ON THIS DATE (6TH JUNE) 97 YEARS AGO : "I ORGANISED AN AMBUSH OF EIGHT RIC MEN.."
"On 6th June, 1921, I organised an ambush of eight R.I.C. men in Broad Street, Waterford, the ambush to take place about 8pm when the patrol of the R.I.C. men used usually pass down by the Cathedral, Broad Street, from their Barracks at Lady Lane, Waterford.
I had assembled about seven men all armed with revolvers in J.K. Walsh's public house nearby. The names of some of the men were Jim Conway, Phil Sheehy, Willie Nugent, Jack Ivory and Stephen Ambrose. Just as the patrol of R.I.C. men were due to put in an appearance the operation was called off by Vice-Brigadier William Keane who informed us (as far as I can recollect) that there was a meeting of I.R.A. G.H.Q. officers being held in Waterford that night and that our proposed ambush might result in the capture of these officers, as the British would be certain to carry out intensive searches following the attack on the R.I.C. patrol. I am not quite certain now, but I think that Vice-Brigadier Keane was subsequently reprimanded for his action on that occasion by Brigadier Paddy Paul who was very anxious that there should be more activity by the I.R.A. in the City at that time..."
- a statement given in 1955 by IRA Captain Daniel Ennis (aka 'Dan Power'), a Wexford man, 'A' Company, 4th Battalion, East Waterford Brigade. Later that same month (June 1921), Captain Ennis and two other IRA men were instructed to shoot an RIC Sergeant named O'Grady, who had done some "dirty work" and marked himself out as more of a target than he otherwise might have been. O'Grady lived in William Street, in Waterford, near to a public park, which was where the IRA men laid in wait for him, with a scout on the road outside - for three consecutive nights. But the RIC man never showed himself and, on sensing that all was not as it should have been, an IRA inquiry came to the conclusion that one of their own men, who was 'stepping out' with one of O'Grady's daughters, had told her of the plan and she, in turn, had warned her father.
That IRA man was court-martialled and advised to leave the area, which he did. More here but not, alas, in relation to the RIC man or if the romance between his daughter and the IRA man ever bore fruit, poisonous as it would have been.
From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.
An Irish-American who had taken an active part in the War of Independence and had been a consistent worker for the Movement in the United States, after a few months holiday here during which he had travelled extensively all over the country, gave as his view of the present situation in the country : "The national spirit is almost dead, dead, especially in the South. It is not so bad, though it is weak enough, in the North. But the South is very bad.
And in my opinion, the reason is that it has been deliberately killed, stifled, by the politicians. When the Free State was first accepted it was a very bad blow, but those in control then had to force it down the people's throats. A worse blow came when the Fianna Fáil party decided to accept the Free State and to persuade or force others to do likewise. Recently the Clann na Poblachta Party, former republicans, have gone the same way. Each in their turn, while keeping up the outward pose of republicanism, have done their utmost to undermine and destroy the national movement. Had they openly declared themselves Free Staters they would have been more honest and entitled maybe to some little respect.
As it is they are a much greater danger to the cause of Irish unity and independence than ever Basil Brooke and the Orange junta could be." (Next - 'NOTE WELL WHAT MR. E. KELLY SAID IN 1916', from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (6TH JUNE) 97 YEARS AGO - "I SAW HIM FALL, SHOT DEAD, THROUGH THE BACK..."
Before the ambush came off I protested against it being held as our men were very badly armed, having only a few
rusty old rifles and some shotgun with very little ammunition. I myself had a shotgun and five rounds of buckshot. We lay in ambush for a few hours on either side of the main Dungarvan road at Kilminion, when word reached us from scouts that the British were taking the coast road, via Ballyvoile, back to Dungarvan. We hurriedly made across country and had just reached Ballyvoile when I heard shots and saw some of our lads running to take up their positions.
I then saw two soldiers going quickly up the road towards where our men were. (They had seen one of our chaps crossing the road and that's how they knew we were there).The two soldiers I have referred to fired on Jack Cummins of
Ballyvoile as he was climbing over a wire fence on the railway embankment. I saw Cummins fall. He was shot
dead, through the back. I fired on these soldiers, forcing them to take cover..." - the words of Michael Cummins (no relation to Jack), Adjutant Stradbally Company, IRA Fourth Battalion, West Waterford Brigade.
The 'dungarvanmuseum.org' website (not available, at the time of writing) has the following descriptive passage on its website, in connection with the death of Jack 'John' Cummins -
'Ballyvoile (6th June 1921). On the 6th June 1921, a military cycling column of about 30 men were ambushed at Ballyvoile. Tom Keating of Comeragh, a brother of Pat's who was killed at the Burgery was in charge of the ambushing party. It was first decided that the enemy should be attacked at Kilminion, near Stradbally, where the County Council quarry now operates. They lay in waiting for a time, but then received word that the British were returning by the lower Coast Road. The Volunteer party hurriedly made their way across country and had just reached Ballyvoile, when a volley of shots rang out. Evidently the (British) military had seen them moving into position. Two of the soldiers moved into higher ground and opened fire again, and this time, Jack Cummins of Stradbally was shot just as he was getting over a barbed wire fence. The Volunteers returned the fire forcing the (British) military to take cover.The fight lasted about half an hour and then the Volunteers had to withdraw due to lack of ammunition. A plaque to the memory of Jack Cummins can be seen at Ballyvoile..'
Jack 'John' Cummins was only 23 years of age when a British soldier from the 'Kent Regiment' '(known as 'The Buffs') shot him in the back, on Irish soil, on the 6th June 1921 - 97 years ago on this date. A song about the Ballyvoile Ambush, written by Jack Daly, the grandfather of English singer Kate Bush, can be heard here. Kate's mother, Hannah, was born just across the valley from this location and her grandfather wrote many local songs.
IRA Volunteer Jack Cummins now sleeps 'Among Angels'. Rest in Peace.
From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.
The sacrifice? Yes, many a sacrifice must be made : you may lose a war pension, you may lose your job. You may be a member of an ex-servicemen's club where they will jeer or assault you. You may even have to forfeit your life.
You will be doing your duty and all you will receive in return is honour. Is it worth it? I am addressing only you who have doubts, and you who perhaps have had no doubts but are sincere of nature, and I know your reply - "Honour and duty are worth any sacrifice." Then is it not honourable to strive for the freedom of your country, is it not your duty to do so?
In all sincerity you may disagree with me. However, you will agree that it would be impossible to treat this subject fully in a short article, therefore let me reiterate - study what has happened and what is happening to your country. Be fair in your judgement and act accordingly. If you have been or are a British serviceman, please read these few lines again. They have been written by a man who, like you, served, fought and was prepared to die for England.
(NEXT - 'News, Comments etc', from the same source.)
VIEW FROM THE HILLTOP CAFE...
Arlene and May operate the cafe seven nights a week. Inside, there are about ten people, all members of the Orange Order or from families with Orange links, and all are in an angry mood - "We're going to get down this year and if we don't there'll be trouble." Sam, a farmer from nearby Dungannon, is mellow in his opinions. He can't understand why those who don't like the parade couldn't just close their curtains and turn their backs while the parade took place - "It's only a ten-minute church parade. Why can't they just let it pass? But what about the anti-Catholic songs often belted out by Orange bands? "Oh no," came the reply, "they only play hymn tunes on a Sunday. They (the objectors) shouldn't be offended with what they play on other days. It's only natural that other songs are played.."
A young girl, no more than 16, expounds the faults of the Good Friday Agreement ; referring to it as 'the Belfast Agreement', she claims that "..it showed that terrorism paid." She can't understand why Catholics are anti-Protestant and anti-British and also why they vote for Sinn Féin... (MORE LATER).
HOW TO BE IN THREE PLACES AT THE ONE TIME...
the Cabhair organisation to get ready and then to 'present' it on the 10th June and we would love to be able to attend the annual Bodenstown Commemoration, also on Sunday 10th June. But something's gotta give, as we obviously can't attend to all three events and, after an emergency meeting here in '1169 Towers', we decided to concentrate our efforts on the Cabhair raffle, our decision having been arrived at with no consideration at all given to the fact that that event is held in a nice, bright and warm indoors location with a (free for us!) restaurant and a bar within easy reach.
For now it's looking like it'll be Wednesday 20th June before we 'put pen to paper' here again, with an even longer absence to come in the near future : myself and the four girlfriends have been besieged by requests/demands to get ourselves back to New York to meet up with the gang that we haven't seen since 2016 - and a couple of weeks ago, we all five of us finally got our act together (...only been working on it since August 2016!), and we're a-headin' State Side in a few weeks time for one month. Only! And had we not got jobs, kids (and grandkids!), partners etc etc, we would have taken up all the offers we got and stayed for two months. And that's something we seriously intend to work on.
But anyway - our next post here should be on Wednesday 20th June 2018. If New York doesn't intrude too much between now and then, that is...!
Thanks for reading, Sharon.