Seefin Ambush - 6 May 1921

1921 May 6. The Dublin to Sligo train was held up at Seefin level crossing between Kilfree Junction and Ballymote at 7.30 pm to raid the mails. A man with a red flag stopped the train.

About 30 to 40 IRA men under Michael J. Marren and Thady McGowan were involved. They had 10/15 rifles plus some other firearms. Half the IRA men were on one side where there was a 125 yard long high bank.

An IRA scout who had got on the train at Kilfree signaled the ambush party if that there were soldiers or police on the train. Marren and McGowan stood on the line and stopped the train. McGowan was armed with a revolver and Marren had a Peter the Painter. Frank Higgins(from Culfadda) and Pa Coleman (from Ballymote) came out behind the train and both groups began to go through the carriages.

There were a number of Auxiliaries on the train, who opened fire on their ambushers. The IRA claim that after a brisk exchange 11 Auxiliaries and 2 police surrendered and arms, ammunition and mail was taken. The County Inspector's report says 5 Auxiliaries returning to Tubbercurry and one Ballymote constable were deprived of their arms. Passengers were said to have had narrow escapes and a calf grazing in a nearby field was killed.

There were no deaths. The Freemans Journal of May 9th reported "It is stated that the Auxiliaries thanked the Republicans on parting for the courteous treatment they received and that the latter expressed a wish to meet them in an open fight soon".

WS918. In May, 1921, Michael J. Marren took charge of a party of I.R.A. men, numbering 43 or 44. Thady McGowan was second-in-command. The party took up positions along both sides of the railway line near Seefin. On one side a bank about 35 feet high, was occupied by some of the Volunteers. A Volunteer scout had been sent to a certain railway station where he was to board a train containing enemy forces travelling in Seefin direction. A train arrived in which Auxiliary and police forces were travelling in the direction of the ambush position. When the train was approaching, the scout gave us the signal that the train contained armed enemy forces. Some of our party got out on the railway line in front of the train with a red flag and signalled to the engine-driver to stop. The train pulled up to a halt, and a few Volunteers took control of the engine. Marren and McGowan boarded the train and went along to the different carriages to get the civilians out. When they came near the carriage where the Auxiliaries were, the latter opened fire on them and both men took up cover between carriages. The Volunteers on the railway bank then opened heavy fire on the carriages occupied by the Auxiliaries. The firing lasted approximately half an hour, and then 11 Auxiliaries with two R.I.C. men surrendered. The party were disarmed and the train was allowed to proceed on its journey. There were. no I.R.A. casualties in this operation

On June 10th , 14th, 23rd, and July 6th there were raids in the area of Kilfree Junction by Crown Forces.

Incidents