Sunday, March 06, 2005

March 6th, 1923 - Ballyseedy Massacre

Late at night on the the 6th of March 1923, nine Republican prisoners - Pat Buckley, John Daly, Pat Hartnett, Michael O'Connell, John O'Connor, George O'Shea, Tim Tuomey, James Walsh and Steven Fuller, were driven to the remote Ballyseedy Wood near Ballyseedy Cross to be executed. As they were being loaded into the lorry, the Free State Army guards asked them if they would care to smoke, telling them it'd be their last cigarette. They were taken to a remote location near the banks of the River Lee, where a large log stretched across the Castleisland Road. The Republicans were all tied to the log alongside a mine which was then detonated. Several of the Republicans, however, survived the initial explosion. The Free State soldiers then proceeded to throw a number of grenades and shoot at them in an attempt to finish them off. This succeeded in killing all except for Steven Fuller who had been thrown by the initial blast into the river, from which he crawled to a nearby IRA hideout in Cnocan.
For more information, see the account about 3/4 of the way down on this page.

Kerry remembers Ballyseedy massacre on 75th anniversary

(published in the April, 1998 edition of Saoirse)

Republicans from all over Ireland travelled to Tureen, outside Tralee, Co. Kerry on March 8 last to mark the 75th Anniversary of the infamous Ballyseedy Massacre of March 6-7 1923.

In one of the most notorious acts of Free State murder, nine captured IRA soldiers were taken out from the Ballymullen Barracks and tied to a mine which was then detonated.

Eight of the nine were fatally injured — Patrick Hartnett, Timothy Twomey, John O’Connor, George O’Shea, James Walsh, Michael O’Connell, John Daly and Patrick Buckley — but Stephen Fuller survived to tell the tale.

The hugely popular 1997 RTÉ documentary Ballyseedy — which was repeated on March 8 to mark the anniversary — showed conclusively that the reprisal murders of IRA prisoners had been authorised as a matter of policy by the Chief-of-Staff of the Free State Army, Richard Mulcahy.

The 75th anniversary ceremonies on March 8 last began with a parade from the Ballyingarry House at 2.30pm to the impressive monument, erected in 1959 beside the Tralee-Dublin road.

The heroic bronze figures of the monument were the work of Breton Sculptor Yann Renard Goulet and the architect was Uinseann Mac Eoin. Yann Goulet was unable to travel to the anniversary ceremonies but his best wishes were conveyed to Tralee by Uinsionn Mac Eoin, who was in attendance.

Several dozen members of Fianna Éireann headed the parade behind a Republican Colour Party and a lone piper. The main oration was delivered by Derry Republican Sinn Féin member Déaglán Ó Donghaile.

During his speech he said: “It is a great honour and a privilege to address the Republican people of Kerry at this hallowed spot where eight Republican soldiers gave their lives for the freedom of Ireland. The sacrifices endured by the people of Kerry for the All Ireland Republic in the bitter period of the Tan and Free State Wars have always been an inspiration to the Republicans of the Six Counties.

“Of all the historic sites in Ireland Ballyseedy stands out in infamy, for it was to this lonely place that nine Republican soldiers were dragged to be murdered by the Free State army. But Ballyseedy is also a place of great heroism, for the bravery of those Volunteers is the bravery that will one day free our country.

“Patrick Buckley, father of five children and a seasoned freedom fighter; John Daly, a fearless Republican and Volunteer for many years; young Michael Connell, only 22 years old but dauntless beyond his years; James Walsh, a natural leader and inspiration to the people of Kerry; George O’Shea, Tim Twomey , Pat Hartnett , John O’Connor and Stephen Fuller, who suffered unspeakable torture at the hand of the Free State terrorists, yet who refused to surrender their comrades and their cause. Only Stephen Fullar would survive the brutal massacre to tell the world of the atrocity.

“In 1922 these brave men could have chosen the easy path of compromise and surrender by accepting the Treaty of Surrender. They could have enjoyed the comfort and wealth which the English rewarded their slaves in the Free State. But they refused.

“Today the British are offering a new Treaty of Surrender to the people of Ireland in the guise of a ‘peace process’. This containment process is aimed at purchasing a section of the Irish people and terrorising the rest of us. By murdering uninvolved nationalists, the Brits plan to consolidate their hold on the Six Counties. Via their agents in the colonial military forces and those in the death squads, whom the British armed with South African Apartheid weapons, the Brits slaughtered 15 people in 1997 and they have butchered another 10 innocents this year.

“Most recently Britain’s death squads have murdered Philip Allen and Damien Trainor in Poyntzpass, Armagh, on Tuesday March 3. By means of outright terrorism the Brits intent to modernise and update Partition and to re-establish the regime at Stormont under Lloyd George’s old threat of ‘immediate and terrible war’.

“Just as the Republicans of Kerry did not hesitate to reject Partition first time round in 1922 we call on the people of Ireland to vote in opposition to the Stormont sell-out and Britain’s second Treaty of Surrender Vote ‘No’ to a New Stormont and British rule under whatever guise in the forthcoming Partitionist referenda.”

“Irish Republicans continue to struggle to restore the Republic for which the Ballyseedy Martyrs died. For this to be achieved the true Republican Movement requires the support and solidarity of all those who profess to follow the revolutionary philosophy of the Ballyseedy Martyrs. Anyone worthy of the title ‘Irish Republican’ will join the people’s movement for the freedom of Ireland. At this critical moment in our country’s history we repeat the words of James Connolly:

“ ‘For our part we are for a narrow platform, a platform so narrow that there will not be a place on it where anyone who is not an uncompromising enemy of tyranny can rest the soles of his feet. And yet broad enough for every honest man.’

“We call on the Republican people of Kerry to join us and achieve in our lifetime the restoration of the All-Ireland Republic for which the Martyrs of Kerry suffered so much and died”.

• Four Special Branchmen boarded the Dublin bus as it was leaving for Kerry on March 8 and harassed the occupants.
One political policeman distinguished himself by asking Fianna boy Eoin Ryan (10) to stand up and then dragged him up from his seat saying “I will take you in under Section 30, you little bastard”. Eoin was badly shaken by the experience.


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