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In March or April, 1921, the Auxiliaries came to Corofin. They had a big reputation as seasoned and ruthless soldiers. Our brigade staff was anxious to emulate the feat performed by the Corkmen at Kilmichael, and eagerly sought an opportunity to do so. The Auxiliaries soon provided the chance, by travelling in lorries between Corofin and Ennis.
About the middle of May, 1921, the brigade O/C, Frank Barrett, assembled upwards of seventy or eighty men, nearly all armed with rifles, at Kilnamona where they billeted for the night. Next morning, after having breakfast and getting conditional absolution from Father Hamilton, later Canon Hamilton, then on the staff of St. Flannans College and one of the leading lights in the Sinn Fein movement in Clare, the party marched to Toonagh, about four miles away and roughly midway on the main road between Ennis and Corofin, which are nine miles apart. Positions were taken at about seven oclock in the morning, and one or two lorries were expected to come from Corofin some time before noon. It was the intention to attack them on their way to Ennis.
Around four oclock in the evening,
the enemy was still without coming. A shot suddenly rang out which could
be heard for miles throughout the country. This happened accidentally,
but it caused the O/C to withdraw from the position. He had come to the
conclusion that, owing to the lateness of the hour, the Auxiliaries were
not going to travel to Ennis that day, and futhermore, he had a feeling
that the shot, which had been discharged by one of the men, might have
been heard either by the enemy or by someone who might warn them. Placed
as we were between Ennis and Corofin, the party could be quickly surrounded
by troops moving from these two points. On our withdrawal from Toonagh,
the men were instructed to disperse to their home areas, and it was the
last occasion before the Truce that I personally was connected with an
operation planned by the Brigade staff.