Black and Tan burials a bogland mystery

FOLLOWING the kidnapping of two of their colleagues in Tralee on October 31, 1920, the Black and Tans unleashed a reign of terror, in Tralee especially, and other parts of Kerry.

Having been lured into a “honey trap” by two local girls, the kidnapped officers were shot by the IRA. Though their bodies were never found, they are believed to have been buried in the crypt of a local family at Clogherbrien cemetery, outside Tralee.

As there was so many killings on both sides in the ensuing period, it is believed all kidnappings and deaths of Black and Tans may not have been made public and a body could have been taken away for a bogland burial.

Also, as the majority of Black and Tans were British, — sent over by the British Government to augment the hard-pressed police force here — they would not have been as well known to the community as regular RIC men and could “disappear”.

Local man Brendan Cronin claimed it had always been an “established fact” among some people in the locality that a man had been buried in the bog.

“A man long since dead used to tell me that he used to sleep on the grave of a Black and Tan when he got tired after cutting turf,” Mr Cronin recalled.

The story is the subject of a documentary to be broadcast by Maurice O’Keeffe, as part of the Kerry Lore series on Radio Kerry next Sunday at 10pm.

Historian and Irish Examiner columnist Ryle Dwyer said: “It seems logical to ask who this man was and why did they kill him? Was it during the War of Independence, or during the truce between July 1921 and June 1922?”

Author of Tans, Terror and Troubles: Kerry’s Real Fighting Story 1913-1921, Mr Dwyer also said the fact a great many people in an area knew nothing about something did not mean it wasn’t true.

“Something I’ve found over the years is that the people that did most at that time often talked the least, while there was a lot of talk from people that did very little,” he said.

“As regards the credibility of this story, I believe it’s somewhere between very possible and almost probable.”

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