Tag Archives: Emily M. WeddallWar of Idependence

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