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MEELICK AMBUSH

On the 15th of June 1921 John Mc Cormack Captain of A Company – Clonlara East Clare Brigade IRA, led thirteen IRA Volunteers from the Brigades 2nd Battalion in an operation to raid the mails on the Limerick to Ennis train.IRA wanted to fine out who was giving information to the RIC During one raid the IRA found a letter adressed to John O Reilly , Newmarket-on-Fergus from the R.I.C. Reilly whowas already suspected of spying was abducted by the I.R.A. he was found guilty and was executed for being a spy.on the day of the attack tthe IRA volunteers build a barricade out stones and was built across the railway line as a barrier to stop the train. This barrier was marked with a red flag to make it visible to the driver who would be forced to stop. I.R.A. Volunteer Patsy Cherry had boarded the mid day train to Ennis train at the Long Pavement station in Limerick. he was on the train to warn the IRA volunteers if they were any british soldiers on the train by waving his hat from one of the carriage windows. All of the volunteers were armed with either rifles or shotguns.The train approached the barricade just after mid-day, Patsy Cherry failed to give the all clear signal to the volunteers warning them the train was full of british soldiers was a large detachment of 2nd Battalion Royal Scots on board.As the train passed Mc Cormac noticed a British soldier with his head outside the window, and fired a shot at him. British soldiers on board had not been aware of the I.R.A.’s plans to stop and raid they train when they did and the train stopped at Cratloe station the British soldiers forced the other passengers off the train, their commanding officer then boarded the engine and ordered the crew to reverse the train back along the track to Burton Hill. As the train approached the bend where the I.R.A. were, the driver Sullivan repeatedly blew the steam whistle to warn the republicans that the British soldiers were returning, until an officer with the Royal Scots drew his revolver and threatened to “blow his brains out”. The IRA were unaware that the soldiers were on there way back John Mc Cormack decided to cut the telegraph wires on the northern side of the railway track, to prevent the British soldiers reporting the I.R.A.’s presence when they reached Cratloe Station.John Mc Cormack
fetched a hedge cutters from Michael Collin’s house, nearby on the northern side of the railway line and climbed the telegraph pole and began cutting the wires. Unfortunally the hedge cutters broke, then john shouted to James O Halloran to go to Goggins house on the southern side of the track and find another cutting impliment
According to Mc Cormac:

“O Halloran was just about to enter the back door of Goggins’ which was was 40 yards or so away, when I noticed the train reversing from Cratloe. I shouted to the men to disperse, jumped off the pole myself, ran across the railway line and flung myself over a wall along which I ran until I got over a hawthorn hedge that provided me with cover from view until I got clear of the enemy. When James O Halloran heard my shout to disperse, he saw the threat coming from the enemy in the reversing train and, with his Martini Henry rifle, opened fire on the military. I believe it was his action saved my life as his shooting attracted the attention of the soldiers in his direction and thus enabled me to get away.”When the soldiers halted the train and dismounted firing their rifles and machine guns at the I.R.A. Mc Cormac, O Halloran and most of the I.R.A. Volunteers the others dispersed across the level fields to the south. However Gleeson and Mc Carthy retreated northwards uphill towards Collins’ house. Mc Carthy was mortally wounded by one of the opening volleys of British gun fire and fell to the ground unable to continue. Gleeson returned to rescue him. The British soldiers began advancing up the hillside from the railway track. Gleeson opened fire on the soldiers and attempted to drag Mc Carthy to safety. The pair were surrounded and captured after they ran out of ammunition. By this time Gleeson was already dead. After capturing Mc Carthy the soldiers of the Royal Scots killed him by cutting his throat, and shooting him a number of times at point blank range.the two volunteers Gleeson and Mc Carthy were buried in the republican plot in Meelick churchyard .

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