Kilroe, Co Galway, Ambush - 18 Jan 1921

Eleven Auxiliaries in a Crossley under 3DI T Simmonds were ambushed while driving from Galway to Headford, Co Galway. They were about 4 miles from Headford when the ambush was sprung at Kilroe. 40 to 45 IRA men were hidden behind walls and trees at the wood. The Auxiliaries were hit by gunfire and bombs from both sides of the road.

The radiator of the tender was punctured by a bullet, forcing it to stop. 4 Auxiliaries were badly wounded and 6 more slightly wounded. However the remaining Auxiliaries were able to fire back and force the IRA to retreat. An Auxiliary, Harold Dawkins, who had been wounded, rode off on a horse to get help, the rest waited for a passing truck to carry the wounded off to Galway.

T Simmonds was later awarded the Constabulary Medal o n, 25 May 1921, (PRO, HO 351/73). The commander of the Auxiliary detachment, Section Leader Lieutenant T. Simmonds DSO MC DCM, was awarded the Constabulary Medal for bravery during this ambush. "Although suffering from very painful wounds in the back he organised his defence splendidly, drove off the attackers and then withdrew with all the wounded clear of the wood to a place of vantage, where a defence position was taken up until the arrival of reinforcements."

The D Coy commander in Galway Lt Col Guard started a search for the ambushers, and Guard arrested a man called Thomas Collins at Keelkil. Guard handed the prisoner over to an RIC sergeant Keeney, and when in Keeney's custody the prisoner was shot "trying to escape". The examining RAMC doctor reported 10 bullet wounds to the body

A letter from the Archbishop of Tuam, Dr. Thomas P Gilmartin is read at masses, following an ambush near Kilroe, County Galway. ”The misguided criminals who fired a few shots from behind a wall …..  have broken the truce of God, they have incurred the guilt of murder… and then having fired their few cowardly shots, they beat a hasty retreat, leaving the unprotected and innocent people at the mercy of uniformed forces.”

WS 0875 gives the IRA side by James (Seamus "Bawn") Duggan, 22 Bohermore, Galway. Identity. Second Lieut. Claregalway Coy. 1st Battalion Galway Brigade, I.R.A. 1921.

It was quite usual for the Tans to leave Galway every Tuesday for Headford as it was market day there. It was also decided that Baby Duggan would take charge of the entire operation. After the meeting the volunteers proceeded to Aughclogheen, avoiding the main roads as much as possible. At the above mentioned place they were joined by the Annaghdown Company under the leadership of Tommy Kelly. The weather at this particular time of the year was bitterly cold, causing great hardship on the men concerned. It now was ten O'clock at night and the entire companies retired into an old disused house. We were drenched to the skin and had nothing to eat. We slept on the concrete floor for the night. It was decided to occupy positions on both sides of the road some distance on the Carrundulla side of Kilroe. This particular spot was selected as it was a quiet countryside; also as it was wooded on either side of the road and had a good cover for retreat. At 6.15 a.m. on the morning of 18th January, the party left Aughclogeen and proceeded across country to the spot selected for the ambush. All plans now being complete, the men took up their positions together with two scouts who were stationed some two hundred yards on Carrundulla side of Kilroe. The purpose of those scouts or outposts 3. was that they were to give the alarm of the approaching enemy. We placed ourselves between five and ten yards apart on both sides of the road. It was now 9 o'clock in the morning and as already stated "Baby" Duggan was to lead the attack. Everything was now in readiness bar the shortage of arms as quite a few of the volunteers were very poorly equipped but nevertheless their hearts were strong and brave for any emergency. There were between 40 and 45 men engaged in the attack. Their names and the companies to which they belonged I will give later. I was armed with a rifle and had 7 rounds of ammunition for it. 5 or 6 others also had rifles and about the same amount of ammunition as I had. Most of the others had shot guns with a fair supply of cartridges and a few had revolvers. Michael Newell and Baby Duggan had a few hand grenades each. At 9.40 a.m. a lorry load of Tans and Auxiliaries was sighted bearing fifteen in number together with a machine gun and all modern equipment. The scouts gave the signal, the lorry rounding a sharp curve had to slow down somewhat but, to make matters very awkward for the attackers, a man with a horse and cart arrived on the scene from the Currandulla direction almost in line with the lorry. There was no time to be lost. "Baby" Duggan hurled a bomb point blank at the lorry but missed by inches. The terrified horse bolted from the effects of the explosion. Fearing that the man with the horse might be hit, most of our men refrained from firing for some seconds. This proved a great advantage for the Tans as it gave them sufficient time to dismount and to take cover under the lorry - a most ideal place. A terrific duel lasted for thirty minutes in which eight of the Tans were wounded, some seriously, whilst one of the attackers, namely Charles Quinn, received a 4. rather serious wound to his hand and fingers. As ammunition supplies were now being exhausted the Volunteers were forced to retire. The Tans realising the Volunteers predicament used their machine gun viciously, but fortunately, not one of its bullets found their mark, all the men getting away without a scratch, except the man already mentioned, who was wounded in the early phase of the fight. Having made good their escape the Volunteers eventually turned eastwards towards "Cnoch Maodh" having half-linked, half-carried their wounded comrade who was now growing weak from loss of blood, Paddy Mullins, then a medical student at U.C.G. had rendered first aid. The men themselves exhausted from hunger and exposure were feeling the ordeal. Their next obstacle was to communicate with Dr. Paddy Fallon then dispensary doctor of Turloughmore to dress Charley Quinn's wounds. To myself and Martin Grealish fell this tedious task, who in our efforts failed to locate Doctor Fallon who apparently was gone on a sick call. All arrangements had been made previously to meet the wounded man at the Clare- Galway Castle, but fortunately enough Mrs. Sabina Long of Kiniska having placed her house at Charley Quinn's disposal. There he was put to bed. Also this kind hearted woman gave stimulants and whiskey to help the recovery of the wounded volunteer. I having gone on my second errand to Twomileditch with a despatch for Dr. Fallon who was visiting some relatives on his way out from Galway City, the doctor arrived at Mrs. Long's on the early morning of January 19th where Charley Quinn finally received professional medical attention. It was not considered safe to keep him in one place for long as the Tans were scouring the district for wounded men, and that same evening he was removed to Michael Murphy's in Gortaclera where he remained for about two weeks. It 5. happened, however, that Dr. Michael O'Malley was attending a patient nearby. A few of the Volunteers made arrangements with him to have the wounded man removed secretly to his private nursing home. It was quite customary for the Doctor to be attending patients in various parts of the country and finally he got him removed to his nursing home without arousing the slightest suspicion. All went well for nine days until the British authorities got information as to his whereabouts which led to the home being raided and with much difficulty, Charlie Quinn made his escape through a back window with the assistance of members of the staff. That same night he was assisted to a County Council van in Shantallo where he remained for two nights. Two of the local Volunteers very courageously then had him secretly conveyed in a pony and trap to the dugout in Creggboy, Claregalway, where he remained until the truce of July of the same year. The names of the Volunteers and Companies taking part in the ambush are as follows:- Claregalway Company: Martin Grealish (Captain) William Coady (Myself) Séamus "Bawn" Duggan John Lynskey John Lally Thomas Fox Martin Fahy (deceased) Charlie Quinn Nicholas Murphy (deceased) John Egan Pat Feeney Seán Vaughan 6. Castlegar Company: Thomas "Baby" Duggan (in Command - deceased) Michael Newell Bryan Molloy Pat Broderick Tom Mullroyan John Mullroyan (deceased) Dan Fallon Paddy Mullins (deceased) Martin Skerritt Thomas Carr Patrick Giles Michael Broderick Creggmore Company: Michael Conway (Captain) Pat Forde John Grealish John Conway Patrick McGrath (deceased) Annaghdown Company: Thomas Kelly (Captain) John Melia Malachy Healy (deceased) Thomas Cunningham John Cunningham Patrick O'Brien Michael Monaghan (deceased) Martin Skerritt (deceased) Michael Hession Patrick O'Neill Martin Moylan (deceased) Michael Fahy Signed James Duggan