Item of ‘peculiar construction’ discovered

Published in Features, Issue 6 (November/December 2013), Volume 21

Above: The ‘peculiar construction’  discovered in Drumcondra on 13 October 1930. (NAI)

Above: The ‘peculiar construction’
discovered in Drumcondra on 13 October 1930. (NAI)

Jellicoe’s visit on 12 October went ahead on its new schedule, with a heavy Garda presence and no real problems. The next day, however, the story took a strange turn. Responding to a complaint from the public, two Gardaí discovered a post office mailbag at Little Denmark Street, which led them to a yard in Drumcondra. There they came across an item of ‘peculiar construction’: a large wooden box, fitted with chains, bars and locks, bolted to a donkey cart, apparently designed to incarcerate one person. In the words of the investigating detective inspector, the box was ‘constructed in such a manner that a person could be placed in it in a sitting position with the head protruding from a hole which is cut in the top, and if securely fastened there would be little chance of escape’. After some ‘discreet enquiries’, and after the owner of the yard had been ‘put through a severe course of interrogation’, the Gardaí discovered that the IRA had intended to snatch Jellicoe during the planned parade, bundle him into the box, place the mail bag over his head and drive the donkey cart onto the streets. There Jellicoe would be unveiled to the public, with large placards attached to the side of the cart, announcing the presence of ‘Earl Jellyfish’. The objective of the plan was to humiliate both Jellicoe and the Irish government. In a confidential memo for the executive council, 45the Department of Justice noted that the IRA had massed at Amiens Street station and at the Mansion House prior to Jellicoe’s arrival; ‘only for the precautions taken by the police no doubt an attempt would have been made to kidnap Earl Jellicoe’, although the presence of so many Gardaí meant that the plot only ever had a minor chance of success.

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