Two Civil War News Stories, Oughterard in 1922

Connacht Tribune November 1922

By David Collins

Connacht Tribune 1922
Connacht Tribune 1922

Below is a transcription of two interesting newspaper clippings

Connacht Tribune November 11. 1922

Captors Captured

National Officers’ Daring Dash For Liberty

Night March Of Fifty Miles

Commdt. O’Malley and His Officers Back in galway again

After a tramp across mountain and moor and bog of over fifty miles, Commandant O’Malley, who was captured during the attack on Clifden by Irregulars on Sunday November 4th., together with Lieutenant Joyce, Captain Folan, Cadet Daly and Private Gorham, of the Irish army, reported to Oughterard with six Irregular guards as prisoners.

Sharp and decisive struggle

The arms which their guards utilised to keep them in custody dramatically cahnged hands on Tuesday afternoon at 4 o’clock, when a short sharp and decisive struggle for the mastery, took place on  a little peninsula on the remote Killeries, between Killery Bay Little and the main harbour. Soon the six Irregular guards were dis-armed, and Commandant O’Malley and his officers took command.
But the problem of rejoining the National troops was a difficult one; for since the recapture of Clifden nine days before, the Republicans were in control of the Joyce Country, and were known to be in some strength on the Twelve  Pins and the Maamturk Mountains, and the radical distance to Oughterard, the nearest National base, was well over thirty miles.

A thousand stars

As darkness fell, however, the National soldiers, bringing with them their erstwhile guards as prisoners, set out on a tramp of at least fifty miles. Commandant O’Malley, who has intimate knowledge of the wide stretches of Connemara. where he was born, was the guide. It was a glorious moonlight night, and a thousand stars gave the points of the compass. With the danger of re-capture ever hanging over them and six prisoners in their hands, the little party struck a south west trail across the heather tracks, and as dawn broke, they struck the road to Oughterard.

Six weary prisoners

At nine o’clock five bearded men- they had nine days growth of hair upon their faces- with rifles slung and six weary prisoners, presented themselves to the National garrison in Oughterard. The Republican prisoners whom they conveyed back for a distance of fifty miles are “Captain” william King, “Captain” Patrick Toole. “Lieutenant” Jos. Barray and three privates named William Murphy, John Keane and John Herwood.
Hungry, footsore and exhausted – their only food throughout the night had been obtained in mountain huts – the captors and the captured were given a good square meal, and a little later they proceeded onto Galway, where the prisoners were lodged in the local prison, and the daring resourceful officers retired for a well earned rest.

Connacht Tribune, November 11. 1922 

The Position in Connemara

The first message received  from Clifden since it was recaptured by the Irregulars, says that it is practically completely isolated from the outside world, except by sea.
The roads between Oughterard and Clifden have been rendered impassable; no train runs further than Oughterard, where the National garrison has strengthened its position, having taken up posts at Murphy’s Hotel, the Courthouse and Corribdale House.
In contrast with the position further west, the Civil guards have been quietly doing police duty in Oughterard for over a fortnight.

Attacked at daybreak

The National troops patrol the district almost continuously, but at night they are occasionally attacked by snipers. Fire was opened on the Courthouse a few nights ago, but a machine gun quickly put an end to it. The troops at Murphy’s Hotel were attacked at daybreak from a wood overlooking the town, and so accurate was the sniper’s fire that a bullet went through the window of the guard room and entered a pillow in one of the beds. A Lewis gun had the necessary effect.

Sniped at without effect

National troops also hold strongly Moycullen village, half way between Galway  and Oughterard, and the activities of their opponents have been confined to the cutting of an occasional telegraph pole or felling a tree. Troops removing a tree at Rosscahill post office were sniped at without effect.
West of Oughterard Telegraph poles have been cut at regular intervals and stone barricades bar all roads into Clifden. A medical officer was halted at one of these, and compelled to disclose his identity before he was permitted to pass.

Left his hat and military boots behind him.

Some days ago a patrol of National troops came upon some beds and field equipment supposed to have been used by an Irregular column, and it is stated that one of the leaders had to depart so quickly that he left his hat and military boots behind him.
The Irregulars have ample scope for operating in the mountain passes of The West, and it is believed it would take a considerably stronger force than is available to dislodge them.

Rails were cunningly unscrewed.

An attempt has even been made to prevent the train running to Oughterard. Rails were cunningly unscrewed some days ago and placed in such a position at the curve at Rinneen Lake that they could not be detected by the engine driver. Had not a linesman observed the break in the rail and stopped the oncoming train with a signal flag, it would have run into the lake
The Irregulars are not in occupation of the town of Clifden, but occupy positions on the hills outside so that they can watch approaches.

This page was added on 21/02/2012.

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