On 1 June 1921, at the height of Ireland’s War of Independence, a cycling patrol of members of the RIC was ambushed by members of the IRA at Ballymacandy, between Milltown and Castlemaine in County Kerry. After an hour of fighting, four police officers lay dead and another died a day later, among them a father of nine children.
The group of IRA assailants included some of the most high-profile figures in Ireland’s ‘Tan War’, men like Dan Keating, Jack Flynn, Dan Mulvihill, Billy Myles and Johnny Connor, but also lesser-known figures, including members of the local Cumann na mBan. Their actions were condemned from the pulpit and an official enquiry tried to discredit the local doctor who tended to the dying men.
This book comes on the centenary of an ambush that continues to resonate in its community and in a county in which the battle with Crown forces was more virulent and violent than most. Drawing on newly published witness statements and previously unpublished official records, Ballymacandy details what happened the five men who died and those who led the attack against them and sets the incident against the backdrop of the wider revolutionary struggle in the county.
The ‘Tan War’ in Kerry
Milltown in 1921
The IRA in mid-Kerry
Lying in wait
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Owen O’Shea, from Milltown, Co. Kerry, is a historian and author of several books on history and politics in his native county. A former press adviser to the Labour Party and a journalist for many years, he is the author of Heirs to the Kingdom: Kerry’s Political Dynasties (2011) and co-author of A Century of Politics in the Kingdom: A County Kerry Compendium (Merrion Press, 2018). He was co-editor of a history of Kerry and the Easter Rising in 2016. O’Shea currently works as Media, Communications and Customer Relations Officer with Kerry County Council and is an Irish Research Council-funded PhD student at University College Dublin, researching electioneering and politics in Kerry in the decade after the Civil War.
Praise for Ballymacandy: The Story of a Kerry Ambush
‘This is local history at its best: clearly written and cliché free, painstakingly researched, a useful index, a really clear map, interesting photos and placing the ambush in the context of Irish history at the time and its aftermath.’
John Kirkaldy, Books Ireland
‘Colourful details help to lift Owen O’Shea’s reconstruction of the Ballymacandy gunfight well above your average local history … O’Shea does a fine job of uncovering the story’s lesser-known tangents … Meticulously researched and soberly written.’
Andrew Lynch, Sunday Business Post
‘The central strength of Owen O’Shea new book on the Ballymacandy ambush of June 1921 [is] a desire to understand the past rather than show which side you are on…O’Shea’s prose is never lost in maudlin sentimentality but rather clearly driven by a desire to tell the story of the ambush and its aftermath from every side.’
Thomas Earls Fitzgerald, The Irish Story
‘A bloody Tan War tale which humanises friend and foe alike … an enlightening contribution’ Roy Greenslade, Andersonstown News