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I.R.A. Volunteers in County Clare, 1916-1925

Taken from The Banner, Thomas Dillon (ed.), Claremen and Women’s Patriotic, Benevolent and Social Association of New York, New York, (1963).

John Breen
(Aged 21)
Quarter Master 2nd Battalion, West Clare Brigade
Killed in Action, 18th April, 1920

A native of Kiltumper, Kilmihil – born 1899, and educated in Clonigulane National School. After completing his education, and being the only male member of the family, he went to work on his father’s farm. His membership in the Volunteers began in 1917, when the formation of the Kilmihil Company, when he became one of its first Officers (Adjutant). He actively engaged in the organizing and training of that Company, and was elevated to Quarter Master of the 2nd Batt. in 1919.

In April 1920 he participated in an attack on an RIC Patrol in the Village of Kilmihil, in which a Sergeant was mortally wounded, and a Constable was critically wounded. As prearranged the attackers up front withdrew, after the operation was completed. Those in the rear were assigned to cover their retreat. Reinforcements arrived immediately from the Barracks, which was only a few yards from the scene, apparently having heard the first shots.

John Breen being one of the last men to leave the area, fought a single handed engagement and prevented the police from advancing, thus giving this comrades ample time to get away. With his ammunition all expended he attempted an escape, and was fatally wounded.

This was one of the most daring attacks of the West Clare Area. It was carried out in daylight in the proximity of the Police Barracks, and only a few hundred yards from the Military Depot. Those of us who were familiar with this “Tall, Courageous and Patriotic Soldier” expressed little surprise on learning of his “Heroic” performance.

Inspired with loyalty and devotion, to his comrades, he defended his position against overwhelming odds. His untimely death brought widespread regret in the Kilmihil area, and surrounding districts, where his popularity rated high, and a severe blow was dealt to his comrade “Officers and Men” of the Second Battalion Area, and to the Brigade in general. A beautiful Celtic Cross dedicated to the memory of this outstanding “Hero” was erected by his comrades on the site where he fell in action.

Patrick Burke
Aged 21
Quarter Master, West Clare Brigade

A native of Carhue Cooraclare, educated in Cooraclare National School, and later attended the Christian Brothers School at Kilrush. His membership in the IRA began in 1917, in the Cooraclare Coy. 3rd Batt. West Clare Brigade. Following his initiation he engaged in a very active career in the volunteer movement, and as a result his promotion in the ranks came rapidly, when he was elevated to Brigade Quarter Master from Adjutant of the 3rd Batt. He was an intelligent and courageous officer with an excellent record of IRA activity. He participated in an attack on RIC at Cooraclare, and engaged in all the Brigade activities until his arrest.

On the day following the shooting of a Kilrush Detective, he was arrested (under arms) at Ballinagun Cree. He and a party of volunteers were running from the Kilballyowen area, where they had engaged in IRA activities during the night. The automobile in which they were riding had halted for minor repairs, and during this interval they were surrounded and captured by enemy forces, who suddenly arrived in lorries from different directions.
They were taken prisoners and badly beaten. Patrick Burke who was armed and also a much “wanted man” was brutally beaten. He was sentenced to two years in Wandsworth Prison, and was on a Hunger Strike for twenty-four days. He was released in ill health and died 7th March, 1922. The death of this popular and youthful officer was a cause of deep regret among his comrades, and a severe loss to the Brigade Staff. He was buried with Military Honours in Kilmacduane Cemetery.

Peadar Clancy
Brigade Vice-Commandant – Peadar Clancy Dublin Brigade

Born in Cranny, Co. Clare, in 1894, Peadar started his career in the “Drapery” business in Killadysart, and later continued in Dublin where he joined “C” Company of the first Battalion Old “Dublin Brigade”. In Dublin Peadar made early friends with Dick McKee, and later with Frank Fahy. In 1916 he showed so much energy, courage, and intelligence that Captain Fahy elevated him to Lieutenant. (Captain Fahy was Ceann Comhairle of Dail Éireann for many years). All through the Easter Rebellion Peadar was constantly in action in the O’Connell Street area. At the barricade at Church Street Bridge the late Vice Brigadier, then Lieut. Peadar Clancy, of whom more will be heard of in this article, was in charge. Two at least of many thrilling incidents of which he was the leading light during this memorable week are worth recording.

On Monday night late the party in the prison at this bridge, after hearing sounds in the distance, discerned a column of infantry accompanied by army lorries rumbling along the Quays from the Phoenix Park direction. Lieut. Clancy gave orders that no move should be made until he gave the signal. He allowed the column to advance between two arc lamps which were burning brightly; then the order to fire was given. The horses under the foremost lorries were shot and thus any ordered advance by the infantry behind was completely held up. The enemy retired completely routed.

On Thursday night the same party defending the same bridge was menaced by troops who had managed to occupy a house at the corner of Bridge Street. The enemy was sniping all round from this house when Lieut. Clancy, after a survey of the position arranged a barrage of fire from all corners of the “Four Courts” to be directed towards the snipers. While this was in progress he calmly walked across the bridge carrying tins of petrol. Having broken the windows and poured the petrol into the building, he set it on fire and burned out the enemy. Members of the Battalion, who witnessed this and other incidents, to this day speak of the wonderful coolness displayed by this young Officer who was destined to become Vice-Brigadier of the Dublin Brigade of the Irish Republican Army and whose ultimate fate was to be murdered by Black and Tans in Dublin Castle five years later.

On Tuesday or Wednesday a private motor car approached the barricade at Church Street Bridge from Arran Quay church direction. Seeing the barricade the chauffeur stopped the car and attempted to get it into reverse. Lieut. Clancy, noticing this, immediately jumped over the barricade. He advanced shouting “Halt” but the driver persisted in his efforts to reverse, whereupon he was fired at and wounded in the hand by Lieut. Clancy, who made the occupants of the car prisoners. In addition to the driver, Lord Dunsanny who was also wounded and a Colonel Lindsey, were in the car. They were brought into the “Four Courts” from where Lord Dunsanny was sent in the Corporation ambulance, summoned by the Four Courts Garrison to Jervis Street Hospital to have his somewhat more serious wounds attended to. On his departure, he shook hands with all the men manning the position saying: “Although in different uniforms, we are all Irishmen and you are all gentlemen.”

Lindsey was afterwards the principal witness for the prosecution against most of the Four Courts Garrison who were sentenced. After the surrender in 1916 he was court martialled and sentenced to death, later commuted to penal servitude for ten years, in Portland and Lewes. In “Jail” he was one of those who was not hideously disfigured by the “Convict garb and Crop.” He was a tall, handsome, strongly built young man, and carried himself with a stately dignity that seemed to awe the “English Warders.”

At the “Amnesty of 1917,” Peadar returned to Dublin and started a drapery business in Talbot Street, “The Republican Outfitters” a place well known, near where Sean Treacy met his death. Here Peadar became immersed in “underground work” of the Volunteers and soon was elected Vice-Commandant of the Dublin Brigade. From that time he and Commandant McKee became the closest friends and associates, and partners in many daring enterprises. When nineteen prisoners escaped from Mountjoy Prison, it was Peadar who threw the rope across the wall to them, and stayed on the Canal Bank holding the rope till the last man got away. Six months later he crossed over to England, and in broad daylight performed a similar feat, by aiding five others to escape over a forty foot wall, from the “Manchester Jail.” Those are just a few instances of his coolness and daring.

On 21st June, 1920 – one of the most successful and carefully planned raids for arms by the IRA was that on “Kings Inns, Dublin” (a British Military Outpost). This daring coup which was carried out in daylight, under the “personal command” of Peadar Clancy, caused a sensation. With a time element of seven minutes maximum allowed, the entire operation was completed in five to six minutes. Twenty-five Rifles, two Lewis Guns and a large quantity of ammunition were seized, and carried away without casualties. After the “Bloody Sunday,” 21st November, 1920 the tanks were carrying out wholesale raids and shootings all over Dublin. Vaughan’s Hotel a favourite meeting place for Collins, McKee, Clancy and many other IRA Officers had several raids.

Clancy and McKee took up residence in Gardiner Street which Peadar had known well. Here they were surrounded and captured, later an attempt to rescue them failed, and they died under the most horrible and excruciating circumstances, on 22nd November, 1920.
It may be recalled here that another Clare-man named Conor Clune, native of Quin who was on a business trip to Dublin, was arrested at Vaughan’s Hotel the previous night. He was placed with D. McKee and P. Clancy and all three were murdered together. It would be impossible to estimate the loss of this outstanding leader (Peadar Clancy) whose services to the Dublin Brigade were invaluable.

Volunteer Joseph Considine
Mid Clare Brigade
Killed in Action

Joseph Considine was born and educated in Clooney. His membership in the Volunteers began with the formation of the Clooney Company. He was an ardent and loyal supporter of the Volunteer Movement, and engaged in all the operations of the Clooney Company, during the Fight for Independence. In 1922 he joined the Active Service unit and was killed in Action in Dublin early 1922.

Volunteer Dan Crawford – Aged 22
Coore Coy. 4th Batt. West Clare Brigade
Educated in Coore National School

An unusually tall and athletic young man, an outstanding Gaelic Football player, and a successful competitor in jumping events at many of the local sports meetings. His membership in the IRA started in 1919, and he had a very active rating throughout the Black and Tan War in his area. In 1922 he became a member of the West Clare Active Unit and participated in many engagements. He was arrested at Cahercanivan Kilmihill. A prison sentence followed. While in prison he went on “Hunger Strike” which impaired his health. He died in October 1924, which was soon after his release from prison. He was buried in Killernan Cemetery with Military honours, and a suitable Memorial was erected.

Commandant Martin Devitt
Killed in Action

Martin Devitt, c.1919
Martin Devitt, c.1919. Miscellaneous Photographs Collection.

On 20th February, 1920, plans were completed to attack and disarm an RIC Patrol at Crow’s Bridge, Inagh. Commandant Martin Devitt was accompanied by Ignatius O’Neill, Pat Lehane and Patrick Devitt (his brother). After assigning the latter two men to a position covering their retreat, Martin Devitt and Ignatius O’Neill occupied a position convenient to the road. As the patrol approached, both opened fire, forcing the Police to take cover immediately. Due to the presence of civilians who accidentally got in the line of fire, the attackers were placed at a disadvantage.

Commandant Devitt, in attempting to gain access to a more advantageous position, was fatally wounded. His partner, O’Neill, was severely wounded while removing him from the area. P. Lehane and P. Devitt were unable to locate the Police and abandoned the attack. The Fourth Battalion suffered its greatest defeat on that 20th day of February, when one of its most heroic and patriotic soldiers became a victim of enemy fire. His gallantry in action and daring acts of bravery were an inspiration to all who knew him.
As a tribute to this great soldier, a beautiful Memorial was erected on the very spot where he fell in action (near Crow’s Bridge, Inagh). It was unveiled by Commandant Tom Barry (Cork).

Michael Fahy
Adjutant, 5th Batt. West Clare Brigade

Received his primary education in Kilkee National School, and later attended the Kilrush Christian Brothers. He was an active member of the Fianna prior to membership in the IRA. He was accidentally wounded in Kilkee, and removed to Barrington Hospital, Limerick where he died in March 1920. The death of this very brilliant patriotic youthful Officer, was deeply regretted by his comrades and associates, and his loss to the 5th Batt. was immeasurable. His internment took place at the Kilferagh Cemetery, where a suitable Memorial was erected.

Volunteen Patrick Hassett
Killimer Coy. 2nd Batt. West Clare Brigade

Accidentally shot at Kilmore during IRA activities. Invariably Sinn Fein Court decisions were accepted peacefully by all parties concerned. On this rare occasion however, the aid of the IRA was requested following the refusal of a steward representing a particular estate to abide by a Court Order. Patrick Hassett, one of a group of IRA men arrived to enforce the Court Order. The steward registered his disapproval and immediately opened fire with a revolver. He was shot down and critically wounded. The accidental discharge of a comrade’s gun resulted in the wounding of Patrick Hassett. After an interval of four days, due to transportation difficulties, he was removed to a Limerick Hospital where he died the next day. He was buried in Killimer Cemetery, June 1920.

Captain Nicholas Hawes
Mid Clare Brigade

A native of Lisdoonvarna, with membership in the Volunteers starting in 1917. He engaged in all IRA activities in the 5th Batt. Area during the Black and Tan War, and was closely associated with Peadar O’Loghlen. Following the split he remained on the Republican side. He was arrested in 1922 and imprisoned in Limerick where he was hospitalized after two weeks. He was released in ill health and died soon after. His death was attributed to Active Service.

Volunteer Thomas Healy
Mid Clare Brigade

A native of Duagh, Co. Kerry, and a member of the Mid Clare Active Service Unit. He later transferred to the East Clare Column, and participated in the Cratloe Ambush where he died during the attack, on British Forces. Following his death he was taken to Duagh, Co. Kerry, and buried with Military Honours.

Paddy Hennessy, Tommy [O’]Leary and Jack O’Loughlin

April 1918: Celebration and Death at Miltown Malbay
A Victory Celebration on behalf of the IRA Prisoners who had successfully won their release after a prolonged “Hunger Strike” at Mount Joy and other prisons was in progress at Canada Cross, Miltown Malbay on the night of 14th April [1918]. Soon after it had gotten under way, a Military Patrol from the Army Headquarters in the Town Hall marched past the assembled crowd and continued to the RIC Barracks. After a short interval, a joint patrol of Military and Police – led by an RIC Sergeant approached the scene and issued orders to disperse. Without provocation, they immediately opened fire. Paddy Hennessy, Tommy [O’]Leary and Jack O’Loughlin were killed instantly. Six others were wounded.

A wave of protest and antagonism gripped the entire County following this cold-blooded murder of innocent people. Overnight hundreds of new members had joined the ranks of the IRA and Sinn Féin Organizations. Evidence of the people’s resentment at this barbarous act was displayed in one of the most emotional mass demonstrations at Miltown Malbay on the occasion of their funerals. Thousands of IRA men and civilians converged on the town to pay their respects. The procession to Ballard Cemetery was a most impressive sight. Due to the enormity of the crowd, many hundreds were unable to get past the suburbs of the Town. The victims were buried with Military Honours in Ballard, where a suitable memorial was erected to their memory.

Volunteer Patrick Hennessy
Clooney Company, 1st Battalion
Mid Clare Brigade
Executed in Limerick

A native of Clooney, and educated in the Clooney National School. Paddy as he was best known to his comrades was an ardent sports lover since his early teens. His favourite game was “Hurling,” and in his particular field he was outstanding, in addition to being a famous hurler he served as an Officer in the GAA Board. His initiation in the Volunteers began with the formation of the Clooney Company, where his record of IRA activities was most commendable, during the Black and Tan War. In 1922 he was attached to the Active Service Unit until his arrest. Soon after being arrested he was sentenced to death and executed in Limerick Prison. The death of this popular and well known man caused widespread regret among his comrades and sports lovers.

Captain John Hourigan
Mid Clare Brigade

A native of Ennis and educated in the National School there. Soon after having finished his education, he became restless, and as time went on he found it more difficult to adjust himself to any gainful employment in his home town. Hoping to overcome that feeling of insecurity he joined the British Army and served in the Dublin Fusiliers. After his term of service ended he returned to Ennis and became a member of the IRA and took an active interest in the training of that Company. In 1922 he was attached to the Active Service Unit, and remained faithful to his Republican ideals until his death. He died as a result of Active Service.

Michael Keane
Aged 23
Monmore Company 3rd Batt.
West Clare Brigade

A native of Shragh Monmore – Educated in Shragh National School. Mike, as he was known to his friends and comrades, was a very dignified and extremely handsome type of youth, with a keen desire to travel. Being of the adventurous type he enlisted in the British Army and served in the Irish Guards. On becoming a little more mature, he began to realize that his services were much more needed in the Irish Army, and with that thought in mind he deserted the British Army in 1919. He returned to his native townland of Shragh, and immediately joined the Monmore Company. Soon after his initiation he was appointed section leader, and later became a training instructor for that Company. He applied for service in the occupation of the Barracks following the “Truce,” where his regular army knowledge was much appreciated. In 1922 he became a member of the Brigade Flying Column and participated in all its activities. At the end of October 1922 he became ill while on Active Service, and returned home where he died after three weeks illness. The sudden and unexpected departure of this very popular youth caused intense grief among his comrades and friends. He was buried with Military Honours in the Republican Plot in Doonbeg in November 1922.

[Sean] Keane
Accidental Shooting

One of the first deaths in the West Clare Brigade area occurred in March, 1917 at Carrigaholt during Target Practice. A young man named [Sean] Keane [from Freaghvalley, Miltown Malbay] accidentally crossed the Rifle Range, and was fatally wounded.

Volunteer Patrick Keating
West Clare Brigade

A native of Cross Carrigaholt. Member of the Volunteers since 1917. Mortally wounded by Enemy Forces in 1922. He was buried with Military Honours.

Volunteer Dan Killoury
Mid Clare Brigade

A native of Moymore, Ennistymon. Member of the Moymore Volunteers from 1917. He was actively engaged in all IRA activities in that area. In 1922 he was attached to the Active Service Unit. He was arrested that year and sent to Mountjoy Prison from where he escaped later, in ill health. He was hospitalized in Ennistymon, and died soon after.

Patrick Lehane
Vice Commd’t 4th Batt. Mid Clare Brigade
Murdered by Enemy Forces 22nd September, 1920

Patrick Lehane, c.1920
Patrick Lehane, c.1920. Miscellaneous Photographs Collection.

Patrick Lehane was a native of Lahinch. He was a tall, youthful, and militaristic type of individual, with membership in the Volunteers from 1917. He was Captain of the Lahinch Coy, and had a spectacular record of activities during the Anglo-Irish War. Promotion to Vice Commandant of the 4th Battalion came early, and on the formation of the Active Service Unit in that Battalion he became one of its members. He participated in an attack on the RIC Patrol at Crows Bridge, Inagh, and later in the famous “Rineen Attack”, where he so ably distinguished himself. The glory of this triumphant operation was short lived however, for this heroic and patriotic soldier, who went to his death that very night, under the most tragic circumstances. The shocking news of his death was gravely accepted by his comrades, and the 4th Battalion was minus another great “Leader”. He received a Military Funeral, and was buried in Lahinch Cemetery.

Volunteer Matthew Lynch
Aged 22
Mullagh Company, 4th Batt. W.C.B.
Later attached to the Dublin Brigade.

A native of Mount Scott, Mullagh – educated in Coore National School. When he finished his schooling, he was employed by Mr. Thomas Burke who operated a general hardware business in Miltown Malbay. Mat, as he was usually called, was an ideal and noble youth, strictly honest in all his dealings, and inspired with love and devotion to the welfare of his Country and its people. His membership in the Volunteers began in 1917 in Mullagh, where he became an ardent and ceaseless worker in the organization and training of that Company. After completing his apprenticeship in the hardware business, he decided to go to Dublin, where he joined the Dublin Brigade, and continued to be an active member of the IRA until he became ill. Mat then returned to his residence in Mount Scott, where despite the best medical aid he passed peacefully away after a very short illness, (15th August, 1920). He was buried with Military Honours on 17th August, in Kilbridget Cemetery.

Commd’t Christopher McCarthy
4th Batt., West Clare Brigade
Killed in Action June 1921

Christopher McCarthy was a native of Miltown Malbay and Cloonlaheen. He was a member of a very large family, and a brother of Archbishop John McCarthy of the African Missions. His parents operated a general business and licensed premises at Cloonlaheen, and a licensed premises at Miltown Malbay. His membership in the IRA began when he organized the Coore Coy. in 1917, and became its Captain. Later this young patriotic and ambitious officer extended his organizational talent to much larger areas, and succeeded in forming the 4th Batt. of the West Clare Brigade, and served as its first Commandant. He was arrested in 1918, and a prison sentence in Limerick Jail followed.

Christopher McCarthy, c.1920
Christopher McCarthy, c.1920. Miscellaneous Photographs Collection.

After his release from prison he continued his activities with greater vigour and determination. In early 1920 he formed an “Active Service Unit” in the Batt., and made many requests to the Brigade for arms without success, as the area was not considered suitable for any large scale engagements. Having envisioned a much more active career in the “Fight for Independence,” he was gripped with a feeling of dissatisfaction, and transferred to the East Clare Brigade, where he served with distinction. He was killed in action at Cratloe with Lieut. Michael Gleeson (Meelick). Both men were surrounded by enemy troops, and though out-numbered twenty to one they fought until they fell in action. The end of those two brave “soldiers” came about one month prior to the Truce in July 1921.

Volunteer Michael MacGreal
South Galway Brigade

Michael MacGreal was a native of Craughwell, Co. Galway. He was employed at Liptons in Ennis, and was a member of the Ennis Company. He was attached to the Active Service Unit of the 1st Batt. During the Black and Tan War. During the occupation of the Barracks he was a member of the Transport Division. He was fatally wounded by the accidental discharge of his own revolver, while cranking an automobile.
He was a great favourite among his Clare associates, and was held in high esteem among his IRA comrades.

Lieut. Peadar McInerney
Mid Clare Brigade

Peadar McInerney, native of Kilmaley, membership in the Volunteers from 1918. He engaged in all the IRA activities of that area, and had a very creditable record during the Anglo-Irish War. He joined the Active Service Unit of the Mid Clare Brigade in 1922, and was drowned in 1923 while on Active Service. He was a very popular young man in the Batt. area, and was deeply mourned by all his comrades. He was given a Military funeral and buried in Kilmaley Cemetery.

Cornelius McMahon
Commandant, 1st Battalion, Mid Clare Brigade
Executed in Limerick.

A native of Clooney – He received his primary education in Clooney National School and later attended St. Flannan’s College, Ennis. His membership in the Volunteers began in 1917, when he organized the Clooney Company of the 1st Batt. and later became Commandant of that Batt. Con, as he was called, was an active member of the Flying Column, and engaged in all the activities of that Batt. He participated in the disarming of the Soldiers in Ennis, and also in the capture of the RIC Barracks in Ruan.

Following the Truce in July 1921, he remained on the Republican side, and in 1922 he directed the activities of the Active Service Unit in that area until his arrest, which ultimately led to his Execution in Limerick Prison. The death of this very popular Officer caused intense grief among his comrades and friends.

Staff Captain Joseph McMahon
South Cavan Brigade

Joseph McMahon, native of Kilmaley. Membership in the Volunteers began in 1917. He was engaged in the carpentry business in Co. Cavan, and was attached to the South Cavan Brigade, where he served as Staff Captain. In addition to the usual IRA activities, he became interested in the engineering department, and developed a keen interest in the manufacture of explosives. During experimental tests he was severely wounded and died soon after. This unfortunate incident occurred in 1918. He was buried with Military Honours in Kilmaley Cemetery.

Michael McNamara
Captain (Doonbeg Company)
West Clare Brigade
Murdered by British Forces
22nd December, 1920

Mikie McNamara was born at Mountrivers, Doonbeg, in July 1891, one of a family of 13 children. He attended Doonbeg National School for nine years, and then, having finished his schooling on 20th July, 1905, he went to work on his father’s farm.

When the Volunteer movement spread to Clare, he joined the Caherfeenick-Mountrivers unit under Dinnie McGrath. After his release from prison, Thomas Ashe addressed the Volunteers at the Sandhills, Doughmore. The words spoken on that occasion by the man who wrote the following lines must have made a deep impression on Mikie and those of his comrades who were present on that day:

Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord!
For Ireland weak with tears,
For the aged man of the clouded brow,
And the child of tender years;
For the empty homes of her golden plains;
For the hopes of her future, too!
Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord!
For the Cause of Roisin Dubh.

Later, Mikie took an active part in the formation of the Doonbeg company and became its first captain early in 1918. He worked quietly and effectively in training the manhood of his district in military discipline. He took part in the holding up and searching of trains for the purpose of obtaining information from British mailbags.

He was appointed Chief of the IRA Police for the third Batt. in early 1920. As a tribute to the efficiency with which he carried out the duties of this position, he was promoted to the rank of Brigade Chief of Police. In addition, he became a member of the Flying Column, formed in the summer of 1920. On 27th August, 1920, he participated in an attack on a Military Supply Corps at Burrane, Knock. The Military were relieved of their horses and their equipment was destroyed. The soldiers, however, were released unharmed.

On 14th September, 1920, the Column assembled at Drumdigus, Kilmurry MacMahon for a prearranged ambush of British Military. The main body of the Column, armed with shotguns, revolvers and hand grenades, occupied an elevated position on the east side of the road (Dan Haugh’s property). Willie Shanahan and Lieut. Paddy Hassett from Cooraclare (later Col. Hassett), both riflemen and two IRA men, Paddy Haugh and Joe Kelly, armed with hand grenades, were assigned to a position on the west side of the road. The Military, travelling south and arriving earlier than anticipated, were alerted to danger when they observed two IRA signalmen running to their positions.

They instantly halted their lorry (two hundred yards from the ambush site) directing fire on the signalmen and they began a circular movement. Willie Shanahan quickly realized the danger awaiting his comrades armed with shotguns. He and his partner, P. Hassett, immediately opened rapid fire and kept the enemy under cover long enough to allow the main body of the Column to make a safe withdrawal. He and his partners then escaped and rejoined the Column at Mobilization Headquarters in Tullycrine (Simon O’Donnell’s).

In the summer of 1920, it was ascertained through IRA Intelligence that the Resident Magistrate, Captain Lendrum, serving West Clare was the Director of the Enemy Secret Service for the area. An order for his arrest was issued by the Brigade Commandant, and after many unsuccessful attempts, he was finally intercepted on 22nd September, at the Caherfeenic Railroad Crossing. He was fatally wounded when he tried to use his gun. He was then disarmed and his car was seized. One hour later Willie drove the car to Doolough lake area.

Though Willie Shanahan was not directly involved in the capture and his participation in this affair had no connection with the death of Captain Lendrum, he was accused by the enemy as the real perpetrator of the crime. Night terror raids were carried out in his home and the homes of friends. During one particular raid, his parents were subjected to violence and threats of destruction to their residence. They were informed by the Commanding Officer that they had come to butcher Willie. Failing to find him, however, they chose another member of the family, and threatening him with the same fate, placed him under arrest. After a lengthy deliberation between the Military and the RIC Sgt. (formerly stationed in the next parish, Mullagh), they abandoned the idea. Before leaving, the Commanding Officer issued a grim warning to the parents that unless Willie surrendered, they would return to carry out their reprisals.

Still a free man, he scorned their threats and continued his activities with greater determination. One of his most serious encounters with the enemy occurred in October 1920, at Cloonagarnane, Craggaknock, during a session of the Sinn Fein Appeals Court. The court venue was a closely guarded secret because of the important nature of the cases and the required presence of men on the run, however, information was passed to the enemy by a disgruntled person involved in a court action. The Court was not long in session when a large force of Black and Tans and RIC suddenly arrived. Due to an excellent signal arrangement, some precious minutes were availed of to allow the removal of valuable documents, also providing a reasonable opportunity of escape to the wanted men. Willie fought a running engagement with the enemy and miraculously avoided capture. Unfortunately, some civilians attending the Court session became confused by the terrific shooting and attempted to flee the area. Enemy fire was then directed on them, fatally wounding Thomas Curtin (farmer from Craggaknock) and critically wounding Michael Crotty (business man from Kilrush).

Comrades’ Capture and Death
Willie and Mikie successfully evaded arrest until 17th December, 1920, when they were betrayed. They were surrounded and captured while sleeping at the home of Mrs. Reidy, located about three quarters of a mile southeast of Doonbeg.

Both men were brutally beaten with rifle and revolver butts and accused of killing Captain Lendrum.

They were taken to Kilrush Military Barracks, and on arrival, they were again tortured and beaten. Willie was confronted by members of the garrison who identified him as a participant in the Burrane Ambush.

On 22nd December, 1920 they were transferred to Ennis under a heavy Military escort. Before reaching their destination, Mikie was taken from the lorry and murdered. His body, badly mangled after being dragged for several yards by the lorry, bore the marks of three severe bayonet thrusts and one bullet wound.

After witnessing this inhuman crime, Willie was taken to the Military Barracks where his captors continued their brutal methods of interrogation for six hours. Failure on their part to break his morale or to extract any information from him concerning the IRA resulted in his death about midnight. Attempting to conceal this gruesome crime, his executioners removed his body from the Military Barracks to the other end of town and tossed it into the grounds of the County Infirmary. He was discovered next morning with his hands and feet bound, part of the back of his head blown off by an explosive bullet, and his body severely mutilated.

On Christmas Day 1920, Willie and Mikie – their coffins draped with the Tricolour – were buried side by side with IRA Military Honours in the Republican Plot of Doonbeg.

A magnificent Celtic Cross erected to the memory of Shanahan and McNamara was unveiled in this plot on Easter Sunday 1926.

After Willie’s death, the following citation was presented to his family:

West Clare Brigade

24th December, 1920

To Mr. & Mrs. Shanahan & Family:

We, the Officers and Men of the West Clare Brigade, through our Commandant, tender to Mr. & Mrs. Shanahan and Family our heartfelt sympathy in your sad bereavement on the loss of so heroic, noble-minded patriotic and beloved a son and brother who was so foully
murdered under such brutal circumstances by the agents of a Foreign Murder Gang.

Within the Brigade, he was loved and esteemed by his Brother Officers and Men. He was a most intelligent, efficient and courageous Officer in the discharge of his duty which earned for him the esteem which he bore.

His name will never be forgotten by the Officers and Men of the West Clare Brigade and will be handed down by them for generations to come as the heroic, patriotic, Child-Officer of the West who willingly laid down his life for the noble principles he so fearlessly advocated.

(Signed) Brigade Commandant

Captain Patrick McNamara
Ennis Coy. Mid Clare Brigade

Patrick McNamara, born 1899, native of Ballygogan, Barefield, and educated in Barefield National School. Served his apprenticeship in the Carpentry business in Ennis, where he became a member of the Volunteers in 1917. After completing his apprenticeship he was employed by the Railroad in his particular field, and during his employment there, he was a valuable source of information to the IRA concerning the movements of the enemy etc.

In 1920 he was forced to go on the run, and joined the active service unit. He participated in the disarming of the Military in Ennis, and also assisted in the capture of Ruan Barracks.
He was arrested in 1922, and escaped from Gormanstown Internment Camp. He was arrested five months later and sent to Mountjoy Jail, where he went on Hunger Strike. Following his release his health was impaired and he died in 1925. He was buried with military Honours in Barefield Cemetery.

Lieut. John McSweeney
Aged 19
Kilkee Coy 5th Batt. West Clare Brigade
Educated in Kilkee National School

He was attached to the Kilkee Brass and Reed Band, and played the “Sax Horn” which was his favourite instrument. In his early teens he was attached to the Fianna with membership in the IRA starting in 1920. He participated in all activities in the Coy. area, during the Black and Tan War, and ended that period with a very reputable record. In 1922 he joined the West Clare Active Service Unit and was fatally wounded in action at Kildysart in August of that same year. He was buried with Military Honours in Kiltenane Cemetery, where a Celtic Cross was erected to his memory by his comrades.

The funeral cortege of John McSweeney passing through Kilrush, 1922.
The funeral cortege of John McSweeney passing through Kilrush, 1922.
Murphy Hynes Kilkee Collection.

Murt Moloney
Aged 22
Captain B Coy. 4th Batt., Mid Clare Brigade
Fatally Wounded in 1923

Murt Moloney, native of Cloontismara, Inagh. Membership in the Volunteers began in 1918, and was appointed Lieut. that same year. In 1919 he was elevated to Captain of B Coy. 4th Batt. and actively engaged in the organization and training of that Company. He was arrested and served a prison sentence during the Black and Tan War. On the formation of the Active Service Unit he became a member, and engaged in all of its activities in that area. In 1922 he continued in Active Service until he was surrounded and captured in his own home, and was fatally shot. He died the next day in the Military Hospital. He was buried with Military Honours in Inagh Cemetery.

Volunteer Michael Neville
Dublin City Brigade

Born and educated in Lisdoonvarna. He was a member of the Dublin City Brigade, where he was murdered by enemy forces.

Volunteer Patrick O’Dea
Aged 19
Clohanes – Cree Coy. 3rd Batt. West Clare Brigade

Native of Carrowmore North, Doonbeg. Received his education in the Clohanes National School. He was an athletic youth who enjoyed all forms of outdoor sports, and had an excellent record as a long distance swimmer. His membership in the IRA began in 1920, and throughout the Black and Tan War he was an active and faithful volunteer. In 1922 he became a member of the West Clare Active service Unit and was fatally wounded in action at Ballykett, Kilrush in July 1922. He was buried with Military Honours in the Republican Plot at Doonbeg.

Volunteers John O’Gorman & Patrick O’Dea, c.1922.
(L-R) Volunteers John O’Gorman & Patrick O’Dea, c.1922.
Murphy Hynes Kilkee Collection.

Volunteer John O’Gorman
Aged 22
Clohanes – Cree Coy. 3rd Batt. West Clare Brigade.

Native of Cloonagarnane, Clohanes, Doonbeg. Educated in the Clohanes National School. His initiation in the IRA dated from 1917, on the formation of the Volunteers in that area. An energetic and conscientious youth, he engaged in all Coy. activities in that area during the Black and Tan War. In 1922 he volunteered for service in the West Clare Active Service Unit, and was fatally wounded in action at Kildysart in August 1922. He was buried with Military Honours in the Republican Plot at Doonbeg.

Capt. Sean (Jack) O’Halloran

Born in Crusheen, Co. Clare, July 1901. Joined the IRA Movement, 1917. Member of Crusheen Piper Band–well-known band which took part in all National movements in Clare and neighbouring counties. In 1922 he joined the IRA Company to take over British Police Barracks in Co. Clare and was stationed in Miltown Malbay and Ennistymon. He was killed at Bunahowe between Gort and Ennis at the early age of 21 years. He was buried in his own native parish church-yard. Under the command of the late Commandant Peadar O’Loughlin and the members of all ranks of the Mid-North Clare Brigades, headed by his own Pipers’ Band, he was laid to rest on 17th July, 1922.
May he rest in peace.

Volunteer Thomas O’Lochlainn
5th Battalion, Mid Clare Brigade

Born and education in Carron – with membership in the Volunteers before 1916. He was a Pioneer of the Sinn Fein and Volunteer Movements in the Carron area prior to 1916. His death in 1919 was much regretted and a severe loss to the organization in that district.

Col. Commandant Peadar O’Loghlen
Tullagh, Kilfenora, 5th Batt. M.C.B.
1st Western Division

Peadar O'Loghlen, c.1919
Peadar O'Loghlen, c.1919. Miscellaneous Photographs Collection

Peadar O’Loghlen joined the volunteers in 1914; in that year he also joined the IRB. On learning of the Rising of 1916, with Martin Devitt they mobilized a local company, seized arms and held themselves in readiness for action whilst awaiting orders from Dublin. After 1916 Peadar organized volunteers throughout Battalion area. His first encounter with enemy forces occurred at Ennistymon during a reception for Countess Madame Markeivicz where he commanded a well-disciplined group of volunteers and ordered the RIC from the railway station and off the streets, after which he had to go “on the run” to avoid arrest. In 1918 he was appointed Q.M. of the Mid Clare Brigade. His new duties took him to Dublin occasionally where he took part in actions with Peadar Clancy. He was wounded at Sheshymore where he led an attack on military forces. On the death of Martin Devitt he was appointed Vice Brigadier of the Mid-Clare Brigade under Commandant Frank Barrett. During a visit of a GHQ officer, Ernie O’Malley, Peadar accompanied him to each company area of the Brigade. He then assisted in organizing the First Brigade Flying Column under Joe Barrett, subsequently taking part in all engagements of the Column.

He commanded a section of the Column at Monreal Ambush where his brother Pat was wounded, and at other ambush positions. Following the truce under the leadership of Frank Barrett, he assisted in taking over the barracks in the Brigade area and replaced the British forces with IRA men. He opposed the Treaty in 1921.

On formation of the 1st Western Division, he was appointed Divisional Adjutant and took part in military conferences in early 1922 at Galway, Limerick and Dublin, in an effort to prevent hostilities. He was in charge of Corrofin IRA Barracks, the last Republican stronghold to be evacuated in Clare. He died a few days later whilst re-grouping Republican troops. Peadar had that quality of personality and handsome manly bearing that made him a great favourite with his associates. His popularity as a soldier, a friend and a man could be measured only by the sense of loss felt by all who knew him.

Patrick O’Mahony
Ennis Company, 1st Battalion
Mid Clare Brigade
Executed in Ennis

Born in Ennis, and received a National School Education there. After completing his education he went to work for his Father, who engaged in a Shoe Making business in the town of Ennis. During his apprenticeship he became unhappy, and hoping to satisfy some of his adventurous desires he enlisted in the British Army. On termination of his service he returned to Ennis and became a member of the IRA. In 1921 he was active as a drill instructor. He became attached to the Active Service Unit of the 1st Batt., in 1922, and was later arrested. He was sentenced to death and executed in Ennis (aged 24).

Volunteer William O’Shaughnessy
Aged 18
Ennis Company, 1st Battalion
Mid Clare Brigade
Executed in Ennis

Born in Ennis and educated in the Ennis National School. He was brought up in the Turnpike and was the son of honest hard working parents. Prior to his Active Service in the IRA he was employed as a Mailman. He went on Active Service in 1922, and following his arrest he was sentenced to death. His execution took place in Ennis. With a feeling of patriotic duty, this noble and determined youth of eighteen made the Supreme Sacrifice with calmness and unusual courage. His untimely death was a severe shock to all.

Christopher Quinn
(Aged 18)
Mid Clare Brigade
Executed in Ennis

Christy Quinn was born and educated in Ennis. He was a member of a large family, and lived in the Turnpike with his Father, Brothers and Sisters. His father was employed as a Printer in the Clare Champion Office, and Christy was serving an apprenticeship (at Browns) in the Tailoring business. He was attached to E Company Ennis, and in 1922 he volunteered for Active Service in the 1st Batt. He was arrested later and sentenced to “Death,” and Executed in his own home town of Ennis. Much could be said about the high ideals and patriotic principles of this youthful teenager, whose courage, loyalty and devotion was an inspiration to all who knew him. For a true evaluation of his noble motives we have printed here a copy of his last letter to his Father.

Christy Quinn’s Last Letter To His Father On The Eve Of His Execution

Home Barracks, Ennis

Dearest Father,

My last letter to you; I know it is hard, but welcome be the will of God. I am to be executed in the morning, but I hope you will try and bear it. Tell Katie not to be fretting for me as it was all for Ireland; it is rough on my brothers and sisters–poor Jim, John, Joe, Paddy, Michael, Cissie, Mary Margaret–hope you will mind them and try to put them in good positions. Tell them to pray for me. Well father, I am taking it great, as better men than ever I was fell. You have a son that you can be proud of, as I think I have done my part for the land I love. Tell all the neighbours in the Turnpike to pray for me. Tell Nanna, Mary and Jimmy to pray for me, Joe, Sean, Mago, Julia, Mrs. Considine and family, also Joe McCormack, the Browne family, my uncle Jim and the Tipperary people which I knew. I hope you will mind yourself, and do not fret for me. With the help of God I will be happy with my mother in Heaven, and away from all the trouble of this world, so I think I will be happy. Tell Mrs. O’Shaughnessy not to fret as myself and Willie were pals together and will die together. He is a good lad – he is a soldier to the end. Well father, I don’t think I have much more to say. Tell the Guiton family to pray for me, as I know they will feel it very much. I know it is hard on you, but with God’s help you will get out of it.

Dear father, I will now say goodbye – goodbye ‘till we meet in heaven.

I remain,
Your loving son,

IRA Volunteers' Memorial, Drumcliff Graveyard to Patrick Mahony, Christopher Quinn, William O'Shaughnessy and James Glynn
IRA Volunteers' Memorial, Drumcliff Graveyard to Patrick Mahony, Christopher Quinn,
William O'Shaughnessy and James Glynn. Graveyard Inscriptions Collection.

William Shanahan
Brigade Chief of IRA Police
West Clare Brigade
Murdered by British Forces
22nd December, 1920

William Shanahan was born at Ocean View, Doughmore, Doonbeg, on 28th October, 1896. He was the oldest of a family of nine – six boys and three girls. He received his early education at Clohanes National School and later attended the Kilrush Christian Brothers. During his early teens he developed a keen interest in all forms of outdoor sports and took part in many competitive events. He played football with the parish team, and on occasions his name appeared among those receiving honorable mention. He was an expert marksman and an outstanding figure in the field of Horsemanship. He won the respect and admiration of the people of West Clare for his skillful and daring performances in exhibition jumping.

In 1917, on the initiation of the Volunteer and Sinn Féin Movements, he became one of its earliest members. Fully realizing the ideals and confident of the success of the IRA objective, he worked with fervour in its ranks and earned the genuine appreciation of his comrade officers and men. From the beginning he held rank in the local Volunteer Company at Clohanes, and, due to his courage and initiative, he was soon called upon to fill more important positions.

Volunteer John Sharry
4th Battalion, Mid Clare Brigade

Born and educated in Liscannor – with membership in the Volunteers from 1917, and had a very active record in his district. He was shot by the Black and Tans near Moymore Church which resulted in death some time later.

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