Category Archives: Places

Unleashed, the Black and Tans

In March 1920, a new ‘branch’ of the RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary), were unleashed on the streets of Ireland. They were mostly unemployed soldiers who returned from the battlefields of WWI, provided with casual looking uniforms of dark green tunics, over khaki trousers, a large black belt and RIC cap. Their distinctive attire earned them the name of Black and Tans, their colours not unlike a pack of foxhounds, but that is where the resemblance ended. They were poorly coordinated by the powers that be resulting in brutality above and beyond the call of duty. Below is a report from Tralee, Co. Kerry where the towns people suffered repeated brutality at the hands of the Black and Tans. It was only the tip of the iceberg of what was all too common occurrences during the War of Independence. Emily would herself come face to face with the ruthless pack.

Sources

Below is a picture taken outside a bank in Phibsborough, Dublin of the aftermath of the shooting of a civilian was shot dead and a soldier wounded. It was one of many of such incidences, which went on for over a year.

100 years ago, The Black and Tans deployed Joseph E.A. Connell Jr, History Ireland, Issue 2 (March/April 2020), Volume 28

Weekly Freeman’s Journal 25 September 1920

Weekly Freeman’s Journal 23 October 1920

Curfew Ditty, Ireland 1920

In February 1920, while the War of Independence was ratcheting up the authorities introduced a curfew, to quell the violent tactics of guerilla warfare. Introduced in Dublin first, the law caused all sorts of chaos for ordinary citizens going about their daily business. The Defense of the Realm Regulation clearly stated:

“Every person abroad between the hours mentioned in the foregoing Order when challenged by any policeman, or by any officer, non-commissioned officer or soldier on duty must immediately halt and obey the orders given to him, and if he fails to do so it will be at his own peril.

The above first verse of a “ditty” penned by an anonymous songwriter, tells as much as any newspaper notice or article.

When you come to the start of a Curfew night,

and try to get home by ten –

Altho’ it is only broad day light,

You are dodging the Tans again,

When the lorries dash out on the streets,

The best is to be out of sight,

O, you want to to be smart upon your feet,

At the start of the Curfew night.

The potential barbarities caused by the legislation was nothing in comparison to actual ones, when a month later the Black and Tans were released on the country.

Sources

Weekly Freeman’s Journal 28 February 1920

Martial Law in Dublin

In February 1920 when the War of Independence was but a year old a curfew was enforced on the people of Dublin:

At the time Emily was resident in Ranelagh and employed as a nurse. Fortunately, for Emily, exceptions were considered for Clergymen, doctors and nurses engaged on duty. As might be expected she had to apply in writing to the permit officer at Dublin Castle. She may well have applied, but not necessarily for medical purposes. It was not uncommon for members of Cumann na mBan, like Emily to move about the city delivering secret messages between Irish Republican Army members. Hiding behind her nurse’s uniform, she was almost above suspicion, however she could be challenged by any policeman, non-commissioned officer or an on duty soldier. If she failed to comply with orders in any way it would have been as advised on notices at her own peril. None of the rules would have bothered Emily!

Sources

Weekly Freeman’s Journal 28 February 1920

Anita McMahon makes a case to bring the Achill Railway to Keel

In February 1920 Anita McMahon wrote to three national newspapers making a good case for why the Achill Railway should have been extended as far as Keel. It make a lot of sense at the time, “motor services” were thin on the ground, with few cars and lorries on the road. Goods were transported locally by horse and cart. Times were changing even then.

The fishing industry on Achill could flourish and provide more local employment was not flourishing as it could. The fish caught on the island was going to waste as there was no way to transport it inland while fresh. There were other industries on the island that could benefit from a better goods transport system too.

Anita explained that Achill had a very large population, about 6000 at the time, who were very intelligent and industrious. A extension to the railway at Achill Sound would not be wasted as there would surely be developments in the industries already on Achill, should the extension be built. She also pointed out that “the Congested Districts Board would of course welcome any project to develop the Island.” The reply:

The railway was never extended to Keel. Years later in 1937 the railway closed for good. The reason at the time was that the roads were to be developed and the railway was no longer required.

Sources

Dublin Evening Telegraph 26 February 192026 February 1920

27 February 1920 – Irish Times – Dublin, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

07 July 1951 – The Sphere – London, London, England

Derry Journal 15 September 1909