen?—He was popular everywhere.

The Occurrence Described

Constable McCormack deposed that he belonged to the Co. Derry force and had been stationed temporary at Lorrha since July 5th. At 10.30 on Tuesday night he left Lorrha barracks on patrol, accompanied by Sergeant Brady and Constable Foley.

They went as far as Ballyquirke cross roads, where they remained for some time. They returned by the same road towards Lorrha. About three quarters of a mile on the Carrigahorig side of Lorrha. when opposite a gate at the. entrance to Mrs Trench's field, they were walking three abreast.

Sergt Brady was in the centre Const. Foley was on the right next to the field, and witness was on the left of the sergeant. Opposite the gate he remarked that the sergeant and Constable Foley looked sharply towards the gate. Immediately shots rang out, and he saw the sergeant reel and fall. Witness and his companions were armed, that sergeant having a revolver and Constable Foley and witness a carbine each.

Witness immediately opened fire in the direction from which the shots same, and fired a number of Shots into the scrub; where he heard the noise of people running. Witness did not see anyone.' They got away under cover of the wall, which was about 4ft high. The scrub was on a slope to the right of the field, and would be between 15 and 20 yards from the gate.

After witness fired all the rounds he turned round and could not see Foley. He stooped down to the sergeant and asked him was he hurt or was he killed? Witness got no response, and on looking again saw that he was dead. He opened deceased's frock and waistband, and put his hand on his breast and found if was all blood. To make sure that the _sergeant was dead witness looked again, and then railed Constable. Foley by name but got no reply. He pulled the sergeant in from the centre of the. road and on to the grass, and returned to the barracks. Coroner : What hour would you say it was at the time you heard the shots ring out?—About 11.45. Replying to further questions by the Coroner, the witness said he. returned to the barracks alone, and Fr Brennan was sent for immediately.

The sergeant only arrived in Lorrha on _Saturday. Coroner : From the time of his arrival in the district was there any unpleasantness between Sergeant Brady and any of the residents in the locality?—No. There was none..