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A Galway man was Ireland’s loneliest martyr

Wednesday, 28th October, 2020 7:36am
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A Galway man was Ireland’s loneliest martyr

PRIVATE James Daly in the uniform of the British Army in India. He is wearing his World War I medal ribbons.

A Galway man was Ireland’s loneliest martyr

PRIVATE James Daly in the uniform of the British Army in India. He is wearing his World War I medal ribbons.

By Mary Burke


IN November 1920, the residents of Tuam and its hinterland were attempting to go about their daily lives as best they could. It was a particularly violent month in Galway city and county with the killing by Crown Forces of Michael Moran of Tuam, Eileen Quinn, Gort, the Loughnane brothers of Shanaglish and Fr Michael Griffin in Barna.

The War of Independence in north Galway had already impacted in Tuam four months earlier with the shooting dead of RIC Constables Burke and Carey at Gallagh and the subsequent burning of the town in reprisal.

Mrs Johanna Carey, mother of Constable Patrick Carey, travelled from Skibbereen with her children to the Quarter Sessions in Galway the first week of November for the hearing of her compensation application.

Mrs Carey was a widow with a small farm. Her husband Jeremiah had died in 1916 and her daughter Kathleen, a young nun in the Convent of Mercy, Galway, had died of pneumonia in October 1918. Mrs Carey’s claim was unopposed and she received £1,500 for the death of her son. The family of James Burke from Birr were awarded £1,850.

An embargo on the transportation of government forces and munitions implemented by railway workers in May was having an effect on business in in the towns and the villages of the area. Postal and daily paper deliveries were delayed, passenger services had ceased although goods trains were allowed to travel on some lines.

Cattle, sheep and pig sales had fewer buyers. This resulted in a worrying loss of revenue for farmers and businesses in the locality. The arrival of the Black and Tans in the autumn of 1920 brought added uncertainty and fear to the local population. The 6th Dragoon Guards were billeted at Tuam Workhouse so the Black and Tans were despatched to Annagh House, Ballyglunin which was in the process of being sold by the executors of Miss Bodkin.

There was an immediate escalation of tension between crown forces and local civilians. The Tuam Herald was reporting regular incidences of night raids and beatings, mainly of young men, throughout the district.

Hugh Roddy from Bishop Street had resigned in protest from the RIC after events in the town in July. He was taken from his home along with railway Head Porter Tommy Owens from Parkmore, and brought out the Athenry Road where both were severely beaten and told to make their way back to town.

Read the full feature in this week's edition of The Tuam Herald

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