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Local Songs

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
I’ll sing to you the praises of the sons of Erin’s Isle
’Tis of an awful, awful ambush I’d have you to beware
That happened in Rineen, in a spot in County Clare.

Our boys they waited patiently with an eye both sharp and keen
They waited for these lorries to return to Rineen
Their scout at once they sighted them, without the least delay
And signalled to their comarades to get ready and prepare.

Their comrades they got ready without the least delay
And signal to their scouts again to let them come their way
The Black and Tans they came along, in lorries, as you know
And met our boys upon the road which gave them a heavy blow

They fought upon the highway, man to man you know,
With shotguns and revolvers against armoried cars and so;
The Black and Tans put up their hands, and the peelers too likewise
When they saw the determined faces upon our Irish boys.

So now to conclude and finish, as I think ’tis nearly time
And all the gallant Irishmen together should unite
Together should assemble and gather all you can
And have another ambush soon, to fight the Black and Tans!

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