The Founding of the Presentation Brothers’ Schools at Birr in 1877; recollections of 1927 from J. Deering.
[Birr Historical Society meets again on Monday 4 December 2023 after a break of three…
Clara RIC Barracks in 1920 and a hotel in 1960
The first week of June 1920 was a momentous week in Offaly with the major raid on Clara Barracks in the early morning of 2 June with upwards of 200 men. The outcome was a defeat in the short term with four men seriously injured, one of whom died in 1921. In the same week the first county council elections since the changed political landscape after 1916 were held and now with proportional representation. Clara’s Sean Robbins topped the poll. It was a victory and a defeat in the same week. The bomb and the ballot in different times. The Brigade Activity Reports reports, now published online from the Military Archives (forming part of the Military Service, 1916-23 Pensions Collection), provide a useful summary of activities in Offaly in the War of Independence, 1919–21. The reports from Offaly Brigade 1 were submitted by officers, Peadar Bracken of Tullamore and Seán Kelly (Gorteen Coy) of Mucklagh in 1940 to the Military Service Pensions Board. Particulars for the 4th Batt, Offaly No 1 Brigade were submitted by James Earle of J.K.L. St., Edenderry.
Now all of us need to collaborate to compile a listing of all men and women who fought in the War of Independence in Offaly. The listing of the participants in the Clara Barracks raid is a good place to start and a list from the Offaly Brigade 1 report has been made below. If you have details or photographs send a scan from your phone to [email protected]. We will keep these details for research and publication. Relevant original material is already being placed in Offaly Archives. Diaries and letters are regularly uncovered and helping to build a more comprehensive picture. Call or email us if you have documents you want to see noted in the future. We welcome additional information and amendments.
ACTIVITIES IN OFFALY, 1920-1921
Week ending April. 3rd, 1920 – General burning of evacuated barracks and general raids on Income Tax offices.
2nd June, 1920 – Attack on Clara Barracks.
26th June, 1920 – Attack on Borrisokane Bks., Co. Tipperary.
8th July, 1920 – Two soldiers kidnapped at Ballycommon Canal Bridge, near Tullamore. Attempt made to disarm a party of soldiers searching for them.
21st Sept., 1920 – Sergeant Maguire fatally wounded at Ferbane.
22nd Oct., 1920 – Three Lorries of police attacked at Park Wood, Clara. One killed and one wounded.
31st Oct., 1920 – Sergeant Cronin wounded returning to Barracks, at Tullamore. Died subsequently.
8th Nov., 1920 – Military convoy ambushed between Ferbane and Limerick (?). Two wounded.
Jan., 1921 – Ambush at Belmont. Eight rifles and 900-rds. Captured.
22nd Feb., 1921 – Police ambushed near Philipstown; five wounded.
22nd Feb, 1921 – Police lorry ambushed at Mount Lucas, Edenderry.
21st March, 1921 – Police fired on at Portarlington; one wounded.
(6th Period) – Blueball – planned ambush.
1st April, 1921 – Policeman wounded in Tullamore.
18th April, 1921 – Philipstown Barracks attacked; one wounded.
23rd April, 1921 – Edenderry Barracks attacked.
15th May, 1921 – Constable wounded at Edenderry.
17th May, 1921 – Two constables killed and two wounded at Birr.
3rd June, 1921 – Edenderry Barracks attacked.
4th July, 1921 – Crossley tender ambushed at Ballycara
 6th July, 1921 – Military and police ambushed at Raheen, Geashill.
8th July, 1921 – Police ambushed near Ballyduff.
8th July, 1921 – Skirmish in Mitchell’s Lane, Tullamore.
(7th Period) – Banagher – planned attack.
11th July, 1921 – Policeman wounded at Edenderry.
So who was out on 1/2 June 1920
June 1st, 1920, attack on Clara R.I.C. Barracks included the following:-
Daniel Lynam, Clonminch Tullamore
John Duggan, Tullamore
Andrew Gallagher, Tullamore, (deceased)
William Fitzpatrick, Tullamore
John Daly, Tullamore,
John Connor, Tullamore,
Michael Dempsey, Tullamore,
Patrick Finlay, Tullamore (deceased)
Martin Mileady Ballydaly,
Michael Galvin, Tullamore,
John Killeavy, Tullamore,
Michael Hensey, Tullamore
Edward Brennan, Tullamore (now Dublin)
Frank Mooney Tullamore (now U.S.A.)
Michael Dempsey, Convent View, Tullamore,
Edward O’Toole, Tullamore,
John Finlay, Tullamore (deceased)
William Mooney, Tullamore (now U.S.A.)
Harry Feehan, Tullamore (now deceased)
Rail –lifting on G.S. & W. Rly. Line between Clara and Tullamore, same night in conjunction with Barrack attack by: –
Patrick Bracken, Tullamore (in charge)
Clement O’Loony, Tullamore (now Co Clare)
Patrick Ennis, Tullamore,
Patrick Daly, Tullamore, (deceased)
Patrick Lloyd, Tullamore,
Malachy Lynam, Tullamore (now U.S.A.)
William Lucas. Tullamore
Joseph Spollen, Tullamore,
John Hughes, Tullamore
All of the above were armed.
Road- blocking at Ballyduff Hill (between Clara & Tullamore) same night by:-
Sean Talbot, Tullamore,
Seamus Clarke, Tullamore,
Michael Cleary, Tullamore,
Martin Poland, Tullamore,
Patrick O’Toole, Tullamore,
William Johnson, Tullamore (deceased)
William Walshe, Tullamore,
Thomas Duggan, Tullamore,
Michael Vickers, Tullamore,
Thomas McDonald, Tullamore,
Thomas Collins, Tullamore,
Patrick Collins, Tullamore,
Michael Whelan, Tullamore,
John Dunne, Tullamore,
 Planned attack on R.I.C. Ctd.
Matthew Keane, Tullamore (deceased)
Edward O’Toole, do
John Killeavy, do
James Whelan do (now U.S.A.)
Sean Barry do (deceased)
Malachy Lynam do (now U.S.A.)
Thomas Duggan do (deceased)
Michael Garry do
Thomas Kinahan do
Patrick Egan do
Patrick Daly do (deceased)
William Fitzpatrick do
Andrew Gallagher do (deceased)
Offaly No 1 Brigade 1st Batt Tullamore Coy
The mill was to the left and RIC Barracks to the right
[From Kilbeggan Coy:]
June 1st. Clara R.I.C. Barrack attack men actually in Clara from Coy. Included;-
Sean McGuinness, Patrick Heffernan, Chris Bastick, Patrick Guilfoyle, Patrick Bohan, John Farrell Horseleap. William Matthews Raphoe, remainder of the Coy road blocking, majority armed.
 Durrow & Brackiln Coy. I.R.A. 1920
June Men at Clara R.I.C. Barrack attack included;-
Joseph Pidgeon, John Ravenhill, Daniel Ravenhill, from position in mill, remainder of Coy, road blocking and guarding road on that date were;-
John Fox, James Ravenhill, Thomas Finlay, Patrick Ravenhill, Patrick Gorman, Thomas Pidgeon all armed;
Patrick McDermott, Patrick Connor, Lar Connor, Lar Bracken, Wm Shaughnessy, Terence Pidgeon, Charles Pidgeon, William Pidgeon, Patrick Finlay, Joseph Finlay, Denis Finlay, all unarmed
June 1920 Clara R.I.C Barrack attack, Men from 3rd Batt. engaged were: –
Patrick Geraghty (dec’d, Edward Carly, John Keegan, Castlegeoghan, Jas. Daly, Castlegeoghan, Jos. Cowley, Jos, Begley, Miltown, Terry Dune, Violetstown, Patk. Casey, Dalystown, John Corrigon, Rochfordbdge, Patk.Seery (dec’d) Tyrellspass Coy.
Barty Byrne, Cruith, Thos, Biringham, Ballycommon, Jos.Byrne (dec’d) do, Jos. Malone, Daingean, John Dunne, Daingean, Patk.Keating do, William Mann, Ballyshannon, John Todd Kildmurray, Kilconfert Coy.
Patrick Lynch, Croghan, Patk.Egan, Croghan, P.J Carlyle do ,John Rigney do, William Dame do, Patk.Smullen dp (dec’d), Micheal Troy do, John Hannon, Croghan Coy.
1920 Attack on Clara Barracks: [some addresses and battle stations on the night]
John Barry (deceased) [Williams’ Hotel]
William Mooney Hotel
John Killeavy Hotel
Patrick Egan, The Lawn, Tullamore, [Goodbody’s Mill] Andrew Gallagher (deceased) Mill
Frank Mooney Mill
Malachy Lynam Mill
John Doody Mill
James Whelan Mill
Tom McDonald, High St, Tullamore Mill
Edward Toole, Tanyard, Tullamore. Mill
Martin Meleady Sergeants HO & yard
Edward Brennan ““
Michael Galvin, Rosegrove, Tullamore ““
Jos Gallagher, Henry ST, Tullamore ““
Michael Dempsey, Convent View, Tullamore ““
Daniel Lynam, Clonminch, Tullamore ““
Patrick Finlay (deceased) ““
John Finlay (deceased) ““
Harry Feehan (deceased) ““
John Daly, O’Molloy St, Tullamore ““
Michael Hensey ““
[48 contd] John Connor, l Davitt St, Tullamore. “ “
John Duggan Healy St, Tullamore ““
William Fitzpatrick, O’Moore St, Tullamore ““
Patrick Daly (deceased) ““
Thos Duggan (deceased) Outpost Duty
Patrick Toole, Offaly St, Tullamore ““
Michael McDermott, Garryhinch, Portarlingtron ““
Martin Poland, Church St, Tullamore ““
William Johnson (deceased) ““
Sean Talbot, Patrick St, Tullamore. “ “
Patrick Collins, Muinagh, Tullamore ““
Thomas Berry, Tullamore ““
Martin Connell, Dillon St, Tullamore ““
William Walsh, Clonminch, Tullamore ““
Michael Whelan, Patrick St, Tullamore ““
Patrick Lloyd, Cormac St, Tullamore ““
Patrick Bracken ““
James Hogan, Clontarf Rd, Tullamore ““
Patrick Ennis ““
Joseph Spollen ““
Nicholas Walsh ““
John Dunne, Tullamore ““
John Hughes William St, Tullamore ““
Michael Cleary, Henry ST, Tullamore ““
James Clarke, Convent View, Tullamore ““
James Egan, Henry St, Tullamore ““
James O Neill ““
Thomas Gaffney ““
Arms etc. removed by Patrick O’Toole and Edward O’Toole.
I, William Dowling, was an active member of above company from 1918 to 1923. I held the rank of company quarter-master and took part in the following operations:
1919-1920-Raiding for, seizure, collecting, transferring, securing and safe custody of arms and ammunition from the houses of the following: James Clavin, Lynally, Edward Kelly, Lynally, Patrick Walsh, Kilbride, John Handy, Cartron West, Joseph Grogan, Brocca, James Hanlon, Ballydrohid, Loughlin Smollin, Aharney, Peter Gonoude, Mucklagh.
1920- Was associated in attack on Clara R.I.C Barracks on armed outpost duty, blocking and isolating area. With me were: Daniel O’Brien, Ballinamere, Joseph Cummins, Ballycowan, Daniel Keyes, Ballard, Joseph Neville, Lynally, Jer Neville, U.S.A, Frank Horan U.S.A, Anthony Grennan, U.S.A, Patrick McDonald U.S.A, Thomas Mooney, Church St Tullamore.
Attack on Geashill R.I.C. Barracks 1st. June 1920, a diversionary tactic
The Barrack in Geashill was to be attacked 1st June 1920 at the same hour as the Clara Barrack, but in Geashill it was only to be a covering for the Clara attack, further there was to be no attempt to take the place. Patrick Quinn was in charge. Arrangements proceeded and at about 11.45 p.m. the men having moved to the positions as indicated, opened and kept up fire on building for about two hours which was returned by Barrack occupants. Men name as under scattered around the different positions as indicated:
A. Coy , Daingean- Denis Finlay, Jas O’Brien, Jas Dunne, John Shaughnessy, John Lynch, John Whyte, Patrick Cuskelly, John Brien, John Grace.
B. Coy, Walsh-Island – Patrick Quinn, Chas Kelly, Chas Mallon, Chas Dunne, Michael Quinn, Michael Fennelly, Edward Quinn, John Hickey.
C. Coy, Ballinagar—Chas Kelly, Patrick Mc Elduff, Jas Scully, Thomas Hackett, Patrick McGovern, Daniel Dunne, John Treacy, Jas Kelly, Denis Kelly, Murt Kelly, John Aspell, Patrick Whelehan, Jas O’Brien, Patrick O’Brien, Thomas Treacy, Thomas Cronly.
D. Coy, Cloneygowan- John McEvoy, Christy McEvoy, Daniel Finlay, Lar Aspell, Joe Guinan, Michael Feeney, John Dunne, Wm Dunne, Peter Dunne.
E. Coy, Ballycommon- James Mahon
The three men who were at positions marked (d) on Sketch were the nearest to the barrack and were armed with revolvers and carried one bomb each which they threw into building which although part of barrack building was not directly connected, the petrol was also thrown but no damage resulted. Men were: – Chas Mallon armed revolver and bomb. Charles Kelly armed with revolver and bomb, Patrick Mc Elduff, armed with revolver and petrol also. All the rest of the men concerned carried shotguns, some also had revolvers. All roads leading towards Geashill were blocked on the occasion.