Further to my ‘Plugging the enemy’ post, I thought this might be of interest. I posted it on MyT in January 2009.
Ireland saw a significant anniversary last week … on 21 January, it was exactly 90 years since the first sitting of Dáil Éireann (the Irish parliament).
73 of the 110 MPs elected for the whole of Ireland in the December 1918 general election, instead of going to Westminster, met in Dublin to declare an independent Irish Republic in defiance of the British administration.
On the same day, the first shots were fired in the ‘War of Independence’ when members of the Irish Volunteers (soon to become known as the Irish Republican Army) killed two armed policemen who were escorting a consignment of gelignite at Soloheadbeg, Co. Tipperary.
This ambush was entirely on the initiative of local militant Republicans and had no authorization … nor was it popular at the time … but it acted as a catalyst, and soon policemen and soldiers were being attacked in Tipperary, Cork, Dublin and elsewhere. The state forces responded in kind, and the ensuing guerrilla war lasted till July 1921, when a truce was declared.
Following negotiations, the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed in December that year; it led to the partition of Ireland and ‘dominion’ status … effectively independence … for the Irish Free State.
There was an interesting article in Monday’s Irish Times by a man named Máirtín Mac Cormaic, whose father was the last surviving member of the ambush party that killed Constables James McDonnell and Patrick O’Connell at Soloheadbeg 90 years ago. The article finishes thus:
It is time we remembered those members of the RIC who were also decent Irishmen but were on the other side.
The memorial at Soloheadbeg bears only the names of the men who carried out the ambush, including that of my father, Paddy McCormack.
I believe it is now time to add the names of James McDonnell and Patrick O’Connell.
It might show that we have grown up at last.