The Irish are synonymous with the consumption of alcohol and having a good time in our pubs and bars but have you ever wondered about the connection between beer and spirits and the foundation of the State. Alcohol, the production, the service or the consumption of alcohol has played a key role in Irish affairs since the iconic and momentous events of The Easter Rising in 1916 to the end of the War of Independence and the creation of the Irish Free State.
Beer and spirits was at the heart of events in 1916. Proclamation signatory Sean McDermott once worked as a barman in Belfast before turning his attention to more pressing matters. The rebels managed not to seize British Army barracks around the city or even the seat of The British Government in Ireland, Dublin Castle but did seize The Watkins Brewery on Ardee Street, The Jameson Distillery, Roe’s Distillery, Dublin City Distillery, and the Barmack Brewery.
The Watkins Brewery raiding party were led by the teetotaller Con Colbert who was subsequently executed. The brewery, which was not protected except by a yard manager was captured by 20 men and the only attack they suffered from Monday to Wednesday was a large group of angry women, the wives and families of Irishmen serving in the British army, who demanded that the rebels go home to their mammy’s and daddy’s.
The Marrowbone Lane Distillery where Jameson whiskey was produced in great quantity, long before the discovery of the Japanese market, was captured by Captain Seamus Murphy and his men. The military advantage of the distillery was the height of the chimneys and warehouses.
A section from Eamonn Ceannt’s 4th Battalion seized Roe’s Distillery located at Mount Brown on James’s Street. Barmack’s Distillery on Fumbally Lane off Clanbrassil Street was seized by Captain Henderson. Despite the seizure of all these distilleries there was very little drunkenness from the rebels but much of the stock was looted by the poor of the city.
William Daly reported in his Witness Statement, “In passing, I wish to record with pride that a few of the men I was In company with, although hardened drinkers, were stationed in the Ship Tavern, and had the taking of anything that was there, not touch anything and refused the offerings of the barmen”
The Dublin City Distillery on Pearse Street was seized by Captain Cullen as part of Eamonn DeValera’s battalion who captured Boland’s Mill. DeValera hoisted the Irish flag, then a green flag with a gold Brian Boru harp at its centre on top of the Distillery. The British artillery and gunboat Helga shelled the distillery believing that this was the rebels location but DeValera was located in the bakery watching the British destroy the wrong target.
The Guinness brewery was not exempt from the action. It was the scene of a war crime in terms that The Hague would understand today.
A General Court-martial assembled on Monday, 12th June, at Richmond Barracks for the purpose of trying Company Quartermaster Sergeant Robert Flood, of the 5th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Sergeant Robert Flood (6588) born in London in 1884 he had joined RDF in 1899 and served in the 5th Battalion during the Easter Rising.
He was charged that on April 28th, at Dublin he murdered Lieutenant Algenon Lucas, of the 2nd King Edward's Horse. He was also charged with having murdered William John Rice, an employee of Guinness's Brewery, on the same date. The accused pleaded not guilty, and was defended by Mr. Henry Hanna, K.C. (instructed by Mr. Joseph Gleason). The party of Royal Dublin Fusiliers became convinced that Lucas and Rice were Sinn Feiners because Lucas as one witness put it ‘turned all the orders on their head’.
PROSECUTOR'S STATEMENT. “Major Kimber stated the facts of the case for the prosecution. On the evening of April 28th, Colonel Williams, who was in charge of the military in the area in which Guinness's Brewery is situated, ordered Captain McNamara, of the Dublin Fusiliers, to place a guard in the malt house, which is at the south western corner of the premises. Captain McNamara vent there with Quartermaster- Sergeant Flood (the accused and nine men. It was a pitch dark night. The orders which Colonel Williams gave to Captain McNamara were that he was not to return the snipers' shot, and not to fire at all unless there were attempts made to enter the brewery. At 11 o'clock that night Captain Rotheram was ordered by Colonel Williams to take down Second Lieutenant Lucas (who was subsequently killed) to the brewery, in order to relieve Captain McNamara. Mr. Lucas belonged to King Edward's Horse, and at that time officers had been reporting all over Dublin, and had been sent to different jobs. The guard in the malt house belonged to the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, and, of course, Mr. Lucas was unknown to the company quartermaster sergeant or any of the guard. Captain Robertson took with him extra men, and when he left Mr. Lucas the guard numbered fifteen men. They were put out at different sentry posts in the building, and the orders which colonel Williams had given to Captain McNamara were repeated to Mr. Lucas in the presence of the accused, and, in addition to that, Captain McNamara said it was inadvisable to open any of the windows, but if it was necessary to fire it would he better to fire through the windows rather than open them and attract the attention of the rebels”
Several attempts were made to send messages to Dublin Castle of the situation but no one was able to leave the brewery due to all the gates being locked. The guard grew suspicious of Second Lieutenant Lucas and when he opened a window although Captain McNamara had said this was inadvisable, Quartermaster- Sergeant Flood arrested both Second Lieutenant Lucas and Mr Rice. Several lights were seen in the vicinity of the brewery and believing an attack was imminent Quartermaster Sergeant Flood informed both Lucas and Rice that they would be shot, Lucas first and then Rice were shot. The second shooting occurred about twenty minutes later when the Guard party had gone to the floor below. Footsteps were heard on the stairs and a challenge was issued twice but with no reply. Quartermaster Sergeant Flood switched on his torch and found two men, an officer and civilian standing in the room. The transcript of the proceedings records the evidence given by Flood.
The two men shot in this incident were Mr. Dockeray an employee of the Guinness Brewery and Lieutenant B Worswick “Did the officer submit to being searched? I remember he handed his property over himself. He had six Treasury notes and some silver. He had no arms, and he had not even an officer's belt on. The civilian had keys on him. The only remark I heard from them was "Sinn Fein era," and I got a staggering blow, and was felled to the ground. What happened then? The men fired. You had given no order to fire on this occasion? None whatever. When you got up you had an opportunity of seeing what had happened, and you found that the officer and the civilian had been shot? I did.” Quartermaster Sergeant Flood was found not guilty and the Court made special mention of the belief that neither Mr. Rice nor Mr Dockery were members of Sinn Fein and had no connection with the rebels. The representative of the Guinness Brewery at the trial made the following statement to the Court: “Mr. Alan McMullen, from the brewery, said that Mr. Dockeray had been twenty-four years, and Mr. Rice sixteen years, in the service of Messrs. Guinness They were both night clerks, and the management had the highest opinion of them. They had' been specially selected for duty in the brewery during the rebellion having been most trustworthy in every way.”
Second Lieutenant B Worsley-Worswick, King Edwards Horse, was shot by the military in Guinness’s Brewery on Friday, 28th April. Lieut. Worsley-Worswick joined the 2nd King Edward's Horse in August, 1914. when it was first formed, and served with it continuously until the day of his death. He left with the regiment for France on May 4th, and served in the trenches till be was offered his commission by the Colonel while he was still in the trenches serving as a trooper. He returned to England to take up his commission at the end of September, 1915, and was gazetted on October 2nd. 1915. When the rebellion broke out he was stationed with the 2nd King Edward's Horse at the Curragh, and the unanimous testimony of his brother officers and friends is that he had no sympathy or association of any kind with’ The Sinn Feiners there was no public investigation into the circumstance attending the death of Lieut. Worsley-Worswick, his case being governed by the finding in that of Lieut. Lucas.
Flood was later killed 9th May 1917 as CSM. R. Flood. Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. Husband of Frances Daisy Flood, of "Newville," Barham, Canterbury, Kent. It seems that after he was acquitted in 1916 he was moved from the RDF to the Royal Berkshire Regiment
British Military Records Lucas, Algernon 2nd Lieutenant 2nd King Edwards Horse Aged 37 Died Guinness Brewery 29/04/1916
Worsley-Worswick, Basil 2nd Lieutenant 2nd King Edward Horse Aged 35 Died Guinness Brewery 29/04/1916
In 1908, Algernon Lucas, a graduate of Selwyn College, Cambridge University, arrived in Montreal from England in pursuit of a teaching career. In response to the need of Montreal’s English community for a suitable preparatory school, he was entrusted with the early education of seven young boys. The venture grew rapidly, and within two years, Lucas School had to move to a larger private house on Mackay Street. In 1912, Mr. Lucas turned to the business world and transferred the School to Mr. Colin Macaulay, a fellow graduate of Selwyn College, who re-named it Selwyn House, in honour of their alma mater.
The British army were not all that innocent in the use of brewery equipment. The seized some of the large metal vats, cut some port holes in them, attached them onto the back of their army trucks and created improvised armoured cars.
Not content with seizing breweries and distilleries the rebels and their enemy seized a number of major pubs across the city. A party of men under Sergeant Joe Doyle seized J.T. Davy’s pub at Portobello Bridge. Their mission was to delay reinforcements from the Rathmines Barracks.
One of Davy’s barmen was James Joyce of Grove Road. Joyce joined the James Connolly led Irish Citizen’s Army but because training manoeuvres took place on Sunday’s, Davy refused to give the thirty five year old barman who worked twelve hours a day seven days a week time off to go training. Often Joyce would pretend to be ill or simply fail to turn up for work.
At noon on bank holiday Easter Monday, Joyce joined the rest of the rebels at Liberty Hall and set off with his battalion through the deserted city. Led by Sergeant John Doyle, Joyce was joined by fourteen other rebels as they marched up Grafton Street and onto St. Stephen’s Green. It was here that another detachment under Countess Markiewicz had seized the Royal College of Surgeons and began to dig trenches in the Green itself. Yet another detachment under Richard McCormack secured Harcourt Street Railway station terminus. This group were to provide an escape route for the men at Davy’s should the position be overrun. Sergeant Doyle, Joyce and seven other rebels continued up Harcourt Street and narrowly avoiding capture at the junction of Adelaide Road when they met a group of mounted soldiers who despite eying them suspiciously continued on their journey. As soon as the mounted patrol had turned a corner the Sergeant gave the order ‘At the double men’ and his charges quickly ran through a short cut and attempted to intercept the patrol but the soldiers quickly turned on their mounts and galloped off towards The Richmond Barracks where Doyle was aware they would surely raise the alarm and send reinforcements.
It was because of his knowledge of the area and Davy’s Pub that Joyce was chosen by James Connolly to be part of this mission. The public house was to be seized because of its vantage point to pin down British troops leaving the Rathmines Barracks or troops using the Canal because other avenues into the city were sealed off by rebel forces. The forty acre Rathmines Barracks housed the two thousand men 3rd Royal Irish Rifles under the command of Lieutenant Colonel McCammoll but when the rising broke out he was on sick leave leaving Major James Rosborough in command. The rebels steadied themselves as the passed Richmond Lane, passed the doorway of John Clarke’s shop, the doors of William Condon’s pub, the small Portobello Café that was closed on the Bank Holiday and finally the butcher’s shop of Tommy O’Gorman finally arriving at the door of Davy’s. The pub would be quiet at this hour with just a few hardly souls spending their sixpences for a pint of porter and discussing who would win the match between Standville and Shamrock Rovers later that day.
The rebels hugged the wall ducking under the large front windows to avoid early detection afraid that they may give away their intentions alerting Thomas Davy who was a Justice of the Peace and possibly an armed Justice of the Peace. Joyce entered the premises first, his hands shaking, the handle of his gun slippery in his hand with the sweat of excitement. He made his way to the dark wooden counter and confronted Davy. Davy is reported to have said ‘You have missed one too many Sunday’s. You can take it that you are on a weeks notice.’ To which Joyce replied ‘You can take it from me that you have one minute to get out. This premises is being seized in the name of the Irish Republic.’
Davy stood behind the counter in shock but when Joyce levelled his Mauser rifle and fired a shot at the mirrors behind the counter both Davy and the customers fled the bar. With the customers fleeing the rest of the rest except two placed on sentry duty at the door by Sergeant Doyle entered the bar. Davy an appointed Justice of the Peace immediately headed to the barracks to raise the alarm. The next couple of hours were taken up with securing the premises and setting up sniping positions in the windows on the second and third floors facing down Rathmines Road. They used whatever they could to cover the windows including most of Davy’s family furniture.
The command in the barracks sent some soldiers in the direction of the La Touche Bridge (Portobello Bridge) three hundred yards from the gates of the barracks but as soon as they got close the rebels opened fire pinning them down in the gardens and the doorway of the newly opened YMCA building along Rathmines Road. The soldiers eventually made their way to the small wall on the opposite side of the Grand Canal. The police arrived and attempted to keep curious onlookers out of harms way and the firing continued intermittently causing even lock keeper Joseph Parsons to peer out his window and watch the commotion. Against the odds Superintendant Kiernan and Station Sergeant Crosbie of the Dublin Metropolitan Police attempted to keep the ever increasing crowd back from the frontline action. One of the first casualties of the rebels in Davy’s was Constable Myles (99E) who tackled the rebels as they were cutting the tram lines that traversed the bridge. He was shot and wounded in the wrist and moved under covering fire to the local surgery of Doctor Joyce (no relation) and then transported to the City of Dublin Hospital and as a result the thirty five year old constable with twelve years experience was kept in hospital until May 31st and returned to duty the following September.
Most of the rebels were based on the second floor as the third floor view was obstructed by advertising hoarding along the canal. The sound of gunfire and shattering glass echoed throughout the building. The fire was indiscriminate with the gas lamps on the bridge taking a number of direct hits. Late on Monday evening The British Army were seen to be crouched down in strict military fashion behind the canal walls on the southern side, the first line lying on their stomachs, the second kneeling behind with their commander standing tall and proud as a British officer behind them directing their fire. A machine gun was wheeled up from the barracks and positioned on the bridge and began almost immediately to pepper the building that continued for nearly two hours. Hundreds of rounds of ammunition were fired at the pub and the ceasefire order was given as soon as the British realised that there was no returning fire coming from the pub. Perhaps they were all wounded or dead. The order was given to enter the building and the soldiers broke through the glass plate windows on the ground floor. When they entered neither rebel nor corpse was found. With his intimate knowledge of the pub, Joyce and the rebels had broken through the cellar walls into the adjoining buildings and eventually into a nearby lane and had made good their escape long before the British had opened fire on the building. Their mission had been a success as they held up the British troops long enough for the rebels in the centre city to reinforce their defences and barricades.
Once the rebel garrison had secured their headquarters at the GPO on O’Connell Street, the poor of the city slums on the Northside of the city began to riot and loot. Padraig Pearse attempted to stop this and sent out a patrol to expel the looters. Two men crossed onto North Earl Street and ‘banished’ a number of troublemakers but as they made their way back towards their HQ they heard noises from inside Meaghers pub. They looked in but initially saw the premises as deserted. As they were walking out they could hear roaring and shouting coming from the direction of the cellar. The went behind the counter and noticed the trap door to the cellar open and candle light coming from the cellar. Jimmy Doyle took the first steps down into the cellar and saw three women known as ‘shawlies’ sitting in ‘a foot of wine’ drunk out of their heads. They were drinking the wine from saucers. Jimmy roared at them ‘in the name of the Irish Republic you need to leave this pub and go home to your families’. There was a moment of silence followed by a barrage of verbal abuse and a shower of bottles. Jimmy scarpered back up the steps and he and his colleague returned to the safety of the GPO. They reported the events to Pearse who asked them why they had not followed orders and ejected the women, ‘We would rather fight the might of the British guns than tackle those three mad ones’.
On Monday night rebels also seized Delahunt’s Pub at 42 Camden Street, now known as Cassidy’s and a haunt of former US President Bill Clinton whose ancestors are Cassidy’s. The raiding party was led by Volunteer Lieutenant Shiels. When the British troops at the position Richard O’Carroll was fatally wounded on the 26th of April 1916. He was travelling along Camden Street when he was pulled from his motor cycle combination by a British officer Captain Bowen-Colthurst and shot, he died nine days later in Portobello Hospital. He was a member of Dublin Corporation where he represented the Labour Party for several years. He was an active official of the Incorporated Brick and Stone layer’s Union. He left a widow and seven children whose ages ranged from thirteen years to a few weeks.
Further down the street and closer to the Jacob’s Bakery HQ, rebels under Sergeant James Kelly seized Little’s public house at the intersection of Cuffe Street and Harcourt Street but the rebels were not the only seizing pubs.
The British Army seized Egan’s public house in Smithfield which they used as a firing position in the attack on Church Street and during the events of the North King Street massacre. The soldiers of the South Staffs spent considerable time breaking through the wall of the houses and by the time they reached the Rebel’s position the Rebels had gone. In their frustration at not catching the Rebels the soldiers of the South Staffs turned their anger on the residents of North King Street. 15 men and boys were rounded up and either shot or bayoneted to death. Included amongst the fatalities were Patrick Bealen, aged 30, who had been employed as foreman at Mrs. Mary O'Rourke's licensed house, 177 North King street, Dublin, and James Healy, aged 44, employed as a labourer at Messrs. Jameson's Distillery, Bow street, and residing at Little Green street. The bodies, which bore marks of bullet wounds, had both been disinterred on 10th May in the cellar of O’Rourke’s pub at 177 North King Street by the sanitary authorities.
In preparation for the Rising the Irish Volunteers were formed and they had a company especially for bartenders. Michael O’Dea from Tulla in County Clare takes up the story,
“In Dublin, where I arrived in 1912, my employer was Con McCormack who owned a public house at 26, Moore St. He ran in conjunction with this a bookmaker's business, most of the transactions in connection with which were illegal. The employees assisted in both branches of the business and because I had shown a flair for the bookmaking I was not long in the city when the boss allocated to me an area to work and develop. This area extended from Clonliffe Road to Howth. I joined the Irish Volunteers in Dublin on their formation towards the end of 1913 and in the spring of the following year I linked up with the "Grocers" Company which had been specially formed to suit the barmen in the city. This company drilled every Sunday morning at Fairview under Captain Robert Monteith, afterwards associated: with Sir Roger Casement in the attempted landing of arms off the Kerry coast. I remained a member of the "Grocers" Company until the Redmondite split in the autumn of l9l4 when the vast majority of that unit went over to the National Volunteers. I remained with the Irish Volunteers and after the split became a member of "F" Company, 5th Battalion, under Piaras Beasley and subsequently Fionán Lynch.”
One of the unforeseen consequences of the Easter Rising was the sudden lack of bar staff. There was a shortage of bar staff to help run Dublin's pubs. Over 150 barmen, known then as wine porters and grocers assistants were arrested and deported by the British to camps in England and Wales. When they were released in mid and late 1917 there was anger and ill tempered feelings as the publicans had replaced their errant staff. There was a mini riot in Dorset Street on Christmas Eve 1917 when a group of out of work barman attacked a number of pubs and their customers in that area.
To reinforce the notion that alcohol played a major part in one way or another in the Easter Rising, when the rebel prisoners were transfered to the Frongoch Internment camp in Wales they quickly realised that the camp was a former distillery now being used as a prisoner of war camp.
The pub and their staff were to play a more crucial role during the War of Independence. These roles can be broken down in a number of categories,
1. The Pub as a location for murder and assassination 2. The pub as a location for an ambush 3. The barman who reports to the IRA about the movements of British Army, Black and Tan and RIC personnel 4. The barman who reports to the authorities about the movements of local IRA men. 5. The publican who uses his premises to harbour on the run fighters in his cellar. 6. The publican who stores weapons and munitions in his beer barrels.1.
Extracted from the Witness Statement of John Ryan, Dundrum Co Tipperary. January 1921 “The only other incident which I can recall and which might be worthy of recording, relates to the execution of an ex-British soldier named Kirby. Kirby worked with farmers in the Annacarty district, He got very pally with the B1acksnd Tans and spent much of his time drinking in their company. He knew all the local Volunteers and could, if he so desired, be of valuable assistance to the enemy. He was warned by Jim Quinlan, the local Company Captain, about associating with the Black and Tans. He, Kirby, then went to Tipperary town and re-enlisted in the British Army. A week later he was posted to the military barracks in Dundrum. One night in January of 1921, he visited a public house at Ballybrack about two miles from Dundrum. A hint was given to some of the local Volunteers who arrested him in the public house and took him to a cottage in the mountains. They then acquainted the Battalion Commandant who reported the case to Seamus Robinson who in turn reported it to G.H.Q. Orders came back that Kirby was to be executed. Meanwhile the British Forces were searching high and low for him. After receiving spiritual aid from a priest who annointed him, Kirby was executed by a firing party at Ring Hill. He was buried there and, as far as I am aware, his body was never found.
On July 17th 1920, Royal Irish Constabulary Divisional Commander for Munster Colonel Gerard Fergusson Smyth and his colleague Inspector Gray were enjoying a drink in the bar of the County Club in Cork City. Believing that they were safe in this establishment unlike many others in the city, the men were unaware that the IRA had a mole within the club and the waiter wasted no time in getting word to the IRA that there was a prize target on the premises. Six armed men headed to the club and just after 10p.m. as some of them stood guard at the front steps to protect their escape route, one gunman approached the Commander who had only been appointed to his position in June was shot five times at close range. He was struck with two bullets to the head, one to the heart and two more in the chest. Even with these wounds Smyth managed to get to his feet and draw his weapon but as the life ebbed from his body the gun dropped to the floor quickly by the lifeless body of the RIC Commander. Inspector Gray was wounded in the leg by another shot and the gunman quickly made his escape into the night mingling with a crowd of people leaving the nearby cinema. In direct retaliation on July 19th, the dreaded Black and Tans raided and looted all of the pubs in Tuam County Mayo.
On February 21st 1921 at Hynes Bar, 19 Lower Glouster Street, Dublin, John Ryan a uniformed military policeman was executed on the direct orders of Michael Collins as the War of Independence was coming to an end. Just after ten a.m. in the morning Ryan knowing that the pub was frequented by men like Michael Collins went there early to put a stop to Collins reign of terror as he and the British saw it. But even with his gun at his side he did not spot the three gunmen as they entered the bar, singled out Ryan and shot him dead as he sat on a barstool at the counter. Ryan was the brother of one of Dublin’s most famous madams of the day Becky Cooper.
The recorded deaths during the War of Independence and Civil War
The Witness Statement of Seamus McKennaJune 12th 1920 Railway Hotel Bar, Limerick City RIC Constable John Carroll and his colleague Constable Cruise were drinking in the bar when they were shot by a lone IRA gunman. Constable Carroll a native of Mayo died at the scene. Limerick Volunteer Paddy Naughton goes on the run after being suspected of the killing.July 17th 1920 County Club, Cork City The RIC Divisional Commander Colonel Gerard Bryce Smyth and his colleague Inspector Gray were enjoying a drink when an IRA mole in the club tipped off his superiors. Six armed men arrived at the club and while some guarded the front door and escape route others approached the two men. Smyth was shot five times, two bullets to the head, one to the heart and two to the chest. Smyth tried to return fire but his wounds were too severe. Gray was wounded in the leg. In retaliation on July 19th, the Black and Tans raided and looted all the pubs in Tuam County Galway.March 1920 Egan’s, Cashla, County Galway The owner of the pub Thomas Egan was shot dead having been accused by the Tans of withholding information. To add insult to injury, the Tans then limited the numbers attending his funeral to the extent where even his closest relatives were afraid to attend.His murder was in retaliation for an IRA ambush outside his bar on March 3rd 1920 when local landlord Francis Shawe-Taylor and his driver were fired on as they travelled passed Egan’s Bar. A donkey and cart had been placed in the middle of the road and when the car stopped gunmen behind the wall of Egan’s opened fire killing Shawe-Taylor. The killing increased the military presence in the area and heralded the arrival of the Black and Tans who believed Egan knew the identity of the killers.September 20th 1920 Smith’s Public House, the Square, Balbriggan Royal Irish Constabulary Head Constable Peter Burke and his brother Sergeant Michael Burke were attacked in the bar. In retaliation the British Auxiliaries who were based in nearby Gormanstown ransacked the town looting and burning fifty four business including four pubs and killing two suspected IRA men.September 21st 1920 Flanagan’s Bar, Lahinch, County Clare Sir Winston Churchill described it as ‘never so many atrocities perpetrated on so many for the actions of so few.’ He was describing the Black and Tan reprisals on the towns of Lahinch and Ennistymon for an IRA ambush in Rineen that killed six policemen. At 2a.m. the Black and Tans arrived in Lahinch and immediately began to burn the business along the main street. Included in the wanton destruction was Halpin’s Bar, Reynold’s Bar and Flanagan’s Bar where Pake Lehane was hiding. He perished in the blaze knowing that he would have more than likely been cut down by machine gun fire for his role in the ambush earlier that day.September 29th 1920 Ryans, O’Brien’s Bridge, County Clare Constables John Downey and John O’Keefe were shot dead in John Ryan’s pub by Michael Brenan who was himself was wounded by return fire.October 31st 1920 The Greville Arms, Granard, County Longford RIC Detective Kelleher was shot dead by IRA volunteers in the pub as he socialized on Halloween night.November 3rd 1920 Cloughjordan County Tipperary RIC twenty four year old Constable William Maxwell is shot dead.December 22nd 1920 Kelly’s Newtownbarry, County Wexford RIC Constable William Jones is shot dead as he entered the bar to question suspected rebels.January 17th 1921 Moran’s Cappawhite, County Tipperary RIC Constable Robert Boyd is shot dead.February 2nd 1921 Balbriggan, County Dublin RIC Constable Samuel Green is shot and died the following day in hospital of his wounds.February 12th 1921 Main Street, Charleville, County Cork Galway born RIC Constable Patrick Walsh was shot dead as he left a bar on the main street of the town by members of the Second Cork Brigade. He was twenty three years old.February 21st 1921 Hynes Bar, 19 Lower Glouster Place, Dublin An identified British Intelligence officer Lance Corporal John Ryan was assassinated by three IRA volunteers at ten a.m. in the morning on the orders of Michael Collins.February 12th 1921 Charleville, County Cork RIC Constable Patrick Walsh shot and killed.March 4th 1921 Cashel, County Tipperary RIC Constable James Beasant is shot dead by two gunmen who also injured a girl on the premises.April 10th 1920 Creggan, County Armagh RIC constable John Fluke is killed after a five man RIC team was investigating activities in the bar was attacked by over a dozen IRA men.April 21st 1921 Knightly’s Castle Street, Tralee County Kerry RIC Constable Denis O’Loughlin is shot dead. Republican Dan Keating is suspected of the crime and goes on the run. He would outlive many of his comrades passing away at the age of 104.May 14th 1921 Middleton County Cork Three RIC men are killed. One man RIC Sergeant Joe Coleman is killed in an initial attack in the pub and when two more constables arrived Thomas Comyn and Harold Thompson but they too are murdered.April 16th 1921 O’Shaughnessey’s, Market Street, Ennis, County Clare Despite being warned by the IRA not to serve off duty members of the Black and Tans, the Catholic publicans continued to serve the quasi military force. An IRA unit under Paddy McMahon arrived at the pub on the night of the sixteenth and after gaining access opened fire and threw a hand grenade. Sergeant Rue was killed outright and Constable Vanderburgh, Mrs Danaher and the publican Miss O’Shaughnessey were all wounded. (www.warofindependence.net)February 3rd 1922 Lisdoonvarna, County Clare Two RIC constables and Black and Tans William Gourlay and Frank Kershaw were shot dead after leaving a pub.February 6th 1922 O’Boyle’s Belfast Thomas Gray, a barman in the pub was shot as he served behind the counter and died the following day in hospital.March 3rd 1922 Ship Street, Dublin An argument between a member of the Lancashire Fusiliers and Edward Reed in a pub on Ship Street resulted in the two men fighting on the street outside the bar. Shots were heard and Reed collapsed to be taken to hospital where he died the next day.April 20th 1922 Cosgrove’s York Street, Belfast RIC Constable John Bruin is shot as he tried to stop a robbery and died from his wounds.June 1922 McGuills Bar, Drumintree, County Armagh An IRA unit led by future Fianna Fail cabinet minister Frank Aiken uses the bar for an ambush on a fourteen strong B Special patrol and Constable Thomas Russell is shot in the head and killed.July 6th 1922 Mary Willie’s Bar, Urlingford, County Kilkenny Two men are shot dead.July 24th 1922 Dublin Two customers are shot dead when Republican soldiers attacked and attempted to rob a pub.August 5th 1922 Britannic Public House, Newtonards Road, BelfastUlster Constable Samuel Hayes is shot and another man woundedMarch 24th 1923 McMahon’s, Belfast Publican Owen McMahon, six of his sons Gerard, Frank, Patrick, Edward, john and Bernard and a barman who worked for the McMahons. The killing was carried out by men in the Ulster Special Constabulary a branch of the R.I.C. and the Government in the Irish Free State believed that the killers were led by Detective Inspector John Nixon but no charges were ever brought.March 23rd 1923 Ballagh Public House, Kilkenny Three Irish Free State soldiers were taken by the anti-Treaty I.R.A. from the bar near Adamstown. They were taken to the village of Adamstown where they were shot dead later that night. The murdered men were Patrick Horan, Edward O'Gorman and Thomas Jones. A fourth soldier named as John Croke, was badly wounded when he was shot in the leg when the attack on the bar began.
The first operation carried out against the enemy in Belfast for the purpose of killing was in January, 1921, when three R.I.C. men were shot - on the 26th of that month - in Roddy's Hotel. This job was carried out by four men, who did the actual shooting, and four others outside as a covering-off party. The four men who did the shooting were: Roger McCorley, Seamus Woods, Joe Murray and myself. We had no prior warning as to this operation. In fact, at the time of the shooting I did not know who the men were, or what they were shot for, beyond the fact that they were R.I.C. I just happened to be met accidentally on the Falls Road by Seamus Woods and Joe McKelvey, and asked if I wou1d go on a shooting job immediately. They had no doubts as to my reply. We were told that there were three men who had arrived from the Dublin R.I.C. Depot.
That night and were staying in this place, known as Roddy's Hotel, which was in actual fact a public house with a certain amount of accommodation for boarders. It adjoined Musgrave Street Barracks, the headquarters of the R.I.C. in Belfast. We went to the public house at about nine o'clock and went into a snug. The man to whom most credit should be given for this operation was Vincent Watters, one of the two barmen on duty at the time, who was a member of C. Company, 1st Battalion. He had given information as to the presence of these R.I.C. men, and he kept us informed as to their movements. When we arrived at the public house, we learned that they had just finished their drinks and gone upstairs. The pu1ic house was pretty full at the time, and it was not considered advisable for us to follow them up. Watters suggested that we should wait until the public house closed. We did so. In the meantime, there were at least two R.I.C. men from the adjoining barracks drinking at the bar, and it was necessary to get rid of them. One of them was friendly to Watters, and Watters suggested to him that he should take his friend, or friends, somewhere else for a drink, as something might happen that night. He took the hint and they departed. When closing time cane, we pretended to leave the pub by a side door. Watters, however, pointed the way up the stairs and said our quarry was there.(The owners daughter Julie Roddy attempted to raise the alarm but she was hit with the butt of a gun which broke her wrist)
The four of us went upstairs. We opened the door of the wrong room. It was empty but, by that light, we saw another room.
The three R.I.C. men were in bed, two of them in one bed and one man in another, a single bed. They knew our purpose immediately. We threw open the door, switched on the light, arid they started screaming. It was a particularly ghastly business, but we had to do it and it was done. We got away without difficulty, although we had less than half an hour before curfew time. I should mention that .45 revolver ammunition was very Scarce in Belfast at that time, and we had no cartridges beyond what were in our revolvers. After this job, the ammunition position improved as G.H.Q. sent us a special supply. During curfew hours that night, the R.I.C. proceeded to a house in the Ardoyne area and shot dead, byway of reprisal, an innocent man who, as far as I know, had no connection with the movement. We discovered that the R.I.C. men we shot consisted of two men escorting a third man, who was principal witness against a Volunteer named Gray, who was awaiting trial for the shooting of an R.I.C. sergeant at Ballymote fair. The two escorting police were killed and the principal man badly wounded. The trial, to begin. the following day, was postponed until the witness recovered. He did so after about five months, and Gray was duly sentenced to death. He was the first I.R.A. man to be sentenced to death without reprieve after a courtmartial trial in Belfast. The Truce,coming into operation, saved his life but, if we had not carried out the operation in Roddy's Hotel, Gray would have been hanged within a few weeks.(The two barmen in Roddy’s were arrested and tortured for information on the shooters. Watters was crippled by the treatment and the other barman by the name of Murdock broke but he had very little information to give except for the fact that he know Watters was in the IRA.)
Witness Statement of James Fraher, Waterfod
In February 1921 six members of an IRA Flying Column were meeting in the back room of Hickey’s pub about 11pm when the pub was raided by members of the Black and Tans. While the Tans attempted to gain access to the back room, the flying squad members escaped out the rear door. As they were leaving their O/C Jimmy Leahy shot and wounded a Black and Tan who was climbing over the back gate. The Black and Tans left empty handed but less that an hour later six masked men with English accents broke into the pub and pulled Hickey from his bed, they threw him down and stairs and shot him dead in his kitchen.
2 Many pubs especially in rural towns were located next to or opposite Army barracks or RIC police stations. They were used as locations to scout the movements of soldiers and police officers.
Witness Statement of Michael Leahy, Cobh County Cork. “I decided, in the case of Cloyne, to commence the attack by using gelignite to blow in the side walls of the barracks from inside the two public houses adjoining the barrack building. My intention then was to throw in petrol through the breaches, set the place on fire and compel the garrison to surrender. Things did not, however, work out as I anticipated. The attacking party assembled in the Cloyne Technical School shortly before 10 p.m. that night and at about 10 p.m. I placed a party of 15 men with rifles and shotguns on houses opposite the barracks and about half a dozen in positions at the rear of the barracks. Just before 10 p.m. I sent a couple of men into each of the public houses on either side of the barracks to hold the doors open for us when the pubs closed at 10 p.m. The remainder of the attacking party, numbering about 20, came in twos and threes up the village street about a few minutes after 10 o'clock to enter the public houses as arranged. We found that the pub door on the Ballycotton (east) side of the barracks was still closed. The pub door on the Midleton (west) side was open all right. Some of our lads entered the pub on the west side and we proceeded to smash with an axe the panel of the pub door on the east side. Seeing this wasn't successful, I grabbed an iron bar off the window shutters, broke the shutters and the window and got into the pub with about eight others. While we were doing this, Diarmuid Hurley of Midleton fired with a revolver through a loophole in the steel shutters of the barracks and then dashed into the pub on the west side of the barracks with his party The R.I.C. were, of course, now alive to what was happening. They fired here, there and everywhere through the barrack windows, chucked out grenades and sent up Verey lights. Our lads from the houses across the road opened up on the barracks with rifles.
The party with which I vas now proceeded to get the occupants of the pub out. Beds were dismantled and bedsteads and mattresses placed up against the wall to protect the men (those boring holes and setting fuses) from grenades. I got out on to the roof of the public house with the intention of throwing a bomb down through the skylight of the barracks, but I was fired on by our men across the road who mistook me for one of the R.I.C., and I had to beat a hasty retreat. Holes were drilled in the party wall from the public house in which we were and gelignite inserted. Then we found we had blown a hole through which we could see four of the rooms on the ground floor of the barracks, none of the holes were big enough to allow us through, so further charges of gelignite were inserted and exploded. Meanwhile, Hurley from the pub he occupied on the other side of the barracks was also trying to blast his way into the barracks. He blew a small hole insufficiently large to give entrance, so he decided to throw some petrol into the breach he had made and start a fire. He did this just as our second explosion went off, with the result that we, on our side, could not for the time being enter the lower rooms of the barracks because of the flames from the blaze started by Hurley All this time the garrison was 'flaking' away with rifles and grenades. Our lads from the front and rear were replying. We fired from revolvers into the barracks through the breach in the wall on our side. Hurley did the same on his side, when I decided it was time to have a showdown. I shouted to the R.I.C. that the place was on fire, that we were coming in and that they should surrender. There was no reply for a while and then I was told by one of our lads outside that a white cloth was put out by the R.I.C. from one of the top windows. I rushed into the lower rooms (two of which were actually on fire) through volumes of smoke followed by our lads and shouted to the garrison to come down with their hands up. They came down and were marched out on to the street under an armed guard. We rushed up into the barracks through a room which had not caught fire. As we went upstairs we were met with explosions from ammunition which the flames had now reached. We searched desperately through the smoke and flames and collected all the guns we could lay hands on. I had brought the R.I.C. sergeant back into the burning barracks with me to help in locating the arms and ammunition. In the corner of one room I saw a box actually on fire. I rushed to get hold of it as I suspected it contained ammunition. The sergeant shouted to me not to touch it as it contained grenades. Needless to remark, I left it severely alone. “
3 One of the most famous or infamous cases of the work of a barman was Michael Leahy who worked in Wren’s Hotel bar in Cork City. He had identified a guest who was asking to set up a meeting with Michael Collins who at that time had a £10,000 bounty on his head. This guest identified himself as John Quinn and as Leahy described it was being ‘very loud’ about discussing Casement’s Irish Brigade that the executed Roger casement had tried to form in Germany prior to the 1916 Rising. Leahy, the ever vigilant barman informed local IRA commander Michael Murphy who made himself known to ‘Quinn’ in the hotel. Quinn informed him of a imminent raid on the hotel and Murphy evacuated the place of IRA men and the RIC duly arrived and raided the premises but Murphy was suspicious. Eventually Murphy made contact with GHQ in Dublin and the order was given to execute ‘Quinn’ as a spy. In February 1920, Murphy and two associate took Quinn into a field on the pretence of fixing a machine gun and summarily executed him. It turned out that ‘Quinn’ was Timothy Quinlisk on of the British’s most prolific spies. Born in County Wexford he joined the Irish brigade of the British Army but was captured in Germany. He joined Casements Irish Brigade but took no part in the Rising and was not released as a POW until 1918. He returned to Ireland and became a spy for the RIC. His father Denis was a policeman too.
5 The pub was at the centre of Irish social life in the early 1920’s and the barman was a master at overhearing gossip from both sides and passing it on. In the case of a barman passing information to the British it was often for money and sometimes could not be relied on as it was often misleading and planted by the IRA.
6 All sides of the conflict used the pub as a focal point and it was easy for the barman to identify the often regular movements of his locals. And it was not just the staff but the publican as well. The publican often provided a safe haven for IRA men on the run, a quiet place to plan operations and meet. The pub also served as a location for the storage of weapons and munitions especially in the wooden beer and whiskey casks that would be stored in his cellar.Where would we be as a nation without beer, wines and spirits.