British forces will not be commemorated at Kilmichael Ambush site

Two West Cork historical organisations redeveloping one of Ireland’s best-known War of Independence sites have strongly denied that Auxiliary troops will be commemorated in the new project.

It was reported in recent days that plans to revamp the Kilmichael Ambush monument in Co Cork would include an “Auxiliary acknowledgement area” including the name and ranks of the auxiliaries shot.

Tony McCarthy, a member of the Tony Kennefick Commemoration Committee, had reacted with horror to the plans — describing them as “an affront not just to the people who were at Kilmichael on the day but the people of West Cork”, as the auxiliaries were responsible for “countless killings and burnings” of homes across Cork and brought “little honour to the British army”.

Mr McCarthy has called for a public meeting on the planned redevelopment, which was granted planning permission only last month.

However, Seán Kelleher, secretary of the Kilmichael Historical Society, which along with the Kilmichael and Crossbarry Commemoration Committee is behind the development of the site, has denied that the auxiliaries would be commemorated.

“This is not going to happen,” said Mr Kelleher.

“Our plan is to develop the site adjacent to the monument as at the moment, there is little information about the ambush there. This is a site of national importance that commemorates the fight that was fought against the Auxiliaries.

“The site is crying out for further development. We’ve had American tourists think they’re at Béal na mBláth and that this is where Michael Collins died.

“An architect employed by the West Cork Development Project did suggest that a replica of the 1920 Crossley Tender vehicle be included at the site to reference the British troops but both us and the Kilmichael and Crossbarry Committee met and both said that we would not accept it.

“We can understand people’s upset when we saw a photograph of the Crossley Tender submitted with the plans.”

Mr Kelleher said that aside from new steps, the main part of the West Cork Development Project-funded project is a series of interpretative boards which will explain to the many Irish, British, and US tourists who visit the site each year what happened in the Kilmichael ambush.

“We don’t want to interfere with the nature of the area but we want to explain who was where and what happened.

“We want to explain over the three acres the various stages of the ambush,” he said.

Sixteen auxiliaries were killed at the site on Nov 28, 1920, by a flying column of the Third West Cork Brigade IRA.

They were operating under the command of Commandant Tom Barry. The Kilmichael Ambush is seen as a turning point in the War of Independence.

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