At War with the Black and Tans
A few days before Ken Loach's film The Wind That Shakes The Barley was due for release I received the following email from Joe Williams in Ireland:
Enclosed is the email address for the National Archives whom
would send to you by link the files 929 and 1435 of National Military
Archives. In them there is the ordering of execution of three
captured Black and Tans by Donnacha O hAnnagain and his overseeing
of this. Also Donnacha wanted to execute someone because they
burned Davey Clancy's homestead in Cush but Clancy would not allow
(Davey Clancy was a lieutenant in the the Ballylanders Company IRA and had housed Dan Breen and Sean Tracey after the Knocklong rescue. Pat was VC of the Third Tipperary Flying Column and was shot dead in Kanturk on 17 August 1920.)
Who was Donnacha O hAnnagain?
My friend in Ballylanders, Councillor John Gallahue, who has
written extensively about the history of the local area, speaks
with great admiration about O hAnnagain. Major General Donncadh
O hAnnagain led a number of ambushes against the British forces
in southeast Limerick, under the Galtee Mountains. On another
page on my website I provide an account of the unveiling of a
plaque in his honour in 2002 on the Boro Road, Anglesboro.
O hAnnagain was my grandfather Jack Cleary's first cousin and
was born on the Boro Road, Anglesboro - to Honora Cleary and James Hannigan - where all my Clearys were
born. It was from here O hAnnagain's uncles, my great grandfather John Cleary (1842-1881)
and his brother Dinny (1843-1912) left for Australia
in October 1863.
Like his mother, Honora Cleary, Donnacadh O hAnnagain was an Irish
speaker. Sadly, although his uncles Dinny and John spoke Gaelic
in their village, the language did not survive in Australia.
The Bureau of Military History in Dublin carries a fascinating
account of the activities of the East Limerick Brigade, provided by O hAnnagain in 1951.It was from his horticulture and gardening shop in Mitchelstown Donncadh
Ohannagain began organising.
WORKING FOR THE COUNTESS MARKIEVICZ
In her alluring book, Constance Markievicz - Irish Revolutionary, Anne Haverty tells of how in 1906 a 'gardener was hired, a graduate of Glaznevin Agricultural College called Donald Hannigan (sic), who would also instruct the residents in horticulture and farming' at the seven-acre Belcamp Park commune in Raheny that had become a project for Markievicz.
This section of the book includes a reference to Markievicz's husband - a Polish count - arriving at the commune after an overseas trip to find that the 'gardener had appropriated the only lamp in the house and was reading by its light in the drawing room'. The count was 'appalled' when the gardener simply 'kept on smoking some filthy tobacco with his feet resting on the chimney piece'.
It's rather unfortunate that this fascinating connection between the great IRA man Donncadh OhAnnagain and the famous Markievizc could be overlooked by the author. Maybe one day this, and the role of Donncadh's brother Donal in the Easter Rebellion, will receive some deeper attention.
Four years after the Countess surrendered her post at the College of Surgeons during the 1916 Easter Rebellion Donncadh sprung into action.
A sketch of the battles:
April 1920 - Attack on Ballylanders Barracks
|The view of Ballylanders from the vicinity of original site of the RIC Barracks. The Crowley building on the left belongs to descendents of the original Crowleys and was the target of arson attacks by the British.
28 May 1920 - Attack on Kilmallock Barracks
Thomas Malone (Sean Forde) was in charge. Liam Scully died. OhAnnagain
and Pat Clancy (Cush) attended Scully's funeral in Templegantine
in County Kerry.
|The Kilmallock Barracks building, now a bank, with a small plaque above the driveway acknowledging the death of Liam Scully in 1920.
7 August 1920 - Attack on the Kildorrery - Meadstown road.
On the morning of 7 August Black and Tans in the village of Kildorrery
had been seen dragging a tri-colour in the gutter along the main
street. That done they headed down the Meadstown road, where an
ambush was in readiness. All members of the patrol - six Black
and Tans and two old RIC men - were wounded, two fatally.
A year later the Black and Tans returned to the house where members
of the patrol had been imprisoned while being treated for their wounds and shot
dead a man named O'Donnell. He was a Sinn Feiner but a non-combatant.
10 November 1920 - Attack at Grange
Grange is on the Limerick to Bruff Road. As the IRA was expecting only
two lorries they had to retreat when eight arrived.
|The British arrived along the road on the right and Donncadh OhAnnigain was forced to fight for his life to save his column.
19 December 1920 -
Glenacurrane - just north of Mitchelstown - near his Anglesboro
Ambush by East Limerick Brigade Column - led by Donncadh O hAnnagain
- with help from Castletownroche Battalion Column (Cork No. 2)
and Mitchelstown Company (Cork No.2 Brigade).
The British patrol was made up of two lorries with 20 members
of the Lincolnshire Regiment. Four of the party were killed and three
wounded. Letters and a medal, awarded to Lieutenant L B Sheppard
Faulkner, for 'gallant conduct in Ireland on 17 September' were
confiscated. The wounded were taken to Athmaslings Cross. The medal is in the national library.
23 December 1920 - skirmish in Cork City with brother Donal and Tans
Near the Union Quay Donnacadh, Donal, Tomas Malone and Volunteer Burke encountered a group of Tans. Theywere on Gratten Bridge at the time. Tomas Malone was captured and executed the next day.
1 January 1921 - Tans attack Tobin's house
On Saturday 1 January 1921 David Tobin and Thomas Murphy were
surprised at Tobin's house. Tobin was shot and died in a field,
where he was found dead surrounded by matches. It appears he was
trying to get the attention of his comrades. In 1997 I filmed John Tobin
of Glenbrohane at the spot where his uncle was killed.
Murphy was arrested. Ned Tobin, Tom Howard and O hAnnagain cycled
to Ballynalacken from Kilclooney and saw the lorry with Tobin's
body on the tray.
3 February 1921 - Dromkeen Ambush
Dromkeen is on the Caherconlish - Pallasgreen road. The RIC
were returning from Caherconlish when the attack began at 2.30
pm in a spot where the road forks to Bruff and Old Pallas. The
first lorry hit a wall leaving some dead. The second lorry
came under fire. All 'succumbed to their wounds' said O hAnnagain
in a document held at the Cathal Brugha Military Barracks. In fact three were executed, all by Maurice Meade.
The 11 policemen killed were Con Samuel Adams (executed), Con George Bell,
Con John Bourke, Con Michael Doyle, Con Patrick Foody 9executed), Con William
Hayton, Con William Kingston, Con Sidney Millin, Con Bernard Mollaghan,
Con Arthur Pearce and Con Henry Smith. Two escaped. The book - Who's Who in the IrishWar of Independence - lists Pallasgreen as the site of deaths.
The ambush was a joint operation of the flying Columns of the
East and Mid Limerick Brigades IRA (some forty riflemen) under
the command of Donnacha O hAnnagain O/C of East Limerick Brigade
Dick O'Connell, O/C of the Mid-Limerick Flying Column and a section leader was also
present. Some time earlier the police had
discovered the arms dump of the Mid-Limerick Brigade. There was
only one IRA man - Liam Hayes - wounded. The I/O of the Mid Limerick
Brigade, John Purcell, had sussed out the travel pattern of the
As a result of this battle 10 houses were burnt. On 6 February
the Tans arrested civilians at Kilteely and took them to the house
of Commandant Hayes and ordered them to pile furniture against
the wall and set fire to the house. Hayes had lost a finger in
the Dromkeen battle.
|Site of an ambush involving Dinny Lacey from the Tipperary
8 February 2001
Aeroplane pilot captured.
30 March 2001
O hAnnagain witnesses the death of Sean Finn at Ballyhahill. In this battle Tom Howard shot dead a Tan who was about to shoot the dying Finn.
I May 1921 - Attack at Shraharla Bridge near Tully
Volunteer Casey from mid Limerick brigade was captured and executed the next day. The Galbally patrol had been harassing civilians. That night the Volunteers marched twelve miles to the Knocklong neighbourhood.
The British emerged here, behind the column and drove the IRA up the hill in the direction of the white buiding in the distance. It was there that the three IRA men were killed and Vol Casey was captured.
Volunteers killed were:
Capt Paddy Stair, James Horan and Tim Hennessy were killed and Vol Casey
2 May 1921 - Lackelly
Mae Maloney - later a prisoner of the Free State - was tricked into leading the British to the East Limerick column.
Around midday O hAnnagain was in a shop in Knocklong and was told
there was firing in Lackelly. Upon being guided across fields
by David Byrne he discovered the Green Howards had set upon
his men. He described the attack as occurring when his men 'had
their backs turned'. This was contary to his policy, which was
always to give the enemy a chance to surrender. The counter attack
lasted for five hours.
Volunteers killed were:
Lieut Jim Frahill, Pat Ryan, William Riordan and Tom Howard. They
were buried at Mohane Cross, in the corner of a field, by Father
McGrath of Herbertstown. They were subsequently buried in Herbertstown