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The Ambush at Rineen
From the late Tom Lenihan of Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay.
September 22nd 1920 is a date burned deeply into the history of West Clare. On that day the 4th Battalion of the Mid Clare Brigade of the I.R.A. lay in ambush at Rineen Cross, about two miles from Miltown Malbay on the Lahinch Road. Their objective, to hold up an R.I.C. lorry and relieve it of its arms, was at first thwarted when faulty signals resulted in the lorry passing through the waiting men, unscathed and unaware of its lucky escape. The men waited for the lorry to return and this time it was attacked and the seven R.I.C. men aboard it were slain.
Unknown to the attackers, a Captain Lendrum, R.M. had been shot at Doughmore the same day on his way to attend court in Ennistymon. Word was sent to the military forces garrisoned in Ennistymon and ten or twelve lorries with about one hundred and fifty men aboard set out immediately from the barracks. On their way, and to their mutual surprise, they came upon the I.R.A at Rineen while they were still engaged in removing the arms for the R.I.C. lorry. The I.R.A. unit managed to retreat in an exemplary manner almost unbelievable in such largely untrained men. Only four minor wounds were inflicted on the I.R.A., but they left fourteen dead R.I.C. and Black and Tans in their wake. Miltown Malbay, Lahinch and Ennistymon in particular suffered severely in the savage reprisals which followed. A monument now marks the scene of the action in Rineen.
Originating in such harrowing events, Tom Lehihan’s song on the ambush is surprisingly jaunty. The air is rollicking variant of ‘The Wearing of the Green.’
Come all you gallant Irishmen, come listen
for a while
Our boys they waited patiently with an
eye both sharp and keen
Their comrades they got ready without
the least delay
They fought upon the highway, man to man
So now to conclude and finish, as I think
’tis nearly time