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New book on the Ballymacandy Ambush of June 1921

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The last Black and Tan to die in Kerry during the War of Independence lay bleeding from a bullet wound to the neck for several hours in a cottage near Milltown before he succumbed to his injuries.

Constable John Stratton McCormack was mortally wounded in an IRA ambush at Ballymacandy between Milltown and Castlemaine on June 1, 1921 in an audacious attack involving dozens of IRA members from mid-Kerry, Castlegregory and Tralee.

A new book from Milltown historian and author, Owen O’Shea, follows many years of research into the events at Ballymacandy which occurred just six weeks before the end of the War of Independence and which claimed the lives of three RIC officers and two members of the notorious Black and Tans.

The ambush involved IRA, Fianna Éireann and Cumann na mBan units from Milltown, Keel, Callinafercy, Kiltallagh, and senior Kerry No. 1 Brigade members from Castlegregory and Tralee who had spent months in a hideout in Keel on the Dingle Peninsula.

Among the five killed was RIC sergeant James Collery, a father of nine children who lived at the Square in Milltown and who died at the hands of those who were his neighbours, as the War of Independence in mid-Kerry reached a bloody climax.

‘Ballymacandy: The Story of a Kerry Ambush’, published by Merrion Press, is the definitive account of one of the most important events in the Anglo-Irish War in Kerry and includes extracts from diaries, IRA pension applications, private correspondence and previously unpublished accounts from local IRA leaders like Dan Mulvihill, Jack Flynn and Tom O’Connor, who was officer commanding on the day. It describes the dramatic events in the lead-up to the ambush and how the local IRA were plotting a major assault on the Crown Forces for several months.

“This was a story I grew up with and I always wanted to know more about what happened at Ballymacandy, near my home place, on June 1, 1921. I have tried to tell this story from many perspectives, that of the IRA gunmen, the widow of the RIC constable, the hard-nosed District Inspector, the terrified civilians of my home village, the women of Cumann na mBan, the priest who prayed into the ears of the dying, the IRA’s informer within the police, and the schoolboys who watched as the remains were loaded onto carts,” Owen said.

“One of my most significant findings from the British Archives was an attempt by the military authorities to have the local doctor, Daniel Sheehan, struck off the medical register for allegedly failing to provide Constable McCormack with adequate care as he lay dying, and despite reassurances that medical aid was on the way. You get the sense that the Crown Forces were looking to blame anyone but themselves for their failing military strategy at this time.”

Ballymacandy offers an insight into the planning and execution of an IRA ambush, the critical and overlooked role of Cumann na mBan, the dangers faced by the policemen in Ireland at the time, the motivations of the men who lay in wait on the roadside, and the villagers who were, unusually and remarkably, saved the brutal reprisals which had become synonymous with the dreaded Black and Tans in 1921.

The IRA ambushers included prominent figures from the revolutionary period in Kerry including future TDs, Jack Flynn and Johnny ‘Machine Gun’ Connor, as well as Tadhg Brosnan from Castlegregory, Jerry and Billy Myles from Tralee, and Dan ‘Bally’ Keating, who died aged 105 in 2007, the oldest surviving veteran of the Anglo-Irish War.

“I am immensely grateful to the relatives of those involved in the ambush for sharing memories, correspondence and documents. Many of those who took part in these extraordinary and traumatic events rarely or never spoke about what happened but now, thanks to newly published archive material as the centenary of the ambush approaches, their stories can be told.

“I hope the book will contribute to a wider knowledge and understanding of these events during such a pivotal period in our collective history.”

The online launch of the book will take place tomorrow (Monday) at 8pm. Details can be found on www.owenoshea.ie.

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Green light for teen accommodation

By Michelle Crean  Plans for sheltered accommodation to house homeless teenagers in foster care have been given the go ahead. An Bord Pleanala has approved a three-storey building in Flemings Lane just off High Street, which will have eight bedrooms, two one bedroom apartments and one two bedroom apartment. The teens living within the premises […]

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By Michelle Crean
 

Plans for sheltered accommodation to house homeless teenagers in foster care have been given the go ahead.

An Bord Pleanala has approved a three-storey building in Flemings Lane just off High Street, which will have eight bedrooms, two one bedroom apartments and one two bedroom apartment.

The teens living within the premises will be supervised by applicant Eileen O’Brien who will live on the ground floor of the premises.

The two one-bed apartments on the second floor would either be rented out or used for independent living for the teenagers as they reach adulthood.

The two-bed apartment will be on the third floor. There are also plans for balconies at second and third floor levels.

The proposed apartment building is contemporary in design with a mix of stone and render finish on the lower floors and synthetic burned timber finish on the upper floors. The second floor is recessed at the front and the third floor is recessed at the front and the rear with a decorative feature on the front elevation comprising dark grey timber steel poles. The building will also have a flat roof.

Planning permission was granted subject to 14 conditions including a two-metre high boundary wall to be constructed on south, south-western boundaries of the site and there’s to be no overnight commercial guest accommodation.

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Fans return to Fitzgerald Stadium after eight months

By Sean Moriarty Officials from Fitzgerald Stadium remain hopeful that crowd capacity at the venue can be increased to 500 spectators in time for the Munster final on July 25 – subject to both national health guidelines and Kerry qualifying for the game. Last Saturday evening’s National League semi-final between Kerry and Tyrone was the […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Officials from Fitzgerald Stadium remain hopeful that crowd capacity at the venue can be increased to 500 spectators in time for the Munster final on July 25 – subject to both national health guidelines and Kerry qualifying for the game.

Last Saturday evening’s National League semi-final between Kerry and Tyrone was the first game at the stadium since the 2020 Kerry Petroleum Intermediate Club Football Championship Quarter-Final when Glenbeigh-Glencar played Beaufort on October 4 last year.

Due to current restrictions only 200 fans were allowed attend Saturday’s big match. That will remain in place for Kerry’s opening Munster Championship tie with Clare on June 26.

“It had been more than eight months since Fitzgerald Stadium welcomed back fans to the venue,” stadium PRO Tatyana McGough told the Killarney Advertiser. “Everything went exceptionally well.”

She is hopeful that more restrictions will be eased on July 5, paving the way for an increase in capacity to 500 fans in time for the July 25 Munster Final.

“It is likely that from July 5 up to 500 spectators may be permitted to attend games. We hope this number will increase for the Munster Final. If it is a Cork versus Kerry Munster Final the game will be fixed for Sunday July 25 at 4pm in the Fitzgerald Stadium. The stadium’s staff are very confident in being able to host any number of fans that may be allowed.”

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Garda appeal to park legally at beaches and public amenities

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An Garda Siochana is appealing to the public to park legally in designated car parks and spaces when visiting beaches, beauty spots and other public amenities. 

The good weather has seen an increase in dangerous illegal parking at these locations across the country in recent weeks. An Garda Siochana wants people to enjoy the summer but do so safely.

Parking illegally can lead to unnecessary risk and dangers such as pedestrians being forced to walk along dangerous roads. It can also prevent emergency services from gaining access to these amenities a seaside locations which could lead to the loss of life. 

“We encourage the public to plan their journeys and think safety first when parking your vehicle,” the Gardai said in a statement. 

“The outcome of parking illegally could be far more serious than a FCPN or vehicle towing and puts others and your own life at risk. 

An Garda Siochana reminds and encourages the public to social distance and follow public health guidelines when attending these locations this Summer.

An Garda Siochana is also supporting National Water Safety Awareness Week (June 14th – 20th). Information on this campaign and general water safety can be found on Water Safety Irelands Website – www.watersafety.ie/national-water-safety-awareness-week/

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