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Flying Column

Towards the end of November, 1920, at the brigade council, the question of forming a brigade flying column was discussed. It was agreed that a column should be formed to consist of men on the run, and of six men selected by each battalion, making a total of between 50 and 60 men. Joe Barrett was appointed column commander.

The column assembled for its initial course of training about the middle of December, 1920, in my own native district. Only the 4th and 5th battalions supplied the quota of men asked for, the other battalions sending a couple of men each. However, this presented no difficulty as the 5th battalion - and indeed the 4th - could furnish volunteers galore. The difficulty then was to explain to the men who had not been chosen why they were omitted. In all, I would say that about thirty-five men attended the course.

The training course, which was supervised by the column commander, was conducted by Ignatius O'Neill and Martin Slattery, both ex-British soldiers. It consisted of lectures on the care and mechanism of the Lee Enfield service rifle, aiming exercises and judging distances. While in the district, the men from the outside districts were billetted on the farm houses in Lickeen and Tullaha, but some supplies of food were got from the shopkeepers in Kilfenora. An elaborate scouting system was established to guard against surprise by enemy forces stationed in Ennistymon (three miles), Corofin (eight miles) and Lisdoonvarna (six miles). After the third or fourth day, word was received from Volunteer sources that a convoy of two enemy lorries had started to travel between Ennistymon and Ennis, which were about seventeen miles apart.

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