Manus O’Riordan


[ Note: The following commemorative article by this “grandson of Ballingeary” was first published in the “Northern Star”, March 2001.  It set out to challenge the revisionist attacks on “The Boys of Kilmichael” that had once again surfaced the previous November, on the 80th anniversary of that momentous ambush in this neighbourhood of ours that was of such critical importance to the War of Independence and the course of Irish history itself. Since then, the Kilmichael controversy has also been dealt with in considerable detail in Meda Ryan’s 2003 biography,”Tom Barry – IRA Freedom Fighter”. ]


Phil Kelleher of Macroom, Co. Cork, a top- class rugby player due to be selected as an Irish international, was aged 23 when shot in the back by two IRA gunmen on the night of October 31, 1920.  He had served with distinction as a Captain in Britain's War against Germany, and was awarded a Military Cross.  He was now serving in Britain’s War against Ireland as a District Inspector of the RIC and had in fact boasted that he would “clean up” his area.  He was accordingly targeted by the local IRA unit for assassination whenever a reprisal might be needed.  The occasion finally arose in response to the death in Brixton Prison of the Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence Mac Swiney, on October 25, 1920.  Kelleher’s death had been ordered by GHQ in Dublin and conveyed to the local unit by that area’s Flying Column Commander, who in turn was held responsible for its effective execution.  The Captain of the local unit that actually carried out that execution was subsequently forced to go on the run, although he was never caught.  Two young Protestants, Elliot and Chartres, were, however, shot by the IRA, having been accused of informing the Auxiliaries of the Captain’s original whereabouts.  The area’s Flying Column Commander was again ultimately responsible for such killings.  Two newspaper columnists, Kevin Myers and Eoghan Harris, have, of course, been waging a long campaign against the reputation of West Cork’s Tom Barry, charging him with full responsibility as Flying Column Commander for  any deed of this character perpetrated in his area during the War of Independence.  And they have damned him accordingly.

Kilmichael Ambush in The Irish Times

The arguments concerning the Kilmichael ambush of November 28, 1920, for which Barry was indeed both fully responsible and directly involved, have raged fast and furious, and those of an earlier controversy were brought together by the Aubane Historical Society in Millstreet and published as a pamphlet entitled “Kilmichael – The False Surrender”.  November 28, 2000 marked the 80th anniversary of that ambush and it was commemorated by two significant media events. The “Irish Times” column, “An Irishman’s Diary”, so long the preserve and repository of Shoneen invective on the part of Kevin Myers, and so often devoted to character assassination of Barry, was on that date vacated by its usual occupant.  In place of, and by welcome contrast with, the diatribe which we might have expected would otherwise have marked such an anniversary, the slot was instead occupied by a guest columnist, Pádraig Ó  Cuanacháin, who celebrated Kilmichael for the foremost historical event that it indeed was.  And that evening RTE transmitted a well-researched TV documentary by the Léargas team which pulled no punches in exploring all facets of the Kilmichael ambush, including the pros and cons of Barry’s own role.


Sleeping dogs, however, did not lie still for very long.  Four days later, the “Irish Times” of December 2 saw a two pronged counter-offensive launched against Barry’s character – the first in the form of a TV review by Eamon Delaney and the second by Kevin Myers, safely back in his “Irishman’s Diary” spot, and apoplectic that it had been occupied for even a day by the likes of Ó Cuanacháin.  Delaney-Myers evoked (or, should I say, provoked) a reply from myself on December 5, which a fortnight later had still not seen the light of day.  I continued to pressurise the “Irish Times” with the argument that while they might sometimes publish letters critical of Myers’ style, they were carefully censoring any correspondence that highlighted how Myers persistently got his facts wrong.  I pointed out that this would be the third such letter from myself that they were suppressing.  On this occasion the pressure worked and the letter was finally published on St. Stephen’s Day 2000, three weeks after submission, although missed by many because of the Christmas holidays.  In that letter I argued:


In his review of the Léargas documentary on the Kilmichael ambush (December 2) Eamon Delaney charges that Tom Barry derisively said of the dead Auxiliaries: “We threw them their money and their brandy hip flasks”.  Lest such an attributed quotation should now enter the history books and leave Barry damned for gratuitously abusing the corpses of his enemies, it is necessary to set the record straight.  Barry in fact took active measures to safeguard the corpses for subsequent identification and Christian burial.  His actual words recorded in the documentary were: “We took their arms, took their ammunition, took their notes, notebooks.  We left them their money and their brandy flasks and we pulled them away from the lorries – the dead bodies - and we set fire to their two lorries”.


In the same issue (December 2) Kevin Myers objects to Pádraig Ó Cuanacháin’s use of words in saying (November 28)  that the totally uninvolved civilian Séamus Ó Liatháin was “murdered in cold blood” but that the Auxie storm-trooper Cecil Guthrie was “executed”.  Yet in what Myers refers to as “Peter Hart’s outstanding study” Guthrie is also described as “executed”.  What Hart nonetheless fails to mention is that in one of the reference works which he himself cites, Father Pat Twohig’s “Green Tears for Hecuba”, Guthrie was identified as the actual Auxie who had murdered Ó Liatháin in Ballymakeera.


Myers proceeds to re-echo Hart’s incorrect claim that Ó Liatháin was “the only person killed by the Macroom Auxiliaries before Kilmichael”.  They were in fact in the process of establishing a reign of terror over what they regarded as the untermenschen of the West Cork Gaeltacht. 

(Note: “Untermenschen”, literally “less than men”, was the term used by the German Nazis to describe those whom they regarded as “lesser breeds”, the indigenous inhabitants of Eastern Europe whose countries they had invaded and occupied). Sunday after Sunday the Auxies systematically descended on Ballingeary at Mass-time in order to corral and abuse the villagers as they emerged from worship.  And in a “shoot-to-kill” mission on November 10, 1920 they murdered the unarmed Volunteer Criostóir Ó Luasa in the neighbouring townland of Túirín Dubh.  Hart chose to make no reference whatsoever to this murder, nor to the subsequent encounter between the gloating Auxies and the local parish priest and Gaelic scholar, an t-Athair Donncha Ó Donnchú, at whom they gleefully roared “There’s work for you back there!”.


By way of contrast with the vendetta pursued against Barry’s reputation, the Gaeltacht Volunteer leader Micheál Ó Súilleabháin was one IRA commander about whom Hart could not find a bad word to say.  He referred to Ó Súilleabháin’s annoyance at having to cancel his own plans to attack Macroom Castle after Kilmichael.  But he avoided quoting what Ó Súilleabháin actually wrote of Kilmichael in the latter’s own memoirs, “Where Mountainy Men Have Sown”.  For Ó Súilleabháin clearly set the ambush in the context of what proved to be unmentionable for Hart, the murder of Criostóir Ó Luasa:


“He was not armed.  It was a pity, for it was a remarkable fact that even a shot or two exchanged with these warriors disturbed their aim unduly. A few weeks later these marauding Auxiliaries were trapped at Kilmichael, a few miles to the south of our area.  Seventeen of them were killed”.


Indeed they were, and the course of the War of Independence was altered


Auxies – Marauding or Diciplined

So much for my reply to the “Irish Times” attacks. On November 26, both Eoghan Harris in the “Sunday Times” and John A. Murphy in the “Sunday Independent” had also previewed the TV documentary at length under their respective headings of “Kilmichael Gives up its Secrets” and “Bloody  Fable of Kilmichael’s Dead”.  Harris went out of his way to pay homage to “Peter Hart in his classic book ‘The IRA and its Enemies’ “.  But then he appeared to pull back somewhat from such a wholehearted commitment: “I do not fully accept Hart’s version”.  Harris nonetheless presented the marauding Auxies of Macroom as being guilty of no more than going on “a routine patrol” through Kilmichael. He went on to lay great emphasis on the fact that they were “mostly junior officers in their twenties” who had an OBE, three Military Crosses and a distinguished Flying Medal between them from the First World War and were now serving in Ireland “to taste again the comradeship of campaigning in arms”.  He also argued the following on their behalf:


“My account does not depict the Auxiliary Officers – as Cork Republican folklore does – as faceless digits who got their just deserts.  If that were true, the comrades of the dead men would have taken a savage revenge. Far from doing so, the Auxiliaries around Macroom remained disciplined”.


No revenge? Within a fortnight of Kilmichael, on December 11, 1920, the centre of Cork City was destroyed by fire in an Auxie-led pogrom.

( During the course of that night they effectively murdered an elderly  Jewish lady who had come to Cork as a refugee  in order to escape from the pogroms of Tsarist Russia,but who now suffered a heart attack and died as the Auxies ransacked her Tuckey Street home. In the early hours of the morning they went on to break into a house  in Dublin Hill where they murdered out of hand two unarmed Republicans asleep in their beds, the brothers Cornelius and Jeremiah Delaney. )  Days later, on December 15, the Macroom Auxies also murdered the parish priest of Dunmanway, Canon Magner, shooting him dead by the side of the road. The Auxie murderer in question was, by ironic coincidence, also named Hart.


Harris’s own modified version of Peter Hart went as follows:

“Barry was determined to take no prisoners so as to build a personal legend … At no stage of my life did I believe in the fake surrender.  I believe that Barry used a wounded Auxiliary’s dying shot to coerce his shocked men into murdering the survivors – and did most of the dirty work himself … Professor John A. Murphy, a local man who has heard the folklore, does not swallow the story (of the fake surrender) either”.

John A. Murphy And Bishop Buckley

The problem for Harris, however, is that it is not at all clear any longer what it is that Murphy believes on the matter. Previewing the TV documentary to be shown two nights later, Harris prepared his loyal readership for disappointment in the Professor:


“Murphy and Dr. Buckley, The Roman Catholic Bishop of Cork and Ross, will be among those taking part.  But in view of the prevailing pietas I shall be surprised if they dance on Barry’s grave”.


Inchigeela’s own Bishop Buckley, of course, proved to be as much an irritant to the “Irish Times” as he was to Harris.  Eamon Delaney snidely commented:


“At the end, Bishop Buckley, a ‘local man’, said that ‘The Boys of Kilmichael’ was a great song: ‘I’d  sing it for you, only I’ve no great voice’  No Bishop, please don’t.  I’m sure you’ve got other things to be doing”.

And in the same issue Myers opined:


“Now what happened in Kilmichael – whatever it was – should not be the subject of pride, or boastfulness, or vainglorious satisfaction, and least of all song … It is an obscenity to carol joyfully at such things, as does the song with which the (Ó Cuanacháin) diary began”.



The double think here is quite amazing.  Which Bishops are to be told by the “Irish Times” what songs they should or should not sing?  Just like any other subject he touches, Myers is also dogmatically opinionated on questions of Church music – whether Catholic or Protestant.  Yet he has never once addressed the subject- matter of one of the most powerful Anglican hymns sung by both the Church of Ireland and the Church of England,  “ See The Conquering Hero”.  This anthem was composed by George Frederick Handel in 1746 in honour of the Duke of Cumberland – already known in England itself as the “Bloody Butcher” because of his conduct at the Battle of Culloden and his follow-up “ethnic cleansing” campaign of massacre, famine and clearances against the Highland clans of the Scottish Gaeltacht.  By comparison with the dark reality of genocide that lies behind “The Conquering Hero”, the sentiments of “The Boys of Kilmichael” are positively angelic. Yet the latter song induced a schizophrenic response on the part of John A. Murphy who wrote of his own parents:

 ‘The Boys of Kilmichael’

“Whenever they sang ‘The Boys of Kilmichael’ (which they rarely did because they found its braggadocio unpleasant and because in any case their nationalist repertoire was too wide and rich) they used the more genteel punch-line about ‘the boys of the column’ making ‘a clean sweep of them all’.  However, the no-holds-barred reality of the encounter is more truthfully and more terribly depicted in the vulgarly robust version: ‘the Irish Republican Army made s**t of the whole f***ing lot’.”


But at this point Murphy went a step too far.  Perhaps a crudity-for-its-own sake version has now become more popular.  But in my own parents’ generation, not to mind Barry’s , such use in company of the “f” word would not have been tolerated.  Indeed, in the wider Republican movement nationalist arguments were advanced in an attempt to hold such words at bay by referring to them as “British army language”.  Barry would not have countenanced such a performance for a minute.  As a 12 year old boy in September 1961 I was privileged to participate in an extensive tour of Kilmichael, Crossbarry and other West Cork battle sites that was conducted by Barry himself and other veterans of his Flying Column, including Battalion Commandant Jim Hurley (a distant relative of mine), Tom Kelleher, Pete Kearney and Jack Hennessy.  And when at the end of the day that song was once again sung in honour of these heroes, the words were as I had always heard them sung, describing the Auxies only too accurately in every sense of the word as “the whole bloody lot”.


Murphy became even more schizophrenic when referring to Hart’s arguments:


“The ‘false surrender’ incident has been much disputed, most recently in a detailed analysis by historian Peter Hart in his admirable book, ‘The IRA and Its Enemies’…”

Dr. Jeremiah Kelleher

Having expressed such admiration for Hart and gone on to nit-pick Barry’s accounts, Murphy then proceeded to sit on the fence.  His most coherent contribution as Harris’s “local man” was to recall the role of his family GP, the Macroom coroner Dr. Jeremiah Kelleher.  He did indeed testify to the personal integrity of that Catholic loyalist:


“Kelleher had been personally affected in the course of the Troubles when his son, a RIC Officer, had been shot dead by the IRA … Though he made no secret of his anti-nationalist views, it is said that he won the respect of his enemies for unfailingly answering the call of duty in tending confidentially to wounded volunteers.”


In highlighting how it had been Kelleher who had conducted the autopsy on the bodies of the dead Auxies, Murphy went on:


“His bristling integrity commands respect for his Kilmichael evidence.  While not corroborating the wilder British charges of ‘hideous mutilation’, the doctor testified that the Auxies had been riddled with bullets, three had been shot at point-blank range, several had been shot after death, and another’s head had been smashed open”.


But all that this was evidence of was the ferocity of the battle, and told us nothing about the circumstances of surrender, whether false or true.  In the end Murphy climbed back up on the fence concerning that particular issue:

“No Room For Sentimentality……..”

“There is no room for Thomas Davis parlour-sentimentality in guerrilla warfare, any more than there is for the Queensberry Rules or the Geneva Convention.  That is why the ‘false surrender’ controversy is irrelevant … At Kilmichael, Tom Barry’s guerrillas did what guerrillas do”.


But the controversy is not at all irrelevant since it constituted a central thesis of what Murphy himself referred to as Hart’s “admirable book”.  Harris was obviously quite annoyed that Murphy’s backsliding on that issue had gone further than his own.  Even less palatable was the fact that in both the TV documentary and his own newspaper article Murphy made it clear that the Kilmichael ambush took place in the context of a War of Independence being waged in the face of Britain’s bloody denial of the right of  national self-determination.  As Murphy put it:


“There were many factors at work during the Winter/Spring of 1920-21 which must be considered in explaining the radical change in British offers to nationalist Ireland over that period, from modest devolution to the substance of independence.  But the role of the guerrilla struggle cannot be gainsaid … There is more than an element of truth (making due allowances for local boasting) in the claim made by that other ballad that ‘The boys who beat the Black and Tans were the boys of the County Cork’.”


Harris exited with a rather different conclusion, having berated both Murphy and Bishop Buckley for not dancing on Barry’s grave:

 “Let me leave you with a question.  After the ambush at Clonfin on February 2, 1921, Seán Mac Eoin bandaged the wounded Auxilaries and sent them home.  Which man do we respect most – Barry or Mac Eoin? No need to phone a friend”.

Mouth Of The Glen 1918

Such an example of caring for the enemy wounded had not, however, been the prerogative of Mac Eoin’s Longford.  It had also been practised as a matter of principle in West Cork for over two years.  It was there that the first post-1916 ambush of armed police took place, and not in Tipperary as is commonly assumed with reference to Dan Breen’s Soloheadbeg ambush on January 21, 1919.  Six months previously, Micheál Ó Súilleabháin had led the Béal a’ Ghleanna (Mouth Of The Glen) ambush on July 7, 1918, near the West Cork Gaeltacht village of Ballingeary.  It was recounted in his 1965 book “Where Mountainy Men Have Sown”, concerning which Daniel Corkery wrote in his Foreword:


“The book is nothing else than the people’s mind.  One might almost say the mind of this rock-built, meagre, sparsely populated terrain – the mind of the Gaeltacht … It tells us of a small enough band of young men – the writer himself was hardly out of his teens – from Coolea, Ballyvourney, Kilnamartyra, Inchigeela, Ballingeary who did not wait to be attacked.  Usually they went out to find the enemy”.


And how they engaged with that enemy in their first ambush was described by Ó Súilleabháin thus:


“Dan Mac Sweeney and Liam Twomey presented their revolvers.  Their opponent reached for his rifle which lay on the seat inside him.  As he grasped it a bullet scarred his neck deeply.  He fell from his seat and lay bleeding on the road … Johnny Lynch’s opponent still clung to his rifle.  He shouted for mercy, and said he was a married man with a wife and family depending on him; yet he would not relinquish the rifle.  Johnny, for a reasonable time, had taken him as easily as he possibly could.  He had risked life and liberty to spare him, even after hearing him boast of how the (Crown forces’) machine-gun had frightened the people at Coolea.  Now he had to treat him roughly, and when Johnny straightened himself up holding the captured rifle, the RIC man lay on the ground bruised and vanquished … The man scarred by the bullet said nothing.  Indeed it was a matter of regret with the Volunteers who knew him, and especially with Johnny who had experience of his courtesy during a raid on his house, that he should have been hurt.  They rejoiced when they learned that his wound was not serious”.


Ó Súilleabháin’s instincts were to be no less chivalrous to British Army opponents.  Two years later he led the ambush and capture of two heavily-armed military lorries outside Ballingeary on July 27, 1920.  In the face of “a long line of men, with guns pointing ominously”, the troops in the first lorry surrendered immediately at Keimaneigh. But it was different with the second lorry at Túirín Dubh:

Ballingeary Lorries

“The order to surrender was not in this case complied with.  Throwing themselves flat, they took the best cover available around and under the lorry.  A volley from the lads tore splinters from the woodwork over their heads and rattled on the ironwork.  That helped them to decide otherwise.  A white flag was raised on a rifle … Always, when Tommy was reasonable, we gave him the benefit of the doubt.  The Tommies from Keimaneigh were now brought over, and the thirteen were taken to a nearby disused house.  A fire was lighted, kettles were boiled and tea was made for them. After the tea, which they much appreciated, three men marched them, two deep, down the road through the village.  Showing them the road to Macroom, they told them that they were free to go in that direction”.

Events in Ballyvourney

The following month, at the Slippery Rock ambush on August 17, 1920, the British soldiers had not obeyed the call to surrender.  In the ensuing exchange of fire their officer, Lieutenant Sharman, had been killed outright and four of his men wounded, though not badly. Ó Súilleabháin tended to their wounds and sent them on their way.


Within a few weeks, however, the character of warfare in the area dramatically altered, and it was Britain itself that brought about such a transformation.  On Sunday, September 5, 1920, as people emerged from mid-day Mass at Ballyvourney Church, a covered British army lorry seemed to break down and apparently could not be repaired either by its own crew or by the soldiers from an accompanying open lorry.  Having finally said to “let it there to hell”, all of these soldiers mounted the open lorry and drove away.  Sometime later a number of unarmed Volunteers were brought over by the local children and lifted a corner of the lorry’s body covering to investigate. Ó Súilleabháin related:


“From within came a fusillade of rifle shots. Liam Hegarty, whether hit or not, managed to cross a low bank which served as the road fence on his side.  Then turning left he travelled in its small shelter for a short distance before he fell.   The other Volunteers and the children all escaped injury.  However, a young man, Michael Lynch, lived a few hundred yards down the road to Macroom.  Hearing the shooting he ran on to the roadway.  He was mortally wounded by a rifle bullet.  Whether the killers in the lorry aimed at him or not is not certain.  But it is certain that one of the miscreants crossed the fence and shot Liam Hegarty again as he lay wounded”.


Ó Súilleabháin’s book, like many another that could give the lie to Hart, is long out of print.  His summation of this critical turning point is as follows:


“What was the motive for this killing?  The enemy did not mention any, but we came to the conclusion that it must have been a reprisal for recent attacks on them.  The last action had taken place less than three weeks previously, at the Slippery Rock.  Here one officer and ten men, fully armed, had been opposed to a fewer number of the IRA, only two of whom were armed with rifles.  The British soldiers had been invited to surrender before fire was opened on them.  The officer in charge had been killed and four men wounded, but there had been no unnecessary shooting … We had taken them as easily as we could possibly have done, and had helped the wounded to the best of our ability.  The treacherous killing of an unarmed IRA man and a civilian, and the attempted massacre of others, including children, was not far off the Cromwell standard.  Whether the motive was just a vengeful one, or calculated to inspire terror, its result fell very short of the mark.  At that time the people of Ballyvourney, and indeed of all our area, would not yield an inch to tyranny or terror”.

“Bandage” Test

In spite of such murders and a further one in his own area of West Cork, none other than Tom Barry himself was also passing Harris’s “bandage” test with flying colours, in the hope that such murders would be the exception that proved the rule.  In “Guerrilla Days in Ireland” Barry described as follows the outcome of the fight at Toureen on October 22, 1920:


“Five of the enemy were dead, including Captain Dickson, four were wounded and six unhurt, except for shock … Not one of the IRA was hit.  The members of the Column helped to make the wounded Essex comfortable and supplied bandages to the unwounded for their comrades.  The dead were pulled away from the vicinity of the lorry and it was sprinkled with petrol.  The unwounded Essex were then lined up and told that their ruffianism during raids, their beatings of helpless prisoners and their terrorism of the civilian population were well noted, that their torturing of prisoners, as in the case of Hales and Harte, were not forgotten.  They were also reminded that, in September, they had arrested Lieutenant John Connolly, Bandon, an unarmed man, and after holding him for a week in the barracks had taken him out to Bandon Park and had foully murdered him there.  It was pointed out to them that on that day (at Toureen) they had been treated as soldiers, but if they continued to torture and murder they could expect to be treated only as murderers.  An Essex sergeant, who was now in charge, then thanked the IRA for their fair treatment and protested his innocence of murder and torture, stating he would carry the message to his officers and comrades”.


To no avail.  Britain had now unleashed the Auxies on the scene.  Their false surrender would cost Barry the lives of two of his men at Kilmichael.  But there would also be two Auxie murders in the weeks beforehand.  To return to Ó Súilleabháin’s narrative:


“The next shooting, the cold-blooded and deliberate murder of a civilian, took place in the village of Ballymakeera on the evening of November 1, 1920 … The Auxies from Macroom, in the twilight, appeared in the village.  One of their number entered a house, called out a married man named Jim Lehane (Séamus Ó Liatháin), a man who would not hurt a fly, and taking him across the road, shot him dead.  Nine days later we lost Christy Lucey (Críostóir Ó Luasa) at Túirín Dubh, Ballingeary … He was not armed … A few weeks later these marauding Auxiliaries were trapped at Kilmichael … “.


So much for Hart’s false claim that “their first and only victim before Kilmichael was James Lehane”.  Britain had indeed altered the character of warfare prior to Kilmichael but Kilmichael in turn altered the course of the war itself.  And Ó Súilleabháin, who had all of the noble attributes that Harris would seek to personify in Mac Eoin, exulted in Barry’s victory.  Moreover, Harris’s attempt to canonise Mac Eoin in order to demonise Barry is a non-starter.  For there can be little doubt that the Flying Column Commander leader in Mac Eoin himself would also have led him to exult in his fellow-Commander’s victory.


Harris’s portrait of Seán  Mac Eoin as a plaster saint was a smart alec stunt that carefully avoided any serious examination of the man’s own fighting record.  But why, when he damned Barry for Kilmichael, did Harris make no mention at all of Dr. Kelleher, the Macroom coroner who had performed the autopsy on the Auxies’ corpses, and still less of his RIC son Phil whose Military Cross from the First World War was at least as significant as those listed by Harris in respect of the dead Auxies?


The problem for Harris is that Tom Barry was in no way responsible for the shooting of Phil Kelleher, nor for the follow-up killings of the two young Protestants charged with informing.  That was the responsibility of quite a different Flying Column Commander – Harris’s own momentary hero, no less.  For District Inspector Kelleher had been shot far from his native Macroom, in the bar of the Granard, Co. Longford hotel where he had taken up residence, the Greville Arms of Michael Collin’s fiancée Kitty Kiernan.  In “Green Tears for Hecuba”, Pat Twohig puts it thus:


“Kelleher had been ‘unguarded’ in his remarks about the IRA in the wrong place, General Seán Mac Eoin’s home ground”.


 With Kitty Kiernan herself serving in the bar, Kelleher had been drinking sherry and talking about the fine inexpensive wine to be got in France.  Kitty had made her excuses to go upstairs and the piano started playing.  Whereupon two men came to the door and shot Kelleher in the back.  He immediately fell to the floor in a pool of blood.  And in Seán Mac Eoin’s own memoirs, “With the IRA in the Fight for Freedom”, he dismissed Kelleher as “a young ex-army officer who was given orders to take action against the IRA and clean up the area”.


To borrow the language of what John A. Murphy said of Barry at Kilmichael, we might therefore conclude:


“At Granard, Seán Mac Eoin’s guerrillas did what guerrillas do”.


And the attempt by assorted revisionist scribes to denigrate the Kilmichael ambush, which struck such a mortal blow against the most powerful Empire in the world, is seen to be incapable of withstanding the light of day.