most serious reverse suffered by a battalion of the Second Cork
Brigade occurred a few miles from Mallow on 15th. February, 1921.
Battalion Column, under Commandant Jack Cunningham, occupied a position about a
mile south of Mourne Abbey. A conference of senior British officers was being
held at division headquarters in Cork
around that time and the intention was to attack a convoy travelling to or from
the conference. Thirteen
I.R.A. riflemen, were posted on the rising ground west of the main road.
Sections armed with shotguns were also positioned on the eastern side of the
road. Scouts were posted and all was ready by the early hours of the morning of
into Mallow on the Burnfort road that morning a local lady, Siobhan Lankford,
encountered two lorry loads of troops and police. Aware that an I.R.A.
operation was planned for Mourne Abbey she immediately became suspicious of the
mission of the occupants of the two enemy lorries. When she reached Mallow she
asked Daniel McDonnell, the Mallow Company I.O., to get to Mourne Abbey and
warn the officers there. McDonnell
cycled to Mourne Abbey along the main road and located battalion commandant,
Tadg Byrne near the southern end of the ambush position. Together they crossed
the Clydagh, a stream flowing parallel to and beside the road, to the position
where Commandant Cunningham was with the riflemen.
I.R.A. section managed to fight their way out of the
trap along this road. Four others were shot dead on
the rising ground to the left.
few minutes firing started, to the north east of the ambush position. Protective
sections there were engaging British troops. Reports came in indicating the
presence of enemy forces on three sides of the position. Suddenly the column
found that it was in the role of ambushed rather than ambusher. The British
forces were equipped machine guns and armoured vehicles. In the circumstances
the column was forced to withdraw, fighting its way out as best it could. Sections
to the west of the road were lucky in that one British detachment was slow in
taking up position, leaving a gap through which they were able to retreat westward
sections on the eastern side, where the first shots were fired, fared badly.
Three men Patrick Flynn, Monee, (aged 25), Patrick Dorgan, Island,
(22) and Eamon Creedon, Clogheen, (20) were shot dead. Another man, Michael
Looney, Island, (30) died
later of his wounds,. Eight prisoners were taken, of whom two were subsequently
executed at Cork.
They were Patrick Ronayne, aged 24, of Greenhill and Thomas Mulcahy, Toureen,
aged 18, both of whom were members of the Burnfort company.
discovered some time later that it was an informer by the name of Dan Shields
who gave details of the position of the ambush to the British authorities.
Shields was also responsible for a raid, two weeks later, on two republican
columns at Nadd, near Banteer in which three volunteers lost their lives.