Killaloe Bridge Murders - 17 Nov 1920

1920 Nov 17 . A 13 Arch Bridge connects Killaloe, Co. Clare and Ballina, Co. Tipperary.

Sean Gaynor's memoirs indicate that there was an Auxiliary post with 20 men in Ballina, North Tipp (that may not be true, the Lakeside Hotel was on Ballina side of the river). As well as connecting the two villages, the bridge also connects the two counties of Clare and Tipperary.  In the centre of the bridge is a plaque commemorating four men that were shot here in November 1920 by the RIC and not the ADRIC

Memorial on Killaloe Bridge, with Lakeside hotel in the background

After the attack on Scariff R.I.C. Barracks, the Auxiliaries searched the countryside for suspects. The IRA had a series of safe houses where they could rest and had developed a system of early warnings of possible raids by the authorities. One of the safe houses used was the caretaker’s quarters attached to Williamstown House on the shores of Lough Derg near Whitegate.

On November 16, the Board of Works streamer, The Shannon, sailed into Williamstown Harbour. No particular notice was taken of it, as the harbour was due for dredging. However, there was a force of Auxiliaries hidden below deck and they came ashore and surrounded Williamstown House.

They found three men in hiding in Williamstown House. They were Alfie Rogers and Brud McMahon from Scariff and Martin Gildea from Galway. Micheal Egan from Whitegate was caretaker at Williamstown House and he was also captured. Two others, John and Michael Conway were captured en route and all six were taken by boat to Killaloe. The boat landed at the jetty of the Lakeside Hotel. After questioning in the hotel the Conway brothers were released. The other four were taken to the bridge at Killaloe around midnight where they were shot. A small concrete bunker can now be seen on the Killaloe side of the bridge, as a reminder of this event during the Troubles.

The raid on Williamstown House was on 16th Nov 1920 under JAM Farady of G Coy ADRIC. The shooting was not in fact by the ADRIC, but by the RIC men escorting the prisoners from Lakeside Hotel to the RIC Barracks at Killaloe

An RIC DI, V S Gwynne, from Killaloe, was called to the Lakeside Hotel, to take possession of 4 prisoners. He had 6 RIC constables with him, and they took the 4 prisoners on foot across the bridge to Killaloe. He took the prisoners at 11.45 pm on a dark night. On the bridge, Gwynne says that the prisoners made a concerted effort to escape, that they were called on to halt, and when they did not halt, his men opened fire. Gwynne says about 10 shots in total were fired (of which he fired 2) . All 4 prisoners died immediately

What it boils down to is "Could the police have killed 4 running men on the bridge on a dark night with only 10 shots ? "

1923 Feb 17. A postscript in Nenagh Guardian’s “Killaloe Notes” “During Colonel Andrew’s stay in Killaloe he was known for his barbarity and uncouthness. It will be remembered that is was this officer who captured the four Scarriff boys, who were afterwards done to death on the bridge in Killaloe. There are many in the district who believe that the law officer, in conjunction with DI Gwynne, the Black and Tan stationed in Killaloe, planned the destruction of the four boys. There is evidence of a case in the district where a raid was carried out at the instance of the Colonel and where nothing was found of an incriminating nature. A few days later the son of the house was arrested, and the Colonel in charging him before a military tribunal in Limerick produced soft nose bullets, and stated they were found in the raid on his home. The charge against the prisoner was, however, dismissed.”

Incidents