Unique project to highlight Midleton's extensive War of Independence history 

Unique project to highlight Midleton's extensive War of Independence history 

Above from left: Tony Harpur, historian in residence, Cork County Council; Sara Nylund,  Abarta Heritage; Damian Shiels, Abarta Heritage and Landscapes of Revolution Project, and Liam Quaide, Green Party councillor, with a draught interpretive panel of the 1920 Midleton Ambush for display in the town. Picture: Denis Minihane

A unique project will be launched soon in a Co Cork town highlighting its extensive War of Independence history and the fact it was the first place in the country to suffer British reprisals as a result of the IRA ambush.

Also, uniquely, Pathé News, recorded the aftermath of the British burning of buildings in Midleton — believed to be the first moving pictures ever taken in the town.

A team of dedicated historians, led by noted archaeologist, Damian Shiels of Abarta Heritage, aided the project.

It has been driven by the Midleton and Ballinacurra Historical Society, whose chairman Tony Harpur was recently appointed Cork County Council's first 'historian in residence'.

“One of the main aims of the 'Landscapes of Revolution Project' is to identify and raise awareness of the surviving landscapes of our revolutionary past and offer communities new ways of conceptualising and interacting with the history and archaeology of the period," Mr Shiels said.

Information boards, designed and illustrated by Sara Nyland, also of Abarta Heritage, are to be erected in the town showing what happened and where, especially in regards to the IRA ambush on December 29, 1920, which resulted in the deaths of three members of the Crown Forces and led to the British reprisals.

A grant was obtained from the county council to support the project after Green Party councillor Liam Quaide told officials it was very important to highlight what happened in Midleton, especially as it sparked the first British retaliation of the conflict.

“This will be a significant marker of Midleton's heritage and would enhance the tourism potential of the town,” Mr Quaide said.

It will have a significant educational value for residents, including schoolchildren, and indeed visitors.

Mr Shiels said the British knew exactly who to target after the ambush on their men, which went to show how good their intelligence was.

They burnt three buildings on the town's Main Street and two 'safe houses' in the nearby countryside.

One of the buildings burnt has been in the ownership of Brian O'Shea's family since 1818 and it is where he has a solicitor's practice.

He pointed out that one of his relatives was involved in the Battle of Clonmult a short time later, which represented the biggest single loss of IRA lives in any military engagement during the War of Independence.

“That's why the building was targeted,” Mr O'Shea said. "The British military gave about an hour's warning to people to evacuate their properties and take valuables with them."

Damian Sheils has told Mr O'Shea it has been said at the time that they threw grenades into his building, which set off the blaze.

“A lot of those killed in the Battle of Clonmult two months later had been involved in the IRA ambush in Midleton,” he added.

More in this section

IE_180_logo
Price info

Subscribe to unlock unlimited digital access.
Cancel anytime.

Terms and conditions apply

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.