History of the E. Company Inchigeela from 1917 to the end of the Civil War.
(Our thanks to Mary Lynch (nee O'Connell) for poviding us with the following article).
This Company (Coy.) was formed in the early part of 1917. Prior to this a very strong branch of Sinn Fein was working in Inchigeela. From this branch sprang the Volunteers. Our first bit of excitement was when the Sinn Fein flag was flown from the western chimney of the Lake Hotel.
The Local R.I.C. took this very bad. The flag was flying for most of a week as the R.I.C. were afraid to climb that height. Matt Kelleher who feared no height was the man who climbed the ladders to this chimney top. His helpers were Jerh Riordan (Yank) whose laugh often made this flag ripple, Jack Manning and Danno Reilly.
The Company Officer in Command (Coy. O.C.) was Denis Quinlan whose age at this time was around 20 years, was a College educated man, stood six foot one and was a fearless leader. Under his command the Company expanded rapidly and carried out their first activities. These activities consisted of often drilling, collecting arms and opposing conscription. The Company had several trial mobilisations. At this time the Coy was attached to the 7th. Batt. Macroom. The Batt. Commandant was Dan Corkery Macroom. President De Valera reviewed troops of the 7th. Batt in Macroom in the fall of 1917, in which all the men of E Coy. took part.
Pikes from spring steel were now made in Jack Mannings forge and men of this Coy. spent many a night sledging them out, and 'we forged some steel for Ireland' said Paud O'Donohue. Home made bombs were made from tin boxes, cement and scrap iron. When filled with Dynamite these were very effective. The Coy. O.C. - D. Quinlan and a section of men took part in a daring raid on Shorten House in the Coppeen area. A Grand Hammeless shot gun, a 3.8 revolver, ammunition for both, a large amount of powder and some dynamite was secured.
A few nights later in May 1918 this Coy. made an unsuccessful raid on Norrishe's House near Coppeen. This man refused to open the door and hand over the shot gun. The Coy. O.C. watched him load and cock his gun through the key hole. It was now a case of who would shoot first. The Coy. O.C. had a consultation with his men and they decided that this shot gun was not worth a life. The men who took part in the above were D. Quinlan, T. O'Connell, D.J. Leary, Jack Kelleher, Jack Manning, Jim O'Connell, Jerh Twohig and M. O'Sullivan. On that night the O.C. did not return to Inchigeela. He stayed with some friends near Teralton and the following day went to attend a 7th Batt. meeting in Macroom. He was carrying his revolver and on his way home that evening he was accidentally shot. This caused a severe shock to his Company and more especially to the men who did duty with him on the previous night. Even at this early date this daring man had already made plans in his own Coy. for the capturing of the Local R.I.C. Barracks
The 7th Batt. gave him a glorious Military Funeral from Macroom to Newestown Cemetery.
A week later Jerh Twohig was elected Coy. O. C. A vigorous Boycott was now carried out against the R.I.C. and after the Mouth of the Glen Ambush, Martial Law was proclaimed in this and other Coy. areas. British Military occupied the Glebe House Inchigeela. Their estimated strength was about 80 strong. This house was one time owned by the late Protestant Minister and stood alone in open grounds and therefore was a very safe outpost for the enemy. The enemy was very active in the district now. The following houses were searched for men and arms - Jerh Twohig, T O'Connell, M. Vaughan, D.T. O'Leary, Will Murphy, and M. O'Sullivan. Those men were on the run but nothing was found.
The Glebe House outpost were daily sending out patrols, sometimes towards Macroom, at other times to Ballingeary. Four men of this Coy. planned to attack the two men of the Rear Guard of this patrol. On this evening the two Rear Guardsmen were close up to the main body and for that day our plans fell through. At this time a civilian who was on friendly terms with the military made a deal to buy two Rifles. These Rifles were to be delivered to him after dark at the Weir Cross. Four men were told off to watch the enemy movements and if everything went right to secure the Rifles. The next thing that happened was the patrol came on and lay in ambush. Our men got wise to the move and were able to slip quietly away.
To the delight of the E Coy. The British Troops evacuated the Glebe House at the end of 1918 and the Coy. Area was again in charge of the R.I.C. who were now finding it difficult to maintain law and order. Owing to a temporary break down in health Jerh Twohig, the Coy. O.C. was forced to resign. He went to a Cork hospital and later went to work in the City where again he became an active Volunteer and had a distinguished Record through the Tan and Civil wars.
In the early months of 1920 R.I.C. Barracks attacks were the order of the day. The 8th Batt. now planned an attack on the Inchigeela Barracks which took place on January 3rd. 1920. This attack was to start at 8.30pm. All men were to be in their positions by that time. A week before 6 men of this Coy. were told off to watch the movements of the R.I.C. and close up scouting of the building had to be carried out.
The plan was like this:
The Batt. Commandant P. O'Sullivan was in charge of this attack. A number of picked men from Coolea, Ballyvourney, and Kilnamartyra Companys were met at the Weir Cross by guides from this Coy. They crossed the Weir and moved westwards by the River Lee. A section of these men took up positions behind the fence which was 20 yards in front of the Barrack, while 4 men were to take up positions at the gate and 2 men were to throw petrol on the door by throwing a lighting cloth, and set it on fire. When the door burned down the 4 men at the gate were to rush through and enter the building while the section behind the fence covered them with rapid fire. Another section, some of them Ballingeary men, who had taken up positions at the back or west of the Building were to do likewise. Another section of men took up positions in the village, and a strong barricade was erected and guarded at the Weir Cross.
As the 4 men were silently moving from the South towards the gate where an R.I.C. man was now standing peeping over the pillar. It was 10 minutes before the opening time set for the attack, but the R.I.C. man and the I.R.A. opened fire simultaneously and the fight was on. The R.I.C. man escaping into the Barrack, the windows which were steel shuttered were now ringing with rifle and shot gun fire. While the R.I.C. flung hand grenades in all directions, and fired their pistols in the air in an effort to attract reinforcements, the I.R.A. now cut off all communications from Inchigeela. One R.I.C. who was in a local Pub and who tried to reach the Barracks during the attack was fired on and badly wounded. The hand grenades prevented the I.R.A. setting fire to the door. Their ammunitions were running low. The attack which had now lasted almost 3 hours was called off at 11.00pm. The I.R.A. suffering no casualty.
At this time R.I.C. were also in occupation of Ballingeary Barracks and a section of the Coy. erected and guarded a barricade two miles west of Inchigeela near to O'Connells Cottage. The M.O. Dr. Good who was visiting a patient was held up at this Road Block when returning home to Raleigh. He was taken into the cottage where old Mrs. Connell made him at home with a good hot cup of tea. He enquired "What the Devil is all this about" and was told by his guard from the cottage door "You may be wanted before the night is over". About 3.00am. he was left pass through in his old Model T. Ford. A few days later the Cork Examiner published a long story of the Doctor's ordeal.
Another funny incident took place while this attack was on. An old man by the name of Jim Brien, who was on the spree, came singing into the firing line, in front of the Barrack and after each volley used to shout "Fire again". There was a short cease-fire by both sides and Jim returned again to the pub. The following men took part in the above attack: Con Cronin, T. O'Connell, D. T. O'Leary, Denis S. Murphy, Jim Connell, Jack Kelleher, Syl J. B. Cotter, Mick Vaughan and M. O'Sullivan. While 12 more of the Coy were scouting.
The Inchigeela R.I.C. were now reinforced by 7 more men and a wireless receiver and transmitter was installed. Both gables of the building were doubly loop-holed and barbed wire entanglement erected. After the above attack the R.I.C. made several raids on I.R.A. men's houses and the following men were constantly on the run: Con Cronin, T. O'Connell, D.T. O'Leary and M. O'Sullivan. The R.I.C. were now compelled to stay within Barracks from dusk until dawn.
The next attack on Inchigeela Barracks was planned for March 8th. 1920. This was planned by the Officers of the first Cork Brigade who brought with them a large trough packed with explosives. This was to be placed against one of the gables, and it was electrically detonated, owing to barbed wire and tin cans. They were unable to reach the gable. Had this plan succeeded 6 or 8 picked men from the Battalion were to rush trough the breach using revolvers and hand grenades. The usual precautions of blocking and guarding the roads were taken. A large number of men from the 8th Battalion mobilised at Cooleen, 3 miles north-west of Inchigeela. Here they were met by men from the E. Coy. and led into their positions, where they waited for hours on snow covered ground. The greatest credit is due to those men who had to travel 10 - 12 miles back to their Coy. areas, and shoulder this heavy trough back to Kilnamartyra.