At 7.20am on Tuesday the 25th of April Rebels attacked the police barracks at Clarenbridge about nine and a half miles from Galway. The barracks was attacked, originally by about 100 men but this number increased as the attack went on. The barracks was defended by five policemen and the attack lasted until about 10.30am. The occupants were called on to surrender twice by the Rebels but they refused. The barracks was fired on and all the windows were broken and the Rebels threatened to blow the building up. The Rebels also constructed stone road blocks at each end of the village.
On failing to gain access to the Clarenbridge barracks the Rebels withdrew and joined forces with Rebels attacking Oranmore. The attack on Oranmore began between 12 noon and 1pm. The railway line was cut and a large hole was made in Oranmore Bridge. The police barracks were attacked, shots were fired at the barracks breaking all the windows, the barracks were defended by 4 policemen and held until 7.30pm when they were relieved by a party of police and military from Galway. When police and military reinforcement arrived the Rebels fled in the direction of Athenry.
As news of the Rising in Dublin reached Galway ten leading Sinn Feiners were arrested and handed over to the Naval authorities and were held under what was call protective custody on board a Naval ship. 30 Special Constables were sworn in and three neighbouring police stations closed and the policemen brought to Galway. Galway town was sealed by police and a message sent to Queenstown requesting 200 soldiers.
On Wednesday the 26th of April a reconnaissance party was sent out to ascertain the situation outside the town, this party was attacked by a large group of Rebels numbering between two and three hundred at Carnmore. One policeman was killed and one injured in the exchange of fire. The Rebels scattered but were later reported to have re-grouped and were marching on Galway town. A party of police were sent out to engage them. The Rebels took up position on a hill but with the aid of a Naval Sloop shelling the hill the rebels were dislodged.
On Thursday the 27th a Naval Sloop landed one hundred troops and on Friday the 28th the military sent out a large force to engage the Rebels. The Rebels were reported to have camped in a district known as the East Riding, but having failed to find any Rebels the Military were told the Rebels had been advised to go home by a priest. Rebels at the East Riding told how the priest pleaded with them to go home finishing with the plea ‘will you take my advice or that of Mellows’ the Rebels said they would take the priests advice and dispersed.
There were also reports that the Rebels marched to Ballygarran about two and a half miles from Athenry where they were joined by more Rebels from the East Riding. The Rebels remained at Ballygarran overnight and telegraph lines were cut to prevent their location being reported back to Galway town. It was also reported that the railway line at Ballygarran was broken and locals complained that large quantities of food were commandeered. Estimates of the size of this group varies from 400 to 1000. Next morning the Rebels marched to Moyfore Castle. This is the same group of Rebels that were persuaded to go home by the priest.
After the Rising 270 arrests were made in the Galway area, the majority of these ended up detained in England, twelve were convicted and sentenced by courts martial. Seven rifles, eighty-six shotguns and seven revolvers were seized.
Enniscorthy County Wexford
In Enniscorthy Wexford about 600 Rebels took over the town cutting off communications with the surrounding district. The Rebels established their headquarters in the centre of the town and declared a Republic. Anyone entering or leaving Enniscorthy was required to produce a permit issued by the Rebels, commercial goods and motorcars were also commandeered by the Rebels.
Police held the barracks which was manned by an Inspector and five policemen, the bank was also occupied by a Sergeant and a Constable. During the week shots were fired on the barracks from Vinegar Hill and other vantage points and the occupants asked to surrender, the police refused to surrender and held the barracks until relived by the military on the 1st of May. A an inquiry held after the Rebellion the inspector told how the besieged policemen would have had trouble defending the barracks had they not seized over 1000 rounds of ammunition from Sinn Feiners shortly before the Rising. After the military relived the barracks several people made complaints that they had been terrorised by the Rebels in attempt to get them to join the Rising.
The inspector complained that had he received the same support as the police in Wexford town the Rebels would have been unable to gain the control of Enniscorthy that they did. The inspector stated that the police in Wexford town had received the assistance of over 200 people including National Volunteers, Ancient Order of Hibernians and Unionists and that the clergy, particularly Father Murphy, who made a damming sermon against the rebels from the pulpit. Frothy policemen were on standby to go to Enniscorthy but were held back due to the strong position held by the Rebels. The town was eventually relived by a force of 1,100 including 70 mounted cavalry.
After Enniscorthy was relived 373 people were detained, 319 were sent to Dublin and 52 discharged. 46 rifles, 66 shotguns, revolvers, 20 stone of blasting powder, 667 rounds of ammunition, 38 cartridge cases and a quantity of fuse and gelignite were seized. Documents relating to plans for the Rising were also seized.
The Rebels toured the town of Enniscorthy commandeering food and bedding and also bicycles, motor cycles and any other item they felt would be useful. The occupants of Enniscorthy Castle, Mr Henry Roach, a Justice of the Peace, and his family were evicted from the castle and the Rebels occupied the building. A large group of young men joined the Rebels in the castle that night and they were sworn in as Republican Police.
On the Saturday evening all the Rebels proceeded to the Cathedral and went to confession. On the Sunday after the Rebels had attended Mass a party including R.I.C. District Inspector McGovern and Father Kehoe arrived by motorcar and conveyed the news that the Rebels in Dublin had surrendered.
The formal surrender was made on Monday when a Military force of 2000 headed by Col. French arrived in the town. The first Rebels to surrender were:
- Commandant Brennan employed as a journalist.
- Captain Doyle a Labour Society Clerk.
- Captain Rafter a Vintner.
- Captain King a Clerk.
- Captain De Lacy a Labour Exchange Agent
The above image shows Back Row:
Una Brennan, Michael de Lacey, Eileen Hegarty, Front Row
Seamus Rafter, Robert Brennan, Seamus Doyle, Sean R Etchingham. The image was taken on the 1st of May 1916 just prior to the surrender.
Practically all the Rebels had dispersed on the Sunday following news of the Surrender. Hugh quantities of arms and ammunition were taken by the Military, many of the Rebels were rounded up over the following days and arrests were numerous.
Other Areas in County Dublin
In Swords County Dublin at about 7am on the Wednesday about fifty Rebels assembled near the village, all were fully armed and in military formation. The Rebels surrounded the post office and police barracks, both building were seized at about 8.30am. The police barracks was occupied by Sergeant O’Reilly and two constables. Two Rebel leaders, Dr Hayes and Mr Ashe, a school teacher from Corduff, approached the barracks in a motorcar, they produced a revolver and pointing it at the Sergeant who was standing at the barrack door said “we want no trouble but the arms and ammunition you have in the barracks.” A number of Rebels approached the barracks and being hopelessly outnumbered the police surrendered. The Rebels entered the barracks and removed all the arms and ammunition they could lay their hands on, the Rebels also smashed the metal shutters on the windows in the front of the barracks.
While the police barracks were being seized another group of Rebels charged the post office. Thinking the inside door leading to the post office portion of the building was locked the Rebels rushed it with considerable force, the door only being ajar the Rebels tumbled over each other, the postmaster Mr M Keane stated that it was a miracle none of the loaded rifles went off. The Rebels smashed the telegraph instrument and threw it into the road. No money or other valuables were taken. One Rebel went outside and climbed the telegraph pole with the agility of an experienced telegraph wire operator. Within ten minutes he had succeeded in cutting all the wires, completely cutting off communication with the outside world. While the Rebel operations were in progress a delivery of bread for the local shops arrived in a Kennedy’s van, this was quickly seized and the contents loaded onto a farm cart.
The Rebels then left the village and proceeded in the direction of Donabate bringing with them the bread delivery van and the cart load of bread. As the Rebels travelled towards Donabate their number grew considerably, all the rebels were mounted on bicycles. When the Rebels reached the railway station they blew up the bridge at Rodgerstown damaging the railway line, they also attacked the signal box damaging leavers and instruments. On leaving the railway station the Rebel force divided, the first group marched along the railway line to attack the police barracks from the rear. The other section of Rebels marched along the main road to attack the front of the barracks.
Sergeant Mulligan and two constables waited for the attack. The Rebels advancing along the main road fired on the barracks, the police returned fire. Constable Thorpe was injured by a bullet wound in the hand and was out of action. One on the Rebels rushed the front door hacking it with a pickaxe and then proceeded to lay a charge of gelignite. Seeing how hopeless the situation was the police surrendered and the Rebels seized all arms and ammunition in the barracks. The Rebels then regrouped and the post office was then taken, the telegraph instruments were smashed and the wires cut, it was also reported that a sum of money was taken.
After the Rebels had departed Swords the Sergeant and two constables who were not taken prisoner cycled to Malahide and warned the police of the Rebel activities. The Malahide police, fearing an attack, secured the railway bridge and entrenched themselves nearby and awaited the Rebels to attack. After their victory at Donabate the Rebels marched in the direction of Garristown. The Rebels later joined up with a force of Rebels Ashbourne in County Meath.
By the end of the week a large force of Rebels had encamped between Fieldstown and Kilsallaghan. On the Sunday morning Head constable Hunter and Sergeant O’Reilly of Swords went to the encampment with a copy of the surrender issued by Pearse advising the Rebels to surrender unconditionally. The two policemen were detained by the Rebel guard as they approached the encampment, when the police showed the guard the surrender document they refused to believe it was genuine. After some time the Rebels agreed to send one of their number with the head constable to the military barracks in Dublin where they were told Pearse was being held, Sergeant O’Reilly was held hostage for the safe return of the Rebel. When the Rebels learned the surrender was genuine they agreed to surrender, the only condition being that they would not be marched through Swords where many of them lived.
At about 6pm a large force of Lancers and Hussars arrived from Dublin and took about 100 prisoners from the encampment. They were taken to Dublin by lorry under heavy escort. A large quantity of rifles, 80 or 90 revolvers and 30,000 rounds of ammunition were seized along with a large number of bicycles, bandoliers, haversacks, blankets and field equipment. The next morning a general search was made by the military of all the houses in Swords, a quantity of gelignite was found. Three tailors named Tom Duff, Peter Kelly and Christopher Moran were arrested and taken to Dublin. Over the next few days several Rebels in Santry, Donabate and Swords surrendered to the police.
Fingal Volunteers The Battle of Ashbourne
The following article appeared in An Cosantoir, the Irish Army’s Magazine, during the Emergency Period (1939 – 1946). The article was published to show Volunteers with the Local Defence Forces the type of tactics used by The Volunteers during the 1916 Rising.
This stirring episode of the 1916 Rising may not be as familiar to readers as the fighting in the city, with its more spectacular destruction of buildings. The fight at Ashbourne may also be found useful as illustrating the value in minor operations of such vital factors as morale, discipline, tactical training, leadership, surprise and protection.
THE FINGAL VOLUNTEERS.
It is interesting to remember that the Fingal Volunteers in 1916 were in fact the prototype of the present day cyclist squadrons, and although the significance of their existences as a cavalry unit was not understood or recognised even by themselves, they did in fact, to a great extent, adopt correct cavalry tactics in the series of raids and reconnaissance movements carried out throughout North County Dublin from Easter Monday till the Friday of that week, when the first really serious engagement took place at Ashbourne, County Meath, just over the county border.
Previous to Ashbourne, the Column, about 45 strong, all mounted on bicycles, had been engaged during the week in a series of lighting raids upon Royal Irish Constabulary (R.I.C.) Barracks and communications in the area, with the threefold purpose of collecting arms, hampering enemy movements, and drawing some enemy attention away from the hard pressed Volunteers fighting in the city. Originally we had 20 more men, but this number had, on orders from James Connolly, been sent in to the city from our camp in Finglas. These twenty gave a good account of themselves in the fighting in O’Connell Street, and at the Mendicity Institute, where one of their number was killed.
It may be well, before proceeding to the description of the actual fight, to give some kind of picture of the organisation and equipment of the Volunteer unit, so that the reader may more readily grasp the significance of later details.
The Volunteers of North County Dublin or Fingal, as the territory is know, constituted, up to 1916, the 5th Battalion of the Dublin Brigade, but like most Volunteer units of the time was never near Battalion strength. In fact, if memory serves me right, I think the area at that period was, at best, able to muster a strength of about only one Infantry Company. Due, however, among other causes, to the confusion of the cancelled orders on Easter Sunday, little more than half the number answered the mobilization call.
The following summary of the equipment of the Fingal Volunteers on Easter Monday is taken from some old notes of mine.
AMMUNITION: Total available to all units:
- Modern Service Rifles including long and short Lee-Enfield and 9m/m Mauser – 12 to 15.
- Old type Mauser (Howth Rifle) – 10 to 12.
- Martini Enfield Single Shot Carbine – 12 to 15.
- Single barrel 12 bore Shot-guns – 20 to 30.
- Revolvers and pistols, various types and calibres (.455 .38 .32 .25) – 12 to 14.
- .303 and 9mm – About 100 rounds per weapon.
- Old Mouser about 60 rounds per weapon.
- Shot-gun loaded with buck-shot, about 300 rounds per weapon.
- Pistol ammunition, various – about 30 rounds per weapon.
UNIFORM AND EQUPMENT.
About 15 to 20, including most of the officers had uniforms. The remainder wore their equipment, bandolier, haversack and belt over their civilian clothes.
Most of the men who reported on Easter Monday did so on bicycles.
One horse and a farm draw belonging to my father was the only heavy transport until the commandeering on Wednesday of a Ford motor bread-van. In addition to this there was a Morris Oxford two-seated belonging to Doctor Hayes, and a motor cycle belonging to Thomas Ashe.
On arrival in camp of five or six stragglers from city units and the detachment on Tuesday from our camp at Finglas of 20 men to the city, the urgent need for reorganisation of our forces arose. We had received orders from James Connolly at the G.P.O. that our activities were to take the form of diverting enemy attention and troops, if possible, from the city, and a rapid survey of the situation resulted in throwing overboard the old British Infantry organisation, upon which we had trained, and the adoption of a scheme made to fit the numbers available and the tactical requirements of our mission.
- Sixty pounds gelignite which was used to destroy the G.N.R. (Great Northern Railway) line on Easter Monday. There remained two home-made canister grenades.
The arrangement adopted, which incidentally was quite sound from a cavalry viewpoint, was to divide the entire force into four more or less equal sections of ten to twelve men, each section under the command of an officer, the remaining four senior officers constituting the headquarters and command staff.
The operation procedure adopted was that each day one section was detailed for foraging duty with the job of protecting the camp day and night, and also locating and procuring food supplies for the column. The remaining three sections, proceeding on a daily raid or other mission, moved always with the sections so spaced and detailed that the leading section constituted the advance guard; the rearmost section the rearguard, while the commander with his staff moved normally with the main body, in between. The sections changed over duties daily.
ASHE AND MULCAHY
The commander and staff of the column were largely, if not entirely, responsible for the success of the unit. Thomas Ashe, the commander, was a fine physical specimen of manhood, courageous, and high-principled; something of a poet, painter and dreamer. In military matters he was, perhaps, somewhat unpractical. Early in the week, however, we had been joined by a few stragglers from a city Battalion, amongst whom was Dick Mulcahy. Mulcahy was known already to the other members of the staff, and it was soon apparent that he was the mind necessary to plan and direct operations. Cool, clear-headed and practical, and with a personality and tact that enabled him to take virtual control of the situation, without in any way undermining Ashe’s prestige as commander. My Father, Frank Lawless, was quartermaster, and because of his wide local knowledge of the country and the people was of great help in planning operations and movements as well as in the essential matter of supplies. Dr. Dick Hayes, the other member of the staff, in addition to his medical duties was a valuable voice in the staff councils, and was also available for intelligence duties.
The following is a list of Volunteers who were involved in the fighting as Ashbourne County Meath.
It was alleged that the Rebels had a plan to kidnap Sir Edward Carson from the home of Mr R McNeill at Cushendall County Antrim. The plan could not be put into action as Mr Carson did not visit Mr McNeill for Easter as had been planned because the Easter recess of Parliament was too short.