I.R.A. Suffer Losses During Roundup at Nadd

(Irish War of Independence - Second Cork Brigade)

A memorial marks the place where three volunteers were shot dead by British forces as they attempted to make a dash for freedom.

Towards the end of February, 1921 British activity in the Lombardstown area forced Liam Lynch to move his brigade headquarters further west into the area then occupied by sections of the Mallow and Kanturk Columns around Nadd. A training camp had also been in progress there for some months, and David Herlihy's farmhouse had come to be known as "the barracks" The columns were widely dispersed amongst the farmhouses in the district. It was a base to which columns or sections of them returned after an action. The ambush at Father Murphy's Bridge had been carried out by a section of the Kanturk Column, which afterwards returned to Nadd.

Here, in the driving rain and fog of a raw March morning, the British forces staged one of their most elaborate and well planned efforts to annihilate the brigade staff and the columns. Large forces drawn from Cork, Ballincollig, Buttevant, Ballyvonaire, Fermoy and Kanturk were engaged. From before midnight on 9th. March these forces in their armoured vehicles had been moving out from distant posts, armed with rifles, machine-guns, mortars and grenades, and converging on this high, bleak upland on the northern slopes of the Boggera Mountains. Before dawn on the 10th., most of them were being quietly detrucked from unlighted vehicles in a huge ring, taking up their allotted positions in a circle of steel around the unsuspecting columns. They had good information, and this was to be a killing.

It was a well-planned operation, efficiently carried out, and its limited success was attributable to factors inherent in the conditions under which the British forces operated. For complete success it was necessary that the raiding forces should seal off the billeting area simultaneously on all sides, and that no alarm should be raised in the I.R.A. camp before the various detachments surrounding it had taken up positions. Hence the approach under cover of darkness and the detrucking of troops well out from the target. Contact between all the component units of the raiding force was not possible; each had to adhere to its timetable, irrespective of what other units were doing or of whether they had in fact taken up their position in the ring. It was precisely this aspect of the plan which broke down, and it broke down because Liam, without any exact information of this impending operation, had acted promptly on an intelligence report on the previous day.

Information which he received from Judy O'Riordan in Buttevant post, indicated the probability of large-scale raiding in the Banteer direction on the night of 9/10th. He had immediately ordered out the Charleville Battalion on a road-cutting task at certain specified points ; this action saved Nadd from being a major disaster. British forces from Buttevant and Ballyvonaire were considerably delayed by trenches on the Buttevant-Mallow road, and at Eel Weir cross, and by broken bridges at Ballyclough and Templemary. An armoured car skidded into one trench. The result was, that when constriction of the British ring began at dawn, one section of the north-western perimeter was still open, some of the Buttevant and Ballyvonaire troops not having arrived. They occupied their positions too late to prevent the escape of most of their intended victims.

Liam was billeted at Patrick McCarthy's, a quarter of a mile north-west of Nadd cross roads. With him were George Power and Maurice Walsh of Mitchelstown. Michael O'Connell, the Assistant Brigade Quartermaster, had left for Lombardstown on the previous night to arrange for the cutting of the road at Eel Weir cross. Tadhg McCarthy, Adjutant of Mallow Battalion, was on duty in the neighbourhood of Nadd cross, with Volunteer Walsh from Ballyclough and two local Volunteers, Dan Scanlon and Dick Dunne. They were the first to observe troops approaching from the South. Visibility was poor, at times bad, as the fog lifted and filled alternately. Tadhg McCarthy and Walsh went immediately to inform Liam and the other brigade officers. They found them already outside the house. Another report of the presence of raiders had reached them.

The Boggera Mountains near Nadd, North Cork, where Republican forces had established a training camp, was the scene of a huge British roundup in 1921.

The British detachment observed at Nadd cross had turned west, evidently with the intention of approaching their objective from the south. Liam now had reports of the presence of troops to the north-east, south and east of his position. Units of the columns in the scattered farm houses were alerted. They and the brigade officers began to move westward across the mountain. At one point a party of British troops infiltrated the position without being observed. Before any warning had reached the house, they came to David Herlihy's. Here, Lieutenant Edward Waters of Mallow Company, Volunteers Timothy Kiely, Joseph Morgan and John Moloney were sleeping. Kiely was a despatch rider of Lombards-town Company, who had come on the previous night with a despatch and stayed. Morgan and Moloney were members of Mallow Com-pany attached to the Mallow Battalion Column.

Moloney, Kiely and Morgan were sleeping in a room off the kitchen on the ground floor. Waters and Herlihy were sleeping upstairs. The arms of Morgan, Moloney and Waters were in the kitchen. The other two were not armed. A section of the Kanturk Column, under Commandant Denis Lyons, had left " the barracks " on the previous day to co-operate with Millstreet Battalion Column in the destruction of Dromagh Castle, which was being prepared for occupa-tion by Auxiliaries. The Castle was burned down on the night of the 9th. Lyons and his party were expected back at " the barracks " On the following morning. When a knock sounded on the door Herlihy, who was up, opened it at once, believing Lyons and his party had returned. British soldiers under an officer stood outside.

They rushed in and overran the house. They hustled the half-dressed occupants into the yard, the officer shouting, " Get out you - we'll give you some of your own stuff now." Covered by the rifles of the raiding party, they were taken to the back of the house and lined up in a field. The officer, having posted his men, said: " When I say run -." Morgan and Moloney made a dash for liberty. Both were wounded, but managed to get away. Waters, Kiely and Herlihy were shot dead where they stood. Bayonets were used on the bodies.

The British were now closing in. Fire was exchanged between some detachments and groups of Volunteers. Liam himself engaged in one of these exchanges. Garrett McAuliffe reported to him on the position in the Inchimay direction. One Volunteer who was not on duty fell a victim to British fire. He was Edward Twomey of Lacklown Company, a cow testing inspector, who was at the time engaged on his civil duties. In running across a field he was shot dead. When Morgan and Moloney escaped from the British firing party at " the barracks " they were pursued, but by availing of cover on the mountain they escaped. They became separated, how-ever, Moloney getting as far as Riordan's farmhouse, Inchimay, before being picked up by four other members of the columns who carried him on to Cahill's, Kilmacrane, about three miles from " the barracks." Morgan fell in with Liam Lynch's party and they went on to Jim Horgan's, Crinaloo, where Liam dressed Morgan's wound, while Morgan gave him a report of what had happened at " the barracks." Liam sent scouts to locate the remaining members of the columns, and, learning that they were at Cahill's, the whole party assembled there. Here Liam dressed Moloney's wound, and arranged to have him sent to hospital. Dr. Ryan of Glantane attended to him.

Reports coming in gave Liam a picture of the extent of the British operation and its results. Four Volunteers were dead, though one of them had not been on duty, two were wounded but . not too seriously, and no one had been captured. For the second time within a month an abnormal and disquieting feature of the British operation impressed him. His enemies were evidently acting on accurate information. There was a striking resemblance between what had happened at Mourne Abbey and what had taken place at Nadd. But now the mystery was quickly cleared up. A member of the Kanturk Column, of whom a number of the men had been suspicious for some time, was missing. He was a man who had served in the British Army, and who had been with the column about two months.

Subsequent inquiries established his responsibility for the Nadd operation, and made it clear that he could also have been responsible for the reverse at Mourne Abbey, as he was in possession of complete information about the proposed ambush several days before it was due to take place. Two days before the Nadd raid the ambush at Father Murphy's Bridge had taken place and he had been ordered to parade for it, but instead of doing so he had gone to Kanturk on the pretext of drawing his pension as a British ex-serviceman. Later it was recalled that in his two month's service with the column he had never taken part in an action, always having one excuse or another for absence. In Kanturk on the 8th, he spent some time drinking, and was later seen in the British barracks in consultation with an officer. The local Battalion Intelligence Officer, Michael Moore, a very competent I.O., becoming aware of this, warned local men and sent a despatch to Brigade Headquarters giving the information. The despatch did not reach Liam Lynch or any member of his staff, and it is not entirely clear what became of it in the excitement created by the raid.