North Kerry in the Irish Civil War

North Kerry in the Irish Civil War

(and a bit before)

1879-89 The Land War The agrarian agitators followed their own long tradition which had been firmly established in the Tithe War (1821). On the one hand landlords were shot and intimidated. On the other, security of tenure was maintained even against forced evictions by imposing a fierce discipline on local people. Those who attempted to take holdings from which people had been evicted and those who-when shortly afterwards a rent strike was declared-paid any rents at all were mercilessly intimidated-by boycott, by shooting (usually in the leg), by murder, by the maiming of animals.

Castleisland was a centre of really serious and prolonged disorder. The first outrage nearby occurred on 10 September 1879 when a band of armed men reinstated in her holding the evicted Widow Leary. The hated land agent Sam Hussey retorted, in future, by burning the houses of those evicted. Fire was met by fire. Eventually, in 1884, Hussey was himself burned out. As a foreshadowing of things to come, 11 policemen in the district, disgusted by the evictions, resigned. This agrarian disorder was the work of groups, in the Whiteboy tradition, called 'moonlighters'. It is claimed that the first group of moonlighters was formed in Castleisland in 1879. It was necessary to institute nightly patrols by some 140 soldiers and police to limit moonlighting in the area. A special police tax was imposed on the Castleisland area until the worst of the trouble had ceased early in 1884. (Discovering Kerry, p. 119)

While the Church generally strongly disapproved of this violence, especially the Bishop of Kerry, not all priests were so moved. One, in a sermon admonishing his parishioners on the evils of drink, lectured: "It's whiskey makes you "bate" your wives; it's whiskey makes your houses desolate; it's whiskey makes you shoot your landlords; and it's whiskey makes you miss them." (Discovering Kerry, p. 120)

1881- Land Commission established. Transfer of land to small owners. Parliamentary bills were passed in 1884 (the Ashbourne Lane Act) and 1903 (the Wyndham Act) which first allowed, but then financed, the purchase of property by tenants. It also provided for the establishment of fair rents for those who could not yet purchase the land they were living and working on. The result on one Co. Limerick piece of property was that the rent was first established as being 9£ and 1 Shilling per year. In 1906, the property was valued at £203 and it was sold to the new owner for a mortgage fee of £6 and 12 shillings annually. In 1834, the Landlord for that same parcel of land was charging £31 and 4 shillings annually for rent, with no guarantee that the lease would be renewed. (Toomey & Greensmyth, p. 123)

1882 Arthur Herbert, related to the local landlord family who was given their land in 1580, and an unpopular magistrate is murdered just outside Castleisland. He was known for evictions and stiff sentences. On the day of his death, he had sentenced a John Casey to jail for one month for being drunk and disorderly. He was shot while walking home. No witnesses came forward and no one was convicted. A popular song was written about the event. (Flynn)

1883 Lord Headley (Baron Allanson and Winn of Aghadoe) one of the original proprietors in the Castleisland area, declares bankruptcy. The rentals from his English estates were insufficient to meet the charges on them, while receipts from the Irish estates "had latterly practically ceased to exist." As tenants ceased paying rents, the bankruptcy of the major estates became a common occurrence throughout Ireland, leading to numerous auctions of mansions of these "encumbered estates" and the subsequent breaking of the large parcels into manageable sized farmsteads for the Irish tenants.

September, 1891- Parnell, who had disbanded the Land League, was now concentrating on the gaining of Home Rule for Ireland. He held one of his last public meetings in Listowel campaigning in a by-election for a candidate. There, the Knocknagashel Gaelic football team presented their addresses of support, carrying the banner which has ever since been associated with the little community: "Arise, Knocknagashel and take your place among the nations of the earth." (O'Shea) The slogan dates back to Robert Emmet, one of the heroes of the failed Rising of 1803. He asked that no monument be erected to him until "Ireland had taken its place among the nations of the earth."

The main campaign issue was Parnell's personal honor as some time before his adulterous relationship with a woman named Kitty O'Shea had been exposed. The Church made this affair the issue of the election. Three weeks later, on October 16, he was dead of rheumatic fever, caught in the damp and cold of the campaign. (Flynn)(McCaffrey)

1893- Gaelic League Founded

1903- The Wyndham Land Act. An agreement was reached on the basis of the long term purchase of Irish estates which would secure the landlords against loss, and while making the purchase money of their farms higher to the tenants would enable them to secure money at a low rate of interest, and secure them their land at a fixed annuity which would be lower than the rent they had been paying. The English government financed the purchases. When the Irish Free State was finally formed in 1922, the repayment of this cash advance was one of the thorny issues to be resolved.

1905- Sinn Fein ("Ourselves Alone") formed.

1914- Home Rule granted. World War I begins, England becomes preoccupied and the implementation of Home Rule is postponed.

1914- Castleisland was a center of considerable bitterness and unrest from the Land War to the Civil War period. A large meeting in support of the Irish Volunteers was held in the town in April, 1914 and a local branch of the Volunteers was subsequently formed. The Irish Volunteers were raised as a result of the formation of Ulster Volunteers in that part of Ireland. In May 1916 the London Scottish regiment moved into Castleisland and arrested a number of men. Many ambushes and attacks were planned on the British forces in the area but most were not brought to fruition. (Flynn)

1916- Irish War of Independence & Civil War

(thanks to Jim Curran)

"THE" war is almost certainly one of two. The first started with the Easter Rising of 1916 which was quickly put down (one week) and flared up again in 1918 when the English refused to honor their promises to grant home rule after 100,000 Irish Redmonites gave their lives in WWI on the basis of that promise. Sir Roger Casement was an Englishman who spent his life in Britain's colonial service. He was knighted for his contributions. In his later life, he became appalled by the treatment of the Irish by the English and became part of the movement that led up to the Easter Rising of 1916. Like so many others who believed that England's enemy was Ireland's friend, he became involved with the Germans who promised to provide munitions for a general rising. This was partially in response to the 1912 delivery at Howth of 100,000 rifles to the Protestants of what was to become Northern Ireland that the English very conveniently overlooked.

The German ship "Aud" was bringing a shipment of 10,000 rifles and ammo and was prepared to offload them at a deserted beach, Banna Strand, near Tralee, but, like so many Irish plans for rebellions, wires got crossed and the rebels never received their arms. Casement was captured, tried, convicted, executed and buried in an unmarked grave in England. That war lasted until late 1921. (Some will say 1922; it depends on what you consider the end of the war.) Peace negotiations were conducted by the Irish, Michael Collins & Arthur Griffith primarily. They went in looking for and expecting an independent Republic of Ireland. While the Irish still had the will to wage war, they no longer had the means. The English, on the other hand, had the means, but not the will. The atrocities of the English, particularly the Black and Tans, an extra-legal police/paramilitary force recruited by the English from War officer veterans, so inflamed world opinion that the English decided to get by deceit and trickery what they could not win in battle.

The peace negotiations ended w/ English Prime minister David Lloyd George delivering an ultimatum to the Irish negotiators. "Accept partition, status as part of the UK, and a loyalty oath to the crown, or we will wage total and horrible warfare." Griffith, Collins and the other negotiators accepted the terms as the best they could get at the time. Among other things they were also promised a Border Commission that would adjust the borders of the newly created state, Northern Ireland, after peace was made.

However, the negotiators acted without consultation with Dublin, particularly Eamon deValera, head of the IRA who had fought and won the war. Back in Ireland, the negotiators found themselves shunned by many of their former compatriots who wanted total independence from England. However, the terms they negotiated were finally approved by Dail Eirann (the shadow parliament of the rebel state).

There then ensued an argument that tore the land apart, created the background for the current Troubles in Northern Ireland and still enflames the emotions of large portions of the Republic. The former compatriots now differed on one and only one subject: whether they could trust the English.

Eamon deValera split with Michael Collins and took his lads out to continue the battle for an Independent Republic. He and those who followed him believed no Englishman's promise could be trusted and that the English had no intention of honoring the terms of peace. Collins became the Prime Minister of the Free State of Ireland (what is now the Republic) which remained a member of the British Commonwealth, still received a Lord Lieutenant appointed by the King and still owed England the monies which were advanced for the financing of the purchase of land by tenants.

The hatreds within families and within towns over the Civil War exist today not far below the surface. You speak to Irish men and women on these subjects at your peril. A misstep can place you on one side or the other in the wink of an eye. Many people still alive are affected by it, many had parents killed or maimed. And it can never be satisfactorily resolved while the initial irritant - the partitioning of Ireland - still exists to keep the embers of rebellion glowing. For Irish genealogists, the Civil War was an unmitigated disaster. Early in the century, the Irish government had demanded that each parish and each civil government office turn over their vital records to the central government for safekeeping and greater access. They were stored at the Four Courts. The New IRA took over the Four Courts as their headquarters. The Free State, at English insistence and with Collins leadership, decided to root out the New IRA, and, using English artillery, bombarded the Four Courts.

The New IRA was driven out, but the fires started by the shelling destroyed the centralized vital records. Only those places that were too lazy to respond to the central government orders, or who first made copies of their records before surrendering them, still have their own vital records. That's why researching Irish roots is so difficult. (Curran)


1916 After the Easter Rising, the Irish Republic was declared, and the Irish Volunteers were organized under the leadership of Arthur Griffiths and Eamon de Valera, but controlled by the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Guerrilla war was carried out sporadically until January 21, 1919 when an IRA ambush of two RIC constables caused things to break wide open.

The War was mainly limited to Dublin and Munster and IRA victories were few and far between. Conflict consisted largely of ambushes by "flying columns" and brutal reprisals by "Black and Tans."

1920 Government of Ireland Act; Ireland partitioned. Black & Tans and Auxiliaries arrive.

1920 On June 17, 1920 the Royal Irish Constabulary constables in Listowel barracks were ordered to hand over the barracks to British troops, and to transfer to different stations. They refused in what became known as the Mutiny of Listowel Barracks. The town also featured in the Civil War and in August 1922, 240 troops who had crossed the Shannon from the north took Listowel and later all of Kerry. (Flynn)

1922-1923 Civil War

Jan 16, 1922 The English turned over the keys to Dublin Castle to Michael Collins and the IRA.

April 13, 1922 The men of the IRA's #1 Dublin Brigade, abetted by Tipperary troops, opposed to the treaty with England which allowed for a Commonwealth status for Ireland with the King still the nominal head of government, took over the Four Courts in Dublin, the center of the country's legal system and the home of the National Archives. May, 1922. Over eighty groups of workers took over their companies from the owners, and emulating Lenin in Bolshevik Russia, started short lived "workers soviets."

June 26, 1922 The occupiers of the Four Courts, surrounded and out of communications with their IRA leaders, detonated two mines in the Archives office which they had made into their munitions center. Many of Irish public records including the original copies of all wills were destroyed in the blast. [Compiler's note: until the recent discovery of the existance of Reidy wills dating back to about 1755, no concern was felt by him. Now he is OUTRAGED.)

Summer, 1922 The Civil War actually started with IRA "Irregular" troops taking over towns and barracks in heavy fighting, being then driven out of their positions by Free State troops, then resorting to a guerrilla phase of ambushes and reprisals.

Perhaps 800 were killed on each side, and an unknown number of civilians. The Irregulars did not have much civilian support and had the double disadvantage of fighting their ex-comrades, who well knew of their hiding places and personnel. Women were their couriers for communications. "The guerrilla war was fought most fiercely in Kerry, an area where the Free State troops found it very difficult to make headway. However, despite advance warnings, the Irregulars failed to defend Kerry against sea landings, and were driven out of Fenit, Tarbert, Listowel and Kenmare. They still held some towns, and continued a very vigorous programme of ambushes and flying column attacks; they had a lot of support from the local population, and maintained a strong resistance until the end." (The Irish Civil War, by Helen Litton, p. 98)

January, 1923 The Ambush of Capt. Pat Cove The following is a brief account of the shooting dead of free state officer Pat Coye at Feale Bridge in January, 1923. Later that fatal day in the ongoing battle a member of the attacking Republican party Jerry Lyons was shot dead at Mein.

Capt. P. Coye left Brosna Barracks at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, 27th January 1923, with five other soldiers and traveled towards Abbeyfeale. When they approached a bend on the road at Kilmanihan East, fire was opened on them from about 100 yards away with rifles and machine guns from the side of a cliff. After about ten minutes they were surrounded and machine guns were turned on them from behind. Darcy, one of the soldiers, was wounded and when called on to surrender, Capt. Coye said he would not surrender and told Darcy to say his prayers. He shouted also the First Westerns never surrender. He then fell and when asked if he was shot he made no reply. John Keogh and Bartly Carrig, two of his comrades, were also wounded.

Before the ambush part of the Feale Bridge was blown up and guarded by a party of I.R.A. men, under the command of Jerry O'Leary, on the Kerry side of the bridge. Brosna barracks was also sniped during the attack to prevent assistance reaching the ambushed patrol.

After the surrender of the soldiers the attackers, under the command of Humphrey Murphy retreated towards Castleisland via the Meenleitrim road. Sometime later, word was sent to Capt. Fallon who was traveling from Newcastle West to Listowel. He collected a few men from the post at Abbeyfeale and went in the direction of the ambush. When he reached Feale Bridge he saw that it had been blown up and covered by heavy rifle fire from the Listowel side. He succeeded however in crossing the river and was joined by Capt. Con Brosnan. They fired some shots at the retreating I.R.A. men. Capt. Fallon and his companion Capt. Mortel commandeered a horse and side car, donned two women's shawls and drove along on the side car towards Meenleitrim. They caught up with the retreating men near Meenleitrim Bog.

Capt. Fallon then rested his rifle o the ditch and fired at them. At this stage young Denny O'Connor was shot dead and Jerry Lyons was wounded on his hip. The dead body of Denny O'Connor was then taken to Abbeyfeale. Jerry Lyons and a number of hostages were then taken to Abbeyfeale. Lyons was questioned by the army at Abbeyfeale and was later removed to hospital. The body of Capt. Coye was later taken to Limerick and then to Craughwell by train, from where it was taken to Loughrea Cathedral. He was buried in Kilchriest Cemetery.
(from Knocknagashel Then and Now, No. 11, 1994 1923)

On March 6, Lieutenant O'Connor, noted for his cruel methods while interrogating Republican prisoners, was killed by a mine along with two other officers and two Free State troopers at Knocknagashel. The Free State commander in the area announced that Republican prisoners were to be used to clear mines in the future. Many reprisals occurred throughout Kerry as a result of the event. In particular prisoners were tied together around land mines and, and in one case near Tralee, the mines were deliberately detonated. Miraculously, three survived but six were blown to bits. There was nearly a riot in Tralee when the families wanted to open the coffins. 19 prisoners in all were killed without a trial and the reprisals have blackened the reputation of the Free State Army ever since. All in all, 69 soldiers were killed in the County. (Flynn, Discovering Kerry and The Irish Civil War, Litton)

Date: Sun, 16 Nov 1997
From: Paddy Newell (
Subject: Tragedy in Kerry/History

From Repubican News 16 November 97
Tragedies of Kerry

In the southwest corner of Ireland 75 years ago, at the end of 1922 and through 1923, a campaign of terror was carried out by the fledgling Irish Free State against those who were in opposition to its founding. The savagery of the acts committed by soldiers of the state's new army against men who were in many cases former comrades was barbaric and against the conventions of any type of war. Aengus O Snodaigh looks back at one of darkest periods in Ireland's bloody civil war.

"Around Kerry, in the autumn and winter of 1922 and the spring of 1923, an ominous wall of silence was drawn. The rumours that came through were so terrible that they were scarcely believed, Those rumours were less terrible than the truth."


Tragedies of Kerry

by Doherty McArdle
Much of the story of what happened in Kerry in those years remains due to the efforts of Doherty McArdle, author of the Irish Republic, who broke the silence which surrounded official and unofficial state murders in Kerry in publishing her pamphlet 'Tragedies of Kerry' in 1924. It is still a much sought-after publication with many editions selling out within days of publishing.

Mirroring the tactics of Britain's Black and Tans in the previous two years, the new state undertook to terrorize the republican people of Kerry into submission (very few Kerry Volunteers of the Tan War period went with the Free State). For having the gall to challenge the legitimacy of the new state, many men in County Kerry and in other areas around Ireland were to pay with their lives.

Rather than try to tackle Kerry republicans head-on, the Free State soldiers, in a classic military maneuver, succeeded in landing 500 soldiers in Fenit behind the republican positions, thus encircling them on 2 August 1922. More landed a week later. Even though it was Liam Lynch's view on 17 September that "the development of the campaign has been more rapid and satisfactory in Kerry than anywhere else", and the fact that the IRA would succeed on several occasions in putting several hundred Volunteers in the field, the future did not auger well.

As other republican positions fell around the country, the IRA was fighting a rearguard action, heavily outnumbered, starved of funds, weaponry and equipment and in the main living on the run. The safe house they used previously and the people they depended on in the past were known to their former comrades who were trying to get them in their sights. It was only a matter of time before they had to withdraw from the field in the face of an army which was well-paid, equipped by the British and with orders from Michael Collins, Richard Mulcahy, Arthur Griffith and Kevin O'Higgins, to spare nobody and be as ruthless as required. The Free State soldiers involved in unofficial executions only mirrored the state policy of official execution, only they didn't bother going through the pretense of court cases.

With all the talk of apologies for Bloody Sunday, the Famine, the government in Dublin should be mindful that not only has there never been an apology for the state's execution of 77 prisoners in a period of six months, but there has never been an official admission that the state's soldiers were involved in summary executions across the country for the duration of what is now known as the Civil War.

In Kerry, the barbarity began 25 days after the Fenit landing. Sean Moriarty and James Healy were captured and marched through Tralee to Balloonagh Convent where both were shot. Healy survived, but Moriarty was riddled.

Seventeen-year-old Bertie Murphy was next to die. He had been captured with a rifle in his possession. For five days they used him as a shield to try to avoid attack from his IRA comrades and forced him to dismantle barricades in the area in case they were booby-trapped. On 19 September, while under guard in the Great Southern Hotel Killarney, word came in of an IRA ambush. Bertie was thrown down the steps of the hotel and shot dead by an officer. Officially he died in an ambush in Brennan's Glen.

Following the failure of republicans to recapture Killorglin the prisoners were to be transferred to Tralee. En route all the prisoners except one, Jack Galvin, were forced to remove felled trees from the road. When they returned to the trucks he was missing. Next day his body was found behind a tree in Ballyseedy Wood where the trucks had halted.

John Lawlor was unlucky to be captured wounded during an engagement in Ballyheighue. He was shot dead and dumped at the church gate on the morning of October 31.

On 2 November Michael O'Sullivan and Danny Connor held a party of 40 Free State soldiers under Captain 'Tiny' Lyons at bay for two hours outside Headford, before being wounded. Connor succeeded in making good his escape. Unarmed and wounded, O'Sullivan was executed.

On 11 November Patrick Lynch of Moyrisk was unarmed when he was shot dead at his house. At Currahane Sands beyond Ardfert a drunken raiding party succeeded in capturing Eugene Fitzgerald at his aunt's house. On the journey to Tralee jail his left leg was broken and crushed to a pulp and he was shot through the side in an attempt to get him to reveal the whereabouts of the local IRA column. He died from his wounds a few days later on 16 January 1923.

Under the hay in Mrs. Lyons' barn in the same area was where Michael Sinnot (18) and James O'Connor (19) had their dug-out. On 13 February a local lad and two others were arrested and beaten to inform on the whereabouts of the two in the dug-out. The young lad, Greer, broke and agreed to show the locations. The two Volunteers were riddled as they slept in their dug-out. Thomas O'Sullivan of Ballineanin was summarily executed while wounded on 18 February.

But for an accident what actually happened at Ballyseedy Cross, County Kerry, 75 years ago might never be known. Officially nine IRA prisoners were blown up by mines attached to barricades on the Killorglin Road. The truth was more horrific and the deaths at Ballyseedy Cross on 7 March came to symbolize the excesses of the new state.

The events of those dark days in Kerry can be summed up by the statement of the commander of the Free Staters in January 1923, Paddy Daly: "Nobody asked me to take any kid gloves to Kerry and I didn't take them".

Nine prisoners, Stephen Fuller, John Daly, George Shea, Timothy Twomey, Patrick Hartnett, James Connell, John O'Connor, Patrick Buckley and James Walsh, were taken from Tralee to be killed. It was concluded afterwards that the barbaric execution was a form of reprisal for the IRA's blowing up of a torturer Lieutenant O'Connor along with two captains and two privates at Knocknagashel earlier in March. Reprisals against republican prisoners, instituted by the Free State government in Mountjoy Jail in 8 December 1922 had become a systematic practice in their jails in the next few months.

John Daly was captured on 4 February and beaten so badly that his spine was irreparably damaged. Michael Connell was arrested at a local dance in the middle of February. James Walsh was a local IRA leader and Patrick Buckley was a former RIC man who handed the barracks over to the local IRA before the truce in 1921. George Shea, Tim Twomey, John Shanahan and Stephen Fuller were captured in a dug-out on 21 February and interrogated in Ballymullen Barracks, Tralee. 'Interrogation' involved being blind-folded, arms tied to the side and beaten about the head and back with a hammer by David Neligan, one of the many of Collins's Squad drafted into the area to exact revenge on republicans. When this failed, shots were fired close to their heads, Before their 'trial' Fuller was shown nine coffins in the barracks. Shanahan collapsed from his injuries and this saved him when his comrades were taken out.

The nine prisoners were put on a lorry with a heavy escort and driven along the Castleisland Road until they reached a log across the road. Here they were strapped to a mine at the log and this was detonated by the soldiers before they threw a few grenades and fired at the remains of the dead.

Miraculously, one man survived uninjured, through his clothes were burnt off him. His comrades had borne the brunt of the explosion and he had been thrown clear. His name appeared on one of the nine coffins containing what remains of a soldier scraped up and which the Free State released to the relatives. Such was the furor when they opened the coffins and they saw the mutilated remains of their loved ones that the Free State authorities issued the following proclamation on 21 March:

"Prisoners who die in military custody in the Kerry Command shall be interred by the troops in the area in which the death has taken place."

Stephen Fuller succeeded in getting to the IRA dug-out behind May Dalaigh's house at Cnocan and his account was given to the newspapers by John Joe Sheehy. Fuller's family were hounded for decades afterwards; he was never forgiven for surviving or for telling the truth.

On the same day at Countess Bridge in Killarney four prisoners from the Great Southern Hotel Barracks were blown up and machine-gunned; another, Tadhg Coffey, succeeded in escaping. The dead were Stephen Buckley of Rathdrinagh, Dan Donoghue of Lacca, Tim Murphy of Rathbrean and Jer Donoghue. Another man, the tailor in the barracks who had befriended the prisoners, Sugrue, was executed by the soldiers when they returned to the barracks.

Five days later, Dan Shea, John Sugrue, Willie Riordan, Eugene Dwyer and Mike Courtney, who had been arrested while attending a wake were brought from Bahaghs Workhouse Barracks, Cahirciveen and blown up by soldiers of Collins's Dublin Guards, who were responsible for many of the atrocities in the Kerry area.

One Free State officer, Lieutenant McCarthy, later gave an account of what occurred and resigned from the army. He said:

"There was no attempt to escape, as the prisoners were shot first and then put over a mine and blown up. It was a Free State mine, laid by themselves. It is a murder gang that is going around trying to keep on the war."

On 11 March Frank Grady was shot dead while under escort by Captain 'Tiny' Lyons. Two days later Seamus Taylor of Glencar who had been captured in his mother's house, was brought to Ballyseeedy Wood after a day's 'interrogation' and riddled. On 15 March, the day after Grady and Taylor were buried, John Kevins of Beaufort was wounded while buying cigarettes and died later being refused proper medical aid which had been proffered. Another Beaufort man, Jeremiah Casey was found dead having been lured to the barracks on some pretext.

Bob McCarthy of Monaree was burned in the Workhouse in Tralee the day after he was captured and brutalized on 25 March, Two days later James Walsh of Currow was another victim of the roadside execution at the cross of Glountrane. The next night Jack Fleming, who had been captured earlier, was taken from Ballymullen Barracks where he died. Two other unarmed Volunteers were gunned down after surrendering in the Derry na Feena area on 6 April, George Nagle and Conway O'Connor.

On 13 April John Linnane was shot in the face when emerging from a dug-out which was being searched by Free Staters. On the 24th Daniel Murphy was taken to a field near his home in Knocknagashel and executed.

The story of Aero Lyons and his five comrades and how they stood siege for three nights and three days in Clashmealcon Caves captures the determination of Kerry republicans and the barbarity of the Free State forces. Surrounded in Drumfort's Cave, named after a Fenian who hid there in 1867, seven Volunteers held off a huge Free State contingent. Two of the Volunteers, Tommy McGrath and Patrick O'Shea died when they fell into the sea as they were trying to get reinforcements.

Trapped in the cave the other Volunteers braved a barrage of fire bombs, grenades, and rifle fire as well as the Atlantic wind and the raging sea which was threatening to engulf their cave, before emerging to negotiate terms. A rope lowered to bring up 'Aero' Lyons was severed as he reached the cliff edge. When he hit the rocks below, he was riddled by the soldiers. The remaining four were taken up and three, Jim McEnery, Rudge Hathaway, and Edward Greaney were executed seven days after Aero died. The remaining one, Jimmy McGrath, who had been tortured before leading the soldiers to the caves was let go. Kerry republicans paid a heavy price for standing with the Republic against the barbarism of the Free State 75 years ago. Their deaths and the way they died shall not be forgotten, but remembered to show the extremes which the fledgling state would stoop to prop up herself and the determination of republicans to resist its illegal rule and to defend the ideals of the Republic.

From RM_Distribution, an Irish Republican news and information service. --
May 24, 1923 De Valera, ordering the troops to surrender their arms, issued the following proclamation: "Military victory must be allowed to rest for the moment, with those who have destroyed the Republic. You have saved the nation's honour, preserved the sacred national tradition, and kept open the road of independence." deValera went to jail for a year, formed the Fianna Fail "Soldiers of Destiny" Party in 1927, and became Prime Minister (Taoiseach) in 1932, admitting, finally, his surprise at how much independence the Treaty with England had actually given the Free State. (The Irish Civil War, Litton)

December 4, 1823 At about 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 4th, 1923, 6 masked men with rifles entered Civic Guard Station in Scartaglin, County Kerry. Guard Patrick Spillane who was in the kitchen was ordered up stairs with his hands up and told to strip off his uniform. He refused and was told that he would be shot. He replied that he was not afraid to die in defence of his uniform. He was then set upon and forcibly stripped.Sergeant James Woods was located and also ordered up stairs with his hands up. When he got to the second step he was hit between the shoulders with the barrell of a rifle which discharged a bullet shooting him in the head. He died instantly. The raiders ran off with uniforms and money belonging to the Civic Guards.Sergeant Woods from Lisdoonvarna, County Clare, was aged 22 years and unmarried.

1925 Ulster separates from the Free State.

1937 After years of reluctantly following the strictures of being a member of the British Commonwealth, Prime Minister Edmund deValera slowly frees the Irish Free State from the letter of and finally the rule of English Law during the crisis caused by the abdication of Edward VII which preoccupied the English Parliament. The Irish Free State becomes The Republic of Ireland and its Constitution was adopted, claiming all 32 Counties to comprise the country. In 1999, that final provision has been removed.

This information was contributed by Ray Marshall.
This page created January, 2000, for County Kerry, Ireland at


Home | Starting Out | Online Records | Research Kerry | Resource Links |
Site Map | Site Search | Contributors | Guestbook |
Read Copyright © 2000-2017 | Contact

Hope you find this helpful!