First among firsts

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Issue 4 (Winter 1997), Letters, Revolutionary Period 1912-23, Volume 5

Sir,—I could not help noticing that in the otherwise excellent articleabout the famous Soloheadbeg (County Tipperary) ambush of January 1919in the spring 1997 issue of History Ireland that Kevin Haddick Flynn(amongst others) is still claiming that this was the first action ofthe War of Independence. Not so. A flag must be raised for the ‘men ofthe mouth of the glen’ who have been all but erased from most accountsof the period. For it was there, near Béala Ghleanna, betweenBallyvourney and Balingeary in West Cork, that seven men from ‘D’Company, successfully ambushed a party of Crown forces (RIC) andcarried away two magazine Lee-Metfor carbines, two slings of .303 withfifty rounds therein, among other gear expropriated on that historicday—8 July 1918, six months before Soloheadbeg. The boys decampednearby at the Fairy Lake where the Fenian Michael Downey lay hiddenduring an earlier phase of the same struggle. The original seveninvolved were: Captain Jonny Lynch (Béala Ghleanna), Tadgh and CíariánTwomey (Turín Dubh), Jer Shea (Ballingeary), Dan McSweeney, JamesMoynihan and Neilus Reilly. All this took place near Rénanirree and thePass of Céiminagh where the noble people of the same townlands put theRedcoats to flight during the Tithe War of the 1830s.
This of course takes nothing at all from the gallant sons ofTipperary and their renowned day of Soloheadbeg, but if only forhistorical exactness alone the men of the mouth of the glen areentitled to their place on the platform for first among firsts.—Yoursetc.,

JER O’LEARY
North Strand
Dublin 3

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