Rineen Ambush

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Raids and Ambushes - Rineen Ambush

In September, 1920, the 4th battalion brought off an ambush at Rineen, about two miles from Miltown-Malbay, in which six R.I.C. men were killed and the lorry in which they travelled, together with all the arms and equipment, was captured. Though I offered whatever assistance I could in the way of men and arms for this attack, I was led to understand that all that was wanted was five or six rifles and some .303 ammunition. These were made available, and there was an arrangement between myself and the 4th battalion officers that I should take about half a dozen men with me to Ennistymon the night of the ambush where I would get back the rifles I had lent and assist in attacking the enemy, should he attempt reprisals in the town.

Unfortunately, though I attended at the appointed place with my men, none of the 4th battalion turned up. The enemy did carry out most frightful reprisals that night and there was no one to molest them. It was a splendid chance lost because the British forces - R.I.C., Black and Tans and military - all went berserk in their orgy of destruction, becoming frightfully drunk in the process and, throwing all precaution to the winds, became sitting ducks for properly placed ambushers. Perhaps it is only just to add that, after capturing the lorry, the 4th battalion men were surprised by enemy reinforcements and were lucky to escape with only a few wounded. The wounded included the Battalion Commandant. In effecting their retreat, his men became widely separated, and that night they were scattered in small groups over an area about ten miles wide. It would have been practically impossible to have them re-assembled in time to deal with the enemy engaged in reprisals between Miltown-Malbay, Lahinch and Ennistymon.

Less than a week after Rineen, a daylight raid by a party of R.I.C. and Tans was made on the village of Kilfenora in my battalion area. They looted a number of shops in the village and then cleared out. In the surrounding country, they shot a stallion and a number of cattle. Owing to the suddenness of the raid, it was not possible to interfere with the intruders.

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