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Dublin Opinion >>
The Irish Army in action
crime and justice |
Monday August 22, 2005 06:40 by Peter Newman - author
This is what Irish government soldiers have done.
The Nazi is in all of us.
....the nine prisoners, all bruised and battered from the beatings they got from their Free State captors, were put into a lorry, which was heavily escorted, and driven along the Castleisland Road .....
" They were being taken, they were told, to remove barricades. They did not believe that - sick men with useless hands and arms. One of the soldiers handed each of them a cigarette. "The last smoke you'll have," he said. The lorry pulled up near the corner of the Killorglin Road, beside Ballyseedy Wood. They saw a log lying across the road. They were made to get out of the lorry and stand in a close circle around the log.
The soldiers had strong ropes and electric cord. Each prisoner's hands were tied behind him, then his arms were tied above the elbow to those of the man on either side of him. Their feet were bound together above the ankles and their legs were bound together above the knees. Then a strong rope was passed round the nine and the soldiers moved away. The prisoners had their backs to the log and the mine, which was beside it; they could see the movement of the soldiers and knew what would happen next.
They gripped one another's hands, those who could, and prayed for God's mercy upon their souls. The shock came, blinding, deafening, overwhelming ..... "
BALLYSEEDY CROSS .... continued….
.... John Shanahan was taken by his Free State captors into a dark cell with nine coffins in it ; they pointed out his own coffin to him and questioned him again regarding the names of his comrades on the outside . He stayed silent. He was marched back to his own cell and locked in ....
" The prisoners were given some kind of trial in the Workhouse on March the third, but no sentence was told. They were kept there for three days more. Shanahan's back had grown weak since the beating in Ballymullen, and before March the sixth, he collapsed. His illness saved him when his comrades were taken out.
Very early on Wednesday, while it was still dark, Stephen Fuller was called out of his cell. He was taken to the guardroom. George Shea and Timothy Twomey were with him and they found six more prisoners there. An officer was shouting at Patrick Buckley, accusing him of having deserted from the RIC, raging against him for giving over a barrack to Michael Brennan before the Truce. It was true: he had done it - he was to get his punishment now.
The prisoners looked ill; one had a broken arm; all were scarred and bruised and suffering - James Welsh had a bandage on his broken wrist. The Free State soldiers searched them in the guardroom and took their cigarettes. They were put into a lorry with a heavy escort and driven along the Castleisland Road .......
.... George Shea, Tim Twomey, John Shanahan and Stephen Fuller were captured on the twenty-first of February in a dug-out .....
" They were taken, to be interrogated , to Ballymullen Barracks in Tralee . 'Interrogation' by (David) Neligan in Ballymullen Barracks was an ordeal under which reason might give way. The prisoner, in the usual practice, was first blind-folded, then his arms were tied to his sides, and 'interrogation' began. This time a hammer was used. The prisoners were taken in separately. When John Shanahan came out his head was covered with blood and his spine was injured, but he was still able to walk .
The hammer failed. The prisoners were taken out to be shot, and shots were fired round their heads. They were then sentenced, for their obdurate silence, to be executed at midnight and were then locked in their cells. At midnight Stephen Fuller heard his comrades being taken out one by one and heard shots fired in the yard. The guards came for him and took him down to a dark cell. He saw nine coffins there with the lids closed. "Three of those have their men," they told him, "and this is yours," and they stopped to unscrew the lid.
For half-an-hour more they were questioning him, he wishing only for a sharp end . Then they locked him into his cell again.
.....John Daly was beaten by the Staters in Tralee Jail - when they were finished, his spine was injured beyond recovery .......
Michael Connell was only twenty-two years old , but since the Conscription menace he had been a Volunteer . He was taken in the middle of February at a dance; he was unarmed and his mother had no fear for him. She saw him looking out of the prison window on Tuesday evening.
"I'll write tomorrow," he called. She would not believe that he was one of the victims until a girl who had seen the bodies told her there was a "black curly boy" - she went up and looked then, and knew her son .
James Walsh was well known to be in danger, being a leader and a man with great influence among the people. George Shea, Tim Twomey, John Shanahan and Stephen Fuller were captured on the twenty-first of February in a dug-out.
......eight prisoners at Ballyseedy Cross, four at Killarney, five at Cahirciveen; the Free Staters were executing prisoners in reprisal for the mine at Knocknagoshel, which killed five Staters - two Captains, two Privates and a Lieutenant .....
Every precaution against disclosure was taken by the murderers; every preparation was made to make Ireland believe a lie; yet every detail of those three massacres "by most miraculous organ" has been revealed. Nine prisoners were taken from Tralee to be killed at Ballyseedy Cross, and nine coffins were sent out from the jail, but only eight men had been killed .
Their names were John Daly, George Shea, Timothy Twomey, Patrick Hartnett, James Connell, John O'Connor, Patrick Buckley, and James Walsh.
Patrick Buckley, who had five children, was thought by some of his friends to be safe in jail - he had done so much for Michael Brennan in Limerick in the trouble with the Black-and-Tans. There were others who knew that his action then would be little protection to him now. John Daly was captured on the 4th of February. He had been in the Republican Army for seven years or more, and was known to the enemy.
They beat him until his spine was injured beyond recovery, in Tralee Jail.
.....the Free Staters claimed that the incident was caused by a land-mine planted by the IRA on the Killorglin Road - but the IRA had not built a barricade nor planted explosives on that road at the time, and could not have been responsible .....
They had, however, at Knocknagoshel, attached a trigger-mine to a dump. The following statement was issued on the tenth of March (1923) from IRA Headquarters, Kerry No.1 Brigade --
" A trigger-mine was laid in Knocknagoshel for a member of the Free State Army, Lieutenant O'Connor , who had made a hobby of torturing Republican prisoners in Castleisland. On Tuesday, a party of Free State troops, including Lieutenant O'Connor, proceeded to the place, and two Captains, Lieutenant O'Connor, and two privates were killed. "
Reprisals on prisoners, instituted by the Free State Government in Mountjoy on December 8th, 1922, had become a systematic practice in their jails. It was concluded that the slaughter of eight prisoners at Ballyseedy Cross and of four at Killarney and of five at Cahirciveen were reprisals for the Knocknagoshel mine.
But for one accident, so incomprehensible as to seem miraculous, what happened at Ballyseedy Cross could never be rightly known. That early on Wednesday morning a shattering explosion was heard, that a great rent in the roadside and hideous evidence of bloodshed were discovered later in the day, that nine coffins containing the mutilated remains of prisoners were sent out from the barrack and that for days afterwards 'the birds were eating human flesh off the trees at Ballyseedy Cross' - these facts and these only would be known.
The explanation put out by the Free State authorities was known in the locality to be untrue. They said that the prisoners were blown up by mines attached to barricades set up by the Republicans in Killorglin Road. No barricade was placed by Republicans in that neighbourhood on that night.