A roadside monument, near Knocknagoshel, unveiled last year to five Free State soldiers killed by the IRA on March 6, 1923, has been vandalised, with the top of the limestone slab being knocked off.
Sinn Féin TD for Kerry North/West Limerick Martin Ferris yesterday condemned the attack as “absolutely disgraceful’’.
The soldiers lost their lives after being lured into a landmine trap. The men who set the mine were, reportedly, sleeping in a dug-out and woke to the sound of the explosion.
In his book, Tans, Terror and Troubles, historian Ryle Dwyer, also an Irish Examiner contributor, wrote: “The Free State troops retaliated with a vengeance, killing no fewer than 19 republication prisoners in Kerry in the next two weeks.’’
A day later, nine republicans were taken from Ballymullen Barracks, Tralee, to Ballyseedy, outside the town, and ordered to stand around a pile of rocks in which a mine had been placed. Eight were killed but, one, Stephen Fuller, was blown clear and survived to tell the story of Ballyseedy, regarded as one of the most savage atrocities of the Civil War.
Paudie Fuller, a son of Stephen Fuller and a former Fianna Fáil councillor, attended the unveiling of the Knocknagoshel monument by Arts and Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan, last November. Mr Deenihan thanked him for his “bravery and generosity’’ in being present.
Mr Ferris, meanwhile, said: “I was saddened to learn that someone would go out and do this, but I imagine the vast majority of people in Kerry would totally condemn this act of vandalism.
“What happened in Kerry over 90 years ago left a lasting legacy of bitterness and people still have very strong feelings, but that is no excuse for this.’’
Gardaí in Listowel are investigating.