ORIGINAL. BUREAU OF MILITARY HISTORY 1913-21
“I was born in the parish of Abbeyfeale on the 31st
Previous to the attack on the R.I.C. patrol at
Abbeyfeale, June 5th, 1921, the 2nd Battalion, Cork 1V
Brigade, was in consultation with some members of the
West Limerick Brigade in order to bring off an attack
on the R.I.C. and Tans either at Brosna or Abbeyfeale.
On the 21st May the 2nd Battalion, A.S.U.,
destroyed Guiney's Bridge that was partly demolished
earlier in March, near the Cork-Kerry-Limerick border,
and lay in wait next day for a patrol of R.I.C. and Tans
from Brosna. The patrol failed to turn up and, on the
invitation of the West Limerick Brigade, the 2nd
Battalion, in co-operation with members of West Limerick
Brigade, lay in wait at Abbeyfeale Hill May on 29th. As
there was a heavy downpour all day the patrol failed to
come out. When all the efforts failed it was decided
to attack the patrol in the town of Abbeyfeale.
It was brought about in this way. The 2nd Battalion, Cork 1V Brigade A.S.U., with members of the local A.S.U, West Limerick Brigade,
entered the town from the Newcastlewest side about
midnight. Local scouts were in readiness to take the
barefooted men into the houses where positions were taken up.
The houses occupied were : Egglestons, Hartnetts,
Brownes, O'Connors, Fordes, O'Connells and Leahys.
At 6 a.m. a patrol of twelve came along the street in
extended order. Fire was opened from the houses occupied
by our men. Jolly - a Tan - was killed and some of the
others were wounded. The attack lasted only about fifteen minutes.
The attackers retreated to Mileen by the eastern side of the town. Our line of retreat was covered by local outposts."
Rathina, Newcastlewest. Co. Limerick.
Member of Fianna Eireann, Newcastlewest, 1917 -
Section Leader Irish Volunteers, Galbally, Co. Limerick,
.Subject. West Limerick Irish I Volunteers, 1917-1921
“It was then decided to ambush a military convoy
of four lorries which usually travelled, from Newcastlewest
via Abbeyfeale to Listowel. The position chosen for
the attack was. between Barna and Thmpleglantine, about
six miles from Newcastlewest
We took up positions in extended formation on
one side which was higher than the road, the opposite
being more or less on a level with the road. We were
all armed with rifles, shotguns or revolvers. The
North Cork Column had a machine gun. Brislane was
in charge. Michael Colbert was 2nd in command.
The road had been mined with box mines to which electric
wires attached to detonators were connected. I do
not know who took charge of the battery, but he was a
North Cork man.
We lay in wait for four days. Early one
morning - it was the 10th July, 1921 - the four lorries
passed towards Listowel. We let them go with the
intention of attacking them on their way back that
evening, but they never returned that day.
On the 11th July, 1921, at 12.15 p.m.
as the mines were being removed the convoy arrived and
pulled up. The officer in charge and his men had a
look around. The officer walked over to Brislane,
shook hands and after a word or two drove off again.
I went to a training camp during the Truce
and later joined the National Army for a period of
eighteen months and retired with the rank of
By the end of August 1920 a very large number of
men in the brigade area were on the run when the Brigade
0/C formed an active service unit. In all 15 men were
taken into the unit, which later became known as the
Flying Column. I become one of the column and was
issued with a carbine rifle and. a point 32 automatic.
The rifle was one of a number of rifles captured at
Ballylanders on the 27th April, 1920, by the I.R.A. in
the attack on the R.I.C. barracks there. The Brigade
0/C, Seán Finn, took charge of the column.
One of the first actions of the column after its
formation was an attack on a Tan patrol in Abbeyfeale
on the 18th September, 1920. The patrol usually
numbered ten or twelve men, who left the R.I.C. barracks
at about 8 p.m. each night and patrolled up and down
the Street from the barracks to the Church of Ireland,
about a wile to the south of the town. Our scouts had
informed us of this.
The full column arrived in the town on the night
of the l8th September and took up positions on either
side of the Main St. I was near the church and was armed
with the carbine.
As the patrol were approaching the ambush
position proper a couple of our men located behind a
hedge adjoining one of the houses in the street, made
a noise which attracted the attention of one of the Tans,
who went over to investigate. As he looked across the
hedge he saw the two armed men. Our two men could do
nothing but open fire at once. The Tan fell dead.
The remainder of the Tans opened fire all round, to
which our men in the immediate vicinity replied. The
action had lasted about ten minutes when our men
Signed: (Amos Riedy)
EXTRACT FROM STATEMENT BY COMMANDANT P. O'BRIEN,
LISCARROLL, CO. CORK.
“The Column leader in Newmarket (Michael D. O'Sullivan) and
myself went into the West Limerick area and met some members of
the Abbeyfeale battalion at Tournafulla. They informed us that
there was a convoy of military passing regularly each week
between Newcastlewest and Abbeyfeale. They asked us to inspect
the ground near Templeglantine as it would be about the only
place possible to get a position for an ambush. The convoy
might number anything up to eight lorries, which could include
an armoured car and would not definitely be less than four lorries
We inspected the road and chose a position between Ardagh (Barna?) and
Templeglantine where we could get reasonably good fir positions,
ranging from about thirty to one hundred yards, and slightly
elevated over the road, all at the southern
side. We made arrangements to have the Column ready on July 7th, and West
Limerick were to have their Column mobilised at the same time.
From information available we felt reasonably sure that the
convoy would travel on July 8th and we were to be in position
on that day. On the night of July 7th a Column of eighty men
from North Cork proceeded by Rockchapel to the vicinity of
Tournafulla, where we met the West Limerick Column of about
sixty men. The following morning we had eight mines placed
in the road between Ardagh (Barna?) and Templeglantine, enclosing a
distance of nearly a mile. The Columns were divide into
sections covering each of the eight positions (Mines) and
allowing for protection on the flanks. It was decided that
should the convoy come we would attack them on their return
journey from Abbeyfeale. The sections had to remain concealed.
in the ambush position during the morning as there was no suitable
cover to conceal the full Columns in the vicinity. About 2 p.m.
four lorries were observed coming from the direction of New-castlewest
- they were allowed to pass through to Abbeyfeale,
and whilst our men were all keyed up waiting for the return
journey we viewed them some considerable distance away returning
by another route to Newcastlewest. A situation like this had
never before occurred in the area, and it was afterwards ascertain
ed that the R.I.C. in Abbeyfeale, afraid. to move out on their
own, had sought the protection of the military whilst collecting
dog taxes from the residents in the rural districts. The
Column withdrew after about an hour's waiting and it was decided
to move back to the Tournafulla district and wait until the
following Monday when the convoy would be again likely to pass,
and in the meantime the mines to be left concealed in the road.
Late on Saturday evening, July 9th, a despatch arrived
from Divisional Headquarters summoning myself and the Battalion
Os. C., who were with the Column, to a meeting at Dromahane on
Sunday, July 10th. We started immediately and got as far as
Freemount that night, where we heard the first rumours of a
Truce. On the following day, Sunday, we got to Dromahane and
arrived at the venue of the meeting. The Divisional O.C.
was present and also the Brigade 0.C. (George Power) who had
brought his Battalion Os. C. to the meeting also. It was then
we were definitely informed that there was to be a Truce the
following day at noon.
Some time prior to this the Divisional O.C. had intimated
that the Brigade was too big for one Unit and had decided in
making two Brigades for the area. This arrangement was carried
out at the meeting and the Divisional O.C. appointed the staffs
for both Brigades - Cork No. II and Cork No. IV. George Power
was appointed Cork No. II Brigade and I
Was appointed Cork No. IV Brigade; Ned Murphy of Lombardstown,
Vice O.C., Cork No. IV;
Michael O'Connell, also of Lombardstown, Q.M., Cork IV., and
Eugene McCarthy, Charleville, as Adjutant of the Brigade.
I then asked if it would be permissible for the Column
to carry out an attack on the following morning, and was informed
by the Divisional O.C. that we could please ourselves but that
the Truce should be strictly observed at 12 Noon on Monday.
We returned to Tournafulla that night and held a Conference with
the Section leaders of North Cork and the Officers of the West
Limerick Column. I explained to them about the Truce and
asked for their opinions as to the advisability of seeking an
engagement on the following morning. It was unanimously
decided that we would go back into the positions evacuated on
Friday and remain there until 12 noon.
At 11.45 a.m. on Monday, July 11th, I called the Column
together and explained to them the conditions implied by the
Truce. The Column was dismissed at 12 noon, and at 12.15 p.m.
when the men were actually removing some of the mines from the
road a military party came on the scene from Newcastlewest.
These, seeing our men on the road, first attempted to be
hostile but when asked if they were prepared to observe the Truce they
changed their manner and continued on their way to Abbeyfeale.”
(Signed) P. O'Brien.
Cork 4 Brigade.
the burial of Liam Scully, we got a message from
North Cork - Seán Moylan or Liam Lynch - to go down to
take over General Lucas, who had been captured a short
time previously, and there was great enemy activity
around the North Cork area. We took him over somewhere
around - I think it must have been Newmarket, Co. Cork,
in that direction anyway. I can't remember exactly.
I know that, approaching Abbeyfeale on our way back
with him as a prisoner in the car, we ran out of petrol
and that he had to help us to push the car to the tops
of the hills when we could let it run down. In this
way, we got as far as Abbeyfeale where we got petrol.
We took him to a place outside Abbeyfeale and kept him
there for a night. Subsequently we took him on near
Shanagolden. I am not sure whether/ there was any R.I.C.
garrison in Abbeyfeale at this time, but I think that
probably there was not. We got the petrol in a garage
at the outskirts of the town. We spent a night near
Abbeyfeale, or possibly it may have been only a day, and we
moved on after nightfall. We took him to a place near
Shanagolden. Dore was the name of the man who owned the
house We kept Lucas there for several days, perhaps for
a week. At the time there was a suggestion that the
British might exchange a prisoner for Lucas. Bob Barton
was a prisoner in British hands at the time and it was
hoped he might be exchanged for Lucas, but the latter
scoffed at the notion. He said he was not as valuable
in British eyes as we seemed to think. Lucas was a very
decent man and could even see our point of view. He said
to me once that if he were an Irishman he would be in the
I.R.A. He was a very keen card player, very fond of
bridge, and we, of course, tried to make everything as
pleasant as we could for him. He was a bit of a nuisance
while he was around, our attention being concentrated on looking after him.
could do anything while he was with us. We did, of course,
what North cork did - passed him along to somebody else.
We got in touch with Glare and suggested that it was
getting too dangerous to keep him in East Limerick. There
had been raids here and there. We took him across to
Glare side in a boat and handed him over there to Mick.
Brennan and company. We remained for some time in
dare with Lucas.
I was wounded. in Glare actually that time. I ran
into a military patrol. This was the time that Lucas
was down there, it was after we had handed him over to
Brennan. We were just coming along the road and we saw
this lorry coming. We took to the fields, and a lucky
shot got me in the thigh. It was not very serious.
I was taken into hospital at Limerick afterwards.
Lucas was kept in Clare for a while. Then he was
transferred to mid-Limerick and he escaped from the
mid-Limerick fellows. The Mid-Limerick fellows were
trying to palm him back to us and we did not want to
have him. He escaped from these fellows, that is,
Dick Connell, and the suggestion is anyway that his
escape was connived at by his guards. I would not be
one bit surprised if that was so, because they were all
sick of him. He was a nice fellow and everyone liked
him. We would have been very sorry if he should become
a subject for execution, as a retaliation or anything
like that, while on the other hand keeping him in
custody imposed a burden on whatever unit held him at
Lucas was actually nearly being killed after
escaping. There was an ambush in Oola, or somewhere
down there, on the day he escaped. He got in touch with
some military lorry, halted the military lorry, and the
lorry was later ambushed by Seán Treacy and that crowd,
I think, in Oola, in ignorance of the fact that Lucas
was on the lorry. Lucas and the British party thought
it was wonderful Intelligence organisation on our part
to have discovered his whereabouts so quickly following
Signed Tomas O Maolleoin (Sean Forde)