"Republican troups are inspected by Eamon de Valera in County Clare, ca 1918.
The army staged ambushes and surprise attacks on British soldiers
and then hid in households loyal to the Republic."  Life World Library-Ireland, 1964

Michael Cullinan (1900-1967) marching before de Valera
Third in column on right.  Story below is about him.
Name "Callanan" is an alias.

Ambush Near Loughrea

County Galway


Excerpts from The Irish Independent


Monday, November 1, 1920


Constable Timothy Horan was shot dead and Const. Keane was dangerously wounded in an ambush at Casteldaly, near Loghrea, on Saturday.

     According to the Press Association account, Sergeant Driscoll and 4 constables from Kilchreest, were cycling on patrol duty at noon when they were attacked in a deeply wooded district by about 100 men.
     The wounded constable received 2 bullets in the chest.  The other members of the patrol escaped unhurt, but 3 rifles and 5 bicycles were taken by the attackers.  the Press Association adds that a few of the attacking party can be identified, and that one arrest has been made.
     Another account states that there were only 3 policemen with the sergeant, and the latter threw himself on the ground when he saw the guns pointed over the wall.  He thus escaped injury and fired on the attackers.
     Constable Horan, who leaves a widow and young family, was a native of Kerry, sad is is said he was a quiet, inoffensive man.


Tuesday, November 2, 1920



     Further inquiries into the ambuscade on 5 police at Castledaly, about 7 miles from Loughrea, show that about 50 men interspersed in small groups over a distance of 40 yards on either side of the road, took part in the affray.  It appears the raiders' ammunition became exhausted in the early stages of the attack, and hand-to-hand struggles ensued, when an unsuccessful attempt was made to shoot Constables Dunne and Gilmartin with their own rifles.
     Sergt. O'Driscoll, who escaped after, it is alleged, discharging the contents of his revolver at the attacking party, led the patrol, and was followed in single file by Constables Horne, Keane, Dunne and Gilmartin.  Const. Horne, who was the first victim of the attack, staggered for refuge across the wall into a graveyard, where he was pursued and shot dead, his rifle being afterwards taken.  After discharging one round of ammunition at the assailants, Const. Dunne, who was also wounded, was overpowered and his rifle seized.
     Following a desperate struggle, Const. Dunne Broke away and with Sergt. O'Driscoll, fled to Kilchreest barracks, where they reported the matter.  Const. Gilmartin, whose rifle was also seized engaged in a hand-to-hand fight with the raiders who tried to hold him.  The constable later arrived at Kilchreest barracks minus his tunic, which was torn off in the struggle at Castledaly.
     A man name Niland, residing at Castledaly was subsequently arrested and conveyed in a motor lorry to Kilchreest barracks with the remains for Const. Horne.
     Reprisals followed, and five houses belonging to farmers residing in the vicinity of the ambush were burned on Saturday night.
     In the early hours of Sunday morning houses of prominent Sinn Feiners in Loughrea were searched.  In one case an aged man named Regan, whose sons were sought but could not be found, was, it is alleged, beaten.  The house of Mr. Wm. Flynn, publican, was visited in search of his son, Mr. J. Flynn, D.C., who was not at home.
     On Sunday afternoon four young men named M'Quaide (Loughrea), Raftery (Caherlivine), Smith (Earls' Park), and Leahy (Newtowndaly) were arrested.  Rev. J.J. Heagney, Adm. at the Cathedral on Sunday said he had had an assurance from the District Inspector that no reprisals would take place in the town.
     In response to notices posted up in Loughrea on Monday morning warning people to close their shops that day or abide by the consequences, business was practically suspended.
     At the Abbey Church Mass and prayers, at the request of the local constabulary, wer offered on Sunday for the happy repose of the soul of the late Const. Horne.

Thursday, March 24, 1921



     Peter J. Moylan and Michael Callanan, both of Crannagh, Loughrea, were arraigned before a Court Martial in Dublin, charged with the murder of Const. Horan, R.I.C., in an ambush between Kilchreest and Peterswell on October 30.
     Both declared their innocence, and evidence was given with the object of proving that they could have had nothing whatever to do with the occurrence.  It was also stated that Callanan was an active worker against Sinn Fein at the General Election in 1918.



     Peter J. Moyland and Michael Callanan, of Crannagh, Loughrea, pleaded not guilty when charged at Court Martial at the City Hall, Dublin, yesterday, with the murder of Const. Timothy Horan, R.I.C., on Oct. 30, 1920, on the Kilchreest, Peterswell road, where a police cycle patrol was ambushed.
     Mr. Healy, R.C., who with Mr. C. Bewley (instructed by Dr. Comyn), represented accused at the outset applied for an adjournment on the ground that the defence had not an opportunity of attending a preliminary inquiry, and in a capital charge it was most important that such an opportunity should be afforded.  Even in a pocket-picking case, a person accused could be represented at a preliminary inquiry.


     In this capital charge, however, they were not given the names of the police witnesses and they could not ascertain anything about them.  What he, counsel might describe as an anonymous document was supplied, which did not disclose the name of a single witness--and that, Mr. Healy submitted, was not in accordance with the Army Act.
     In this case, 2 country youths were brought before an army officer and they saw a procession of uniformed men passing before them.  They knew nothing of the procedure, and their solicitor was handed a document with numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and so forth as witnesses who would say something against the accused men.  "That is not the law," proceeded Mr. Healy, "and I am here to challenge it.  We should have an opportunity of challenging in a court of justice whether this procedure is correct.  If the state of the country is such that you cannot trust solicitors practising in his majesty's courts of justice, or those who wear the robes of King's Counsel, with the name of a witness for the purpose of investigating his character, then your whole procedure is vain.  It is wrong and illegal."


     One of his clients was an American citizen, and it would be a novelty to the people of the United States to know that this was this was the method of trying their citizen.
     The Prosecutor said that copies of the summary of evidence were served on the accused and sent by post to Dr. Comyn..
     Mr. Healy said that on Friday they could not find where the prisoners were and when they inquired they were pestered about from G. H. Q. to the city Hall, and from the City Hall to the Castle.  "It is almost as difficult," added Mr. Healy, "to find out anything about the matter as to find one's way into this place."
     The Prosecutor replied that he had a letter from the solictor for the defence, dated Feb. 7, stating that he understood a summary of evidence had been taken, and asking for a week's notice to prepare for the court martial, also asking to have a copy of the summary sent to him as soon as possible.


     A summary of evidence was taken in conformity with the Army Act, and accused had an opportunity of cross-examining every witness called for prosecution.  The solicitor for the defence got not only one, but three week's notice of the court martial, and he knew the name of the military prosecutor who could have given him the information.
     It was unreasonable to come at the last moment and make the objection that the names of the witnesses had not been supplied to the defence.  If the names had been required, the solicitor had only to write to the officer to whom he applied for a summary of evidence, and he would have been provided with the information.
     The court closed to consider the application, and on re-opening it was announced that the application could not be granted, and the trial proceeded.



     Opening the Crown case the Prosecutor, giving details of the fatal ambush, said the cycle patrol of 5 policemen left Kilchreest for Peterswell, 5 miles away in single file with 30-50 yards between the men.  At Castledaly the sergeant dismounted to read a notice on the church door.
     He again mounted, and as he entered a shrubbery he heard firing from his right and there, the sergeant then throwing himself from his cycle and going behind a wall on the left.  While, there, he fired a revolver shots at a man with a rifle at the other side of the road.  Considerable firing followed and the sergeant made his way behind the church, where he was joined by a constable bleeding from a bullet wound in the chest.
     The constable when he fell took his rifle off the bicycle and while on the road he saw 3 men armed with rifles firing in his direction.  He took particular attention of one of the men who, he said, was Callanan.  The constable afterwards got over the wall, made his way to the sergeant, to whom he gave his rifle and the latter kept firing until the attackers made off.


     The sergeant dressed the constable's wounds, and went across the fields to the house of a person who drove them to Peterswell.
     Another constable, proceeded Prosecutor, recognised Peter Moylan as one of the men.  He was not disguised, and the constable had known him for 6 or 8 months.  As he recognised Moylan 3 or 4 men came over the wall knocked down and kicked this constable, but he broke away, and ran across the fields, shots being fired at him.
     Constable Horan's body was brought in by an armed escort.  There was a large bullet wound in the back of the sergeant's head, and 5 bullet holes in his cape.
     Moylan's house was visited by Crown forces the same day and next day, but he was not there.  when arrested and charged he replied, "I am innocent.  I was in Loughrea that day."
     Callanan's house was visited on the 3 following days and he was not fund, but he came later to the police barrack, and when charged said "I was working in the bog that day."  In January Callanan, concluded the Prosecutor was identified from amongst a number of others as being one of those taking part of the attack.


     The sergeant in charge of the patrol, in evidence, bore out the prosecuting counsel's opening statement, and said that from the rifle and revolver fire he estimated that between 40 and 50 men were engaged in the ambush.
     To Mr. Healy--Witness saw Callanan being identified in Galway jail.
     Another of the patrol said 5 men fired across the road at him, but he could see only one face--that of Callanan.  Witness got to the back of the Church, where he gave the sergeant his rifle, which the latter used on the attackers, who, after some time made off and witness was rescued later.
     To Mr. Healy--He again recognised Callanan in Galway jail.
     Another police witness stated that he was dragged from his bicycle and kicked, while some of the crowd cried, "Shoot him, shoot him."  He recognised Moylan as one of the attackers.
     To Mr. Healy--Accused was about 8 or 10 yards away when witness saw him.
     Other police evidence being given the Crown case concluded.



     Mr. Healy, opening for the defence, said that an absolute mistake had been made so far as his clients were concerned.  Callanan lived with his aged mother about 2 miles from the scene of the occurrence.  The people who committed these outrages were as a rule strangers to the district.  It was not persons known to the police who attacked the police.
     It would be proved that Boylan was actually in Loughrea at the very moment he was alleged to have been taking part in the attack, and that Callanan was at work, while a witness who knew both prisoners would tell the Court what he saw coming down the mountain side a body of men who were strangers to the district.


     Commenting on the statement of police witnesses that accused were not found in their houses after the occurrence, Mr. Healy said he would like to know who would remain in his house and run the risk of reprisals.  Whole countrysides, innocent or guilty, had had to take refuge from the perils of reprisals.  Counsel finally pointed to the absence of corroboration in the evidence of identification.
     Accused being asked if they wished to say anything Moylan replied that he was absolutely innocent of the murder of Const. Horan.  He was not connected with anything in the nature of an ambush or with any murder.  On this particular day he was in Loughrea.
     Callanan said he was innocent of the charge; he knew nothing about it.  He was in the bog that day.  He added that he had canvassed against Sinn Fein at the election in 1915.


     The first witness for the defence said he knew Callanan to be a quiet, respectable, and inoffensive young man.  while on his own lands on the day in question witness saw between 50 and 70 men coming over the mountain most of them armed with guns, rifles, and revolvers which they pointed at him as they passed, then motioning him away.
     One of the men coming forward, ordered him to put up his hands, and he and his mother were then told to go into the house for an hour.  Neither of accused was among these men who were all strangers to the district.
     Later witness heard shooting, and subsequently found a policeman on the side of the road to whom he rendered all possible assistance.  All the male population in the district left their houses that night and witness put a number of women and children in his home.


     Cross-examined by the Prosecutor witness stated that when he saw armed men it did not strike him that they were going to do anything unlawful.  he thought they might be going out hunting.  He had heard of ambush but none in that part of the country.
     Several other witnesses disposed to the accused, Michael Callanan being engaged working in a bog some distance from the ambush at the time the police were attacked.  One witness stated that Callanan and himself at the last General Election canvassed against Sinn Fein.
     Evidence was also given to the effect that Peter Moylan on that day went through formalities at Loughrea connected with bail bonds, and that it was while he was there that he first heard of the shooting.  The family did not go home that night fearing reprisals.  Court adjourned till the morning.


Page 117

     However, the actions of the Black and Tans did not deter the activities of the IRA in Beagh or the surrounding districts.  In October the South Galway Brigade, including the Beagh Company planned and carried out an ambush in Castleday.


A patrol of RIC men left Kilchreest, cycled to Peterswell and returned along the same route a number of times each week.  The active service unit was selected and consisted of about thirty men, including Pat Loughnane of Shanglish, under Tom McInerney.  "On the night of October 30th they gathered in the mountains of Castledaly Church.  The RIC patrol approached.  There were four constables and a sergeant strung out over a couple of hundred yards.  The order to halt was given before the full patrol was caught in the trap and so the casualties were lighter that they might have been.  R.I.C. Const. Horan died, Const. Keane was seriously wounded.  Sgt. O'Driscoll with Consts. Dunne and Kilmartin carried Keane with them and escaped along the back road to Perrse's at Roxborough.  the ambushing party dispersed into the mountains.


     The, by now familiar reprisals took place.  Two men, Peter Moylan and Michael Callanan were arrested and charged with the murder of Horan.  They were tried in Dublin where they were defended by Tim Healy.  They were acquitted on 31st March due to the lack of evidence against them.
    After the Castledaly ambush, raids became so numerous that many of the Beagh Company had to remain on the run.  Intensive firing by the RIC and Tans was constant along the roads from their lorries.  Among the dreadful atrocities by the "Tans" was the murder of Mrs. Eileen Quinn from Corker.  She was shot dead as she sat outside on her own stile holding her young baby in her arms.    



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