Thomas Enright


Odd man out here. He was a Barrack Defence Sgt, who had to re-enlist with ADRIC, but never actually served with ADRIC, staying a Barrack Defence Sgt

1890 Jan 9.. Born Kerry

1901 census at Bedford, Listowel, Kerry. His father Jeremiah, is a farmer. There are 5 sisters and 2 brothers and his mother Catherine. He is not at home with the family in 1911 census

1907 Oct 17. Enlisted in Royal Munster Fusiliers at Tralee. His home is given as Bedford, Listowel

1907 Nov 16 Discharged from RMF "Having made a mis-statement of his age" . On his Canadian enlistment he claims 1 year with RMF

1910 According to his census return, the date of his arrival in Canada

1911 census He is a boarder in 211 St Jos St, Quebec, Canada. Worked on Canadian Pacific Railway

1915 Mar 8. Enlisted Canadian Expeditionary Force at Vancouver Next of kin Jer Enright. Listowel, County Kerry,

1917 Feb 14. Commissioned to be temp. Lt - Canadian Infantry.. 75371 Sgt T Enright

1917 Aug 21. Seriously wounded during trench fighting when the Canadians launched an attack on Hill 70, near Lens, in France. He was invalided back to Canada and spent the remainder of the war recovering in a TB Sanatorium in Balfour, near Vancouver. The Balfour Sanatorium was previously the Canadian Pacific Railway's Kootenay Park Hotel in Balfour, British Columbia.

1918 Aug 12. Nelson, BC, Canada. He met and married a nurse, Mary White, who was also from Bedford, Listowel.

1919 Jul 27. He returned to Ireland with his wife Mary

1920 Apr 22. Joined the RIC and was posted to Thurles.

1920 Aug 9. Resigned from RIC and he became a Barracks Defence sergeant.

1920 Aug 6 . Joined ADRIC with service no 147. Barrack Defence Sergeants were absorbed into the ADRIC at this time. Enright's ADRIC entry has no further details. It looks as if he carried on as an RIC Sgt in Thurles and never actually joined the ADRIC. The ADRIC Register has "Roscrea" beside his name

1921 Jan 1. Promoted Sgt in RIC. He must have been very active as he received 3 Class 3 Favourable Reports , 1 on the 6/6/1921, and 2 on the 20/8/1921.

1921 Mar 10. Witness Statement 1454 . Five masked and armed policemen raided the house of Larry Hickey, publican, Main St., Thurles, when they found the owner in bed. He was ordered out in his night attire and when he reached the head of the stairs he was tripped and thrown downstairs by an R.I.C. man named Jackson. In the fall, Hickey's neck was broken and he was in great pain at the foot of the stairs when Sergeant Enright, who was in charge of the raiders, shot him dead. to put an end to his agony. Hickey was a well known republican in Thurles, and a detailed account of his shooting was given to me during the Truce period by Sergeant Enright himself.

1921 May Witness Statement 1454 the Thurles R.I.C. tried out a now deception In the hope of being able to inflict damaging losses on the I.R.A. Parties or police, attired in I.R.A. fashion and numbering about 20 men, went at night time on foot into the districts of Horse and Jockey, Littleton and Moycarkey, These parties were always led by the notorious Sgt. Enright, a North Kerryman and an ex-Canadian soldier. His accent did not require a great deal of changing to make it rather similar to that of the Tipperary people. A favourite dodge of his was to knock at a house owned by people of republican sympathies and pretend to the owner or his family that it was "Leahy and the bays" who were outside and that they were looking for some "wanted" I.R.A. men. These tricks never worked, as the civilian population was too wary to disclose anything they knew until they were very sure of those to whom they were speaking.. After about four abortive. attempts the police got wise to themselves and abandoned the idea entirely.

1921 May. Witness Statement 1454 Sergeant Enright then figured in another form of activity. About once or twice a week he led about a dozen policemen on patrol from Thurles into the country, varying the itinerary each time. Mick Small made en effort to engage this patrol on the Mall road, half a mile from the town. With a force of 25 men he waited there for about five hours but without result, as the patrol did not come out, In or about the same fortnight two more efforts made by Small to engage the police were also unsuccessful.

1921 Dec 9. A train carrying IRA men home from internment under the truce was attacked near Thurles. Certainly the IRA believed Enright was the man responsible.

Witness Statement 1100 :- Sometime about the second week in December 1921, a bomb was thrown at a passenger train just as it was about to enter the railway station in Thurles. The train was carrying a number of released political prisoners who were on their way home from various prisons and internment camps. One such released prisoner named Declan Horton as killed by the bomb. Sean Fitzpatrick and I went to Thurles to investigate the matter. Our information was that the bomb had been thrown by a Sergeant Enright of the R.I.C. and that it had been thrown from the bridge over the railway near Thurles Station......I have an idea that Sergeant Enright was shot dead at a coursing match which he attended somewhere in North Tipperary within a few weeks of the bombing incident at Thurles Railway Station.

Witness Statement 952 The camp went on until our release which was on the 10th December, 1921. Our trains were attacked by hooligans with stones. One train was fired on. The train on which I was travelling stopped at Thurles. An R.I.C. man named Enright threw a bomb at the carriage next to mine mortally wounding a Cork Volunteer. This R.I.C. man was shot down soon afterwards in Ballybunion.

1921 Dec 16. Thomas Enright was shot dead in Kilmallock. The Inquest report in full concurs with the newspaper reports

The Irish Times reported "A shocking outrage was committed at Kilmallock, Co Limerick, on Wednesday evening, when Sergeant Enright, of the Royal Irish Constabulary, Thurles, was shot dead, and Constable Timoney was wounded. The sergeant and the constable travelled to Kilmallock on Tuesday in order to attend a coursing meeting, at which the former had entered two dogs. They wore plain clothes. On Wednesday night they visited the hotel where the draw was made for the following day's coursing. They left the establishment shortly after 11 o'clock, and as soon as they appeared on the street a volley of revolver shots was fired at them by a group of men, who were standing near the post-office. The shots were fired at close range, and Sergeant Enright was killed instantaneously. Constable Timoney received no fewer than five wounds, but it is hoped that they will not prove fatal. "

Enright went to a coursing meeting in Kilmallock with his dogs. One of them, ‘Bedford Lass', was entered under the name of his brother-in-law, Patrick White. After the race Enright and his colleague, Constable Edward Timoney from Tyrone, went to Clery's hotel for the next day's draw.

In Memoirs of a Freedom Fighter, Maurice Meade tells recalls an incident.‘On the previous day there was a Black and Tan named Enright who had a dog running there. This man was the brother of Enright, the RIC man who was killed at Knocklong [note, a Constable Michael Enright was killed at Knocklong, Co Limerick on 13 May 1919 but Ml Enright, R.I.C. 62005, killed at Knocklong on the 13/5/1919, was born on 20/10/1883 in Lickadoon, Co. Limerick the son of a school teacher and is not the brother of Thomas.] , and he was particularly active and bitter against our men, on one occasion bombing some of our captured men. For this we decided he should pay the death penalty. No opportunity to carry this out had arisen until the Truce occurred, but when we saw him at the coursing meeting, even though the Truce was then in operation, we agreed to shoot him and we did so that night.'

Newspaper reports indicate that shortly after 10.30 p.m., the two RIC men left the hotel and were fired at from behind by a party of eight or nine civilians near the Post Office. The Sergeant was shot dead and the Constable seriously wounded.

1921 Dec 18. His body was taken by train from Limerick back to his native Listowel.

2005 A novel was published which appears to be based on Thomas Enright

The author, Mark O'Sullivan, lives in Thurles, Co. Tipperary. His novel Enright, follows the experience of a traumatized and violent RIC Sergeant, Tom Enright. The publishers blurb says "It is 1921, and the Irish War of Independence is drawing to a close. In a small Tipperary town, RIC Sergeant, Tom Enright fights the rebels - and his own demons. Traumatised at an early age, Enright is destined to constantly re-enact the roles of hunter and hunted. In closely interwoven storylines, he relives his years at sea, the battles at the Somme, lying among the living dead in a British Columbian sanatorium and subsisting on a Canadian Army Land Grant farm before moving back to Ireland. Mark O'Sullivan's gripping novel is as forceful as the character of Enright himself. The story hovers between the real and the imagined, between tenderness and violence, between myth and memory. Enright's voice haunts, revolts, sometimes amuses, and ultimately reveals the secret of survival - defiant tenacity.

I have received help in the compilation of parts of this article from Donal McMahon, his grandson.