Tag Archives: Emily M. WeddallWar of Idependence

Darrell Figgis’ House is Raided

As the Anglo Irish War raged on and the violence escalated houses of known and suspected Republicans were searched by by the British Military. They literately, knocked on and in some cases knocked down doors hoping to throw a spanner in the Republican works. If nothing if interest was uncovered or any arrests were effected they turned their attentions on ordinary civilians. On the night of February 25th 1921 the military were particularly active in Dublin.

Dublin Evening Telegraph 26 February 1921

There was great military activity in the city last night. About 7 o’clock 4 armored cars passed through Westmoreland Street, flashing searchlights on pedestrians on each side of the roadway. Between 8 and 10 o’clock Crown forces were particulary active in Dawson street. Several houses were visited but as far as it known no arrests were effected. In on house searched near the Stephen’s Green end of the street, some books and papers were thrown from an upper window.

Dublin Evening Telegraph 26 February 1921

Darrell Figgis was not arrested, but his wife Millie, was hauled off to Dublin Castle and interrogated for about an hour. Finding and hearing nothing of interest the RIC released Millie without charge. Darrell Figgis was safe up the Dublin Mountains at the time, staying with their friend Mrs. Fox, as was Commissioner, Kevin R. O’Sheil, who like the Figgis’ was avoiding detection by the Crown Forces. Millie who was less of a suspect made the journey to the city every day to check on their property. Every night she returned with the same story. More leaders home were ransacked, but their remained untouched. Figgis was put out about the fact that his house was ignored when others were targeted. Until one day Millie came back flushed and excited as O’Sheil remembered in his witness statement many years later;

“The week of raids and arrests had nearly elapsed, the flat of Figgis in Kildare Street untouched and unharmed, when Milly arrived one evening, her face glowing with pride and excitement, “Darrell, we’ve been raided! They’ve pulled your books about and made an awful mess. something dreadful.”

BMH.WS1770 Section 5

Millie didn’t make too much of a fuss about her arrest, treating it as a matter of course, just like the raid. She was the latest of Emily’s friends, who found themselves at the mercy of the Crown forces.

Sources

Londonderry Sentinel 26 February 1921

Freeman’s Journal 26 February 1921

Dublin Evening Telegraph 26 February 1921

BMH.WS1770 Section 5

“Achill Lady” in Galway Goal

Anita Serves her Sentence

“So on this 19th day of January 1921 they took us back to Galway Fail which now admitted both of us. In the jail we fund another political prisoner, Miss Anita MacMahon, of a writer and a worker for Land Reform in Achill. She had been there for some time a and showed the signs and strain of imprisonment”. Alice M Cashel, recalled in her witness statement decades later. Anita was more than half way into her six month sentence for possession of seditious documents.

Anita who was used of having more freedom than most in her time must have found incarceration very difficult. Moreover, she had to endure being locked up while her friends were free and able to participate in the war against the British forces. Emily would have visited her if at all possible, although it may have been difficult for her to leave Dublin while she was working as a nurse or traveling when nearly every train was held up due to ambushes, searches and sometimes violent attacks. The latter would have been less of a problem for Emily than missing work.

Sources

WS Ref #: 366 , Witness: Alice M Cashel, Member Cumann na mBan, Galway; Vice-Chairman Galway County Council, 1920-1921

London Daily News 05 March 1921

Sheffield Independent 03 March 1921

War on Achill in 1920

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.

Purteen, Keel where the marines landed in 1920

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.

https://www.theirishstory.com

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.

Irish Independent 30 June 1920

Sources

https://www.theirishstory.com/2012/09/18/the-irish-war-of-independence-a-brief-overview/#.XvpGSfJ7nVo

Irish Independent 30 June 1920

The Sphere 07 July 1951

Holdups on the Achill Railway

Old map of Railway to Achill

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.

Sources

Manchester Evening News 26 June 1920

Irish Independent 30 June 1920

Fishing Gazette 23 September 1899

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