“In the summer of 1920, while the War of Independence was raging, Lady Rachel came once more to Screebe Lodge. She was alone. On the morning of June 26, she went for a swim, and never returned. Her body was later retrieved from the sea.”
On June 26th 1920 after traveling from England to Screebe House, the family’s summer residence in Connemara just the day before, Lady Dudley went for a swim to freshen up. After a long and tiring journey, she decided to take a dip as a way of revivification. She did not return.
Lady Dudley was swimming off the jetty at the back of her residence and had taken a lifebelt with her when she entered the water. On the jetty observing her was her maid, Ms Norman, who remarked that Lady Dudley had swum 30 yards from the jetty and appeared to be enjoying herself when she suddenly got into trouble. She threw her hands in the air and sank below the water’s surface. She disappeared from sight and only her lifebelt came to the surface. Her body was later recovered.
In late June 1920 a section of the Connaught Rangers stationed in Punjab State, Norther India staged a protest. Outraged by the activites of the Crown Forces in Ireland they simply refused to preform their military duties. A few days later their counterparts in Solon joined the demonstration, by flying the Irish tricolour, wearing Sinn Fein and engaging in other acts of disobedience, whilst singing rebel songs.
The protests took a violent turn, when the soldiers armed with whatever weapons they had to hand, tried to take possession of their rifles held in the magazine. The on duty guards opened fire, a shootout ensued resulting in the death of two, putting an end to the mutiny. The protesters at both camps were captured and placed under armed guard. Sinn Fein were blamed for engineering the plot, and sixty one were charged for their part in the mutiny. Fourteen men in total were sentenced to death by firing squad.
In the summer of 1920 there was an escalation of conflict between the Crown forces and the IRA. Ordinary civilians were often targeted as reprisals for
This triggered a grave escalation of the conflict as the new forces carried out reprisals on the civilian population for IRA attacks – in the summer of 1920 burning extensive parts of the towns of Balbriggan and Tuam for example. The IRA in response formed full-time Flying Columns (also called Active Service Units), which in some parts of the country became much more ruthless and efficient at guerrilla warfare.
Alongside the limited armed campaign there was significant passive resistance including hunger strikes by prisoners (many of whom were released in March 1920) and a boycott by railway workers on carrying British troops.
Another way of passive resistance was refusing to provide troops with food and other necessities, as was the case on Achill in summer 1920.
MARINES ON ACHILL
A detachment of 25 marines landed at Purteen Harbour, Keel, Achill, and occupied the local coastguard station. they were refused supplies at the shop of Miss M’Hugh and Lr. Achill Co-op. Society. a man bringing turf to the coastguards was turned back. Posters warning the people against dealings with the marines were torn down by the officer.
As the Anglo Irish war progressed throughout 1920, ambushes became more common, even outside the main urban areas. As a guerilla war which relied on ambushes. These localized attacks on usually on police (RIC) stations, where volunteers from the area stole arms of the law keepers, who were usually set free earlier on in the war but as it progressed they didn’t get off so lightly.
Non-compliance with the authorities was another tactic employed, by civilians. One such incident on the Dublin Achill railway line in June 1920 at Castlebar as described in the article below.
Emily, Anita McMahon, Eva O’Flaherty along with Marguerite Chevasse did all they could to bring industry to Achill so that the locals did not have to migrate during the summer months to earn a living. Many islanders traveled mostly to Scotland to help harvest the potato crop, some went to England to in industry there. In June 1920 400 men from the island found employment on the Birkenhead waterworks outside Liverpool. According to the article below entitled “Army of Giants” described “Achill Islanders as splendid specimens of physical strength“. Their work was valued so much that the company overseeing the construction of the waterworks laid on sporting events for their amusement!
The ladies maintained their campaign to bring employment to Achill, which they did with much success but that was after Ireland won independence a year or so later.