Ceremony marks key ambush in War of Independence
DEFENCE Minister Tony Killeen was among hundreds of people at a ceremony yesterday to commemorate the 90th anniversary of one of the most famous victories in the War of Independence.
The Rineen ambush, which took place on September 22, 1920, was a carefully planned attack carried out by a mid-Clare battalion of the Irish Republican Army at Dromin Hill in the townland of Rineen, about five kilometres from Miltown Malbay in west Clare. The ambush was undertaken to avenge the murder of Martin Devitt, an Irish soldier who was shot dead in an ambush in February of that year.
In what is considered one of the most remarkable encounters of the War of Independence, the mid-Clare Brigade attacked a Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) lorry, killing six officers. Shortly afterwards, the volunteers were attacked by 10 lorries of British army soldiers. However, they held off this attack long enough to flee the scene, with only two soldiers sustaining wounds.
In reprisal, the RIC and British military raided three local villages, killing five civilians and burning 16 houses and shops.
"Events such as these can become lost in the public consciousness and that is why it is so important to have their memory preserved for future generations," Mr Killeen said. "Volunteers such as those who took part in the ambush were instrumental in laying the foundations for the State that we live in today. Despite the ensuing reprisals, local people supported the freedom movement and took pride in the ambush and that recognition continues unabated today," he added.
Volunteer Ignatius O'Neill led the ambush on the day and yesterday his 60-year-old grandson, Joe O'Neill, said: "It is a very special occasion for us. For my family to be remembered in the way they are is very important."