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The Falahee House

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Michael Falahee

 

                             THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE

‘’MICHAEL FALAHEE’’ Ballyguiry and late of New York.

(By Paul Markham) 

Michael Falahee who belonged to one of the oldest families in Clare was widely respected and esteemed throughout and beyond the County. He typified everything that makes a good Irish man - a devout Catholic, a zealous worker and a priceless friend. Descended from a family with strong national traditions, he faithfully upheld the flag of his progenitors and in the days of the struggle for Irish Independence showed that he could not be cowed when he was ill-treated for active participation in the national movement.

The response in the area to the call of Patriotism was generous. In the locality there were four companies of volunteers. Cranny, Coolmeen, Kildysart and Labasheeda combined the 1st Battalion of the West Clare Brigade under Paddy Clancy of Derryguiha. Michael Falahee became Vice –Commandant of this Battalion. Brigadier Frank Barrett commanded the Mid Clare Brigade and East Clare was under Brigadier Michael Brennan. The Cranny company was formed in 1914 and was one of the first in the County and perhaps in the Country.  This was due in no small way to Peadar Clancy who availed of every opportunity to drill them when home on visits.  Clancy was a patriot and Irish Volunteer (executed 1920). Albert (Sonny) Donnelly, Mick Kennedy, Patrick McMahon and Michael Breen were Captains of the Cranny, Coolmeen, Kildysart and Labasheeda companies respectively. Michael Falahee was attached to Cranny First Battalion. 

In April 1919, acting on instructions, the evacuated RIC station at a Labasheeda was burned.  The East Clare flying column under Michael Brennan paid a trip to West Clare in 1919. Crossing the river Fergus they landed near Kildysart where they were billeted.  An ambush was laid for a party of RIC next day near Cahircon, but they didn’t pass. Later they traveled to Kilrush having been joined by men from the local companies, to attack the military and police there.

In April 1920 the evacuated RIC barracks at Knock, Kilmurry McMahon and the adjoining courthouse and dispensary was burned to the ground by a large party of armed and disguised men.

On Sunday July 30th 1922 Kilmore House the twenty four roomed mansion in which the Gore-Hickman family lived was burned  down. Prior to this Volunteer Patrick Hassett of Burrane was shot by the accidental discharge of a comrades gun on the grounds of  the  W.F. Gore Hickman estate. Hassett died five days later in Limerick hospital.

In June 1920 at Tulllycrine four Volunteers Frank O’Donnell, Paddy Clancy, Bill Shannon and Thomas Marrinan were involved in halting a van load of armed police. One of the volunteers fired a shot and the four immediately took refuge in the ‘Grove’ a place not far from Murtie Brownes, the column had been acting on instructions to carry out an execution of an RIC detective, but on the day had mistaken vehicles.

Other activity in the region included a planned ambush at Burrane (Killimer parish). Here in August 1920 a horse drawn truck load of Black and Tans surrendered to the Volunteers. The horses were seized and the truck was burned. The soldiers however were released unharmed.

On September 14, 1920 the Flying Column assembled at Drumdigus, Kilmurry McMahon for a prearranged ambush of British Military. A pit was dug between Haughs’ and Fergusons’ homes. The main body of the Column, armed with shotguns, revolvers and hand grenades, occupied an elevated position on the east side of the road (Dan Haugh’s property). William Shanahan of Doonbeg  and Lieut. Paddy Hassett from Cooraclare (later Col. Hassett), both riflemen and two I.R.A. men. Paddy Haugh and Joe Kelly, armed with hand grenades, were assigned to a position on the west side of the road. The Millitary, traveling south and arriving earlier than anticipated, were alerted to danger when they observed two I.R.A. signalmen running to their positions. They instantly halted their lorry (two hundred yards from the ambush site) directing fire on the signalmen and began a circular movement.  Willie Shanahan quickly realized the danger awaiting his comrades armed with shotguns. He and his partner, P. Hassett, immediately opened rapid fire and kept the enemy under cover long enough to allow the main body of the Column to make a safe withdrawal. He and his partners then escaped and rejoined the Column Mobilization Headquarters in Tullycrine (Simon O’Donnell’s) 

Stories narrated by parishioners to the present day inform us that O’Donnells’ farm dog used to bark aloud when the Black and Tans lorries were approaching. This dog was later shot dead during the ambush of October 6th 1922. Large boulders were put in place by the locals on the Cranny – Kilmurry road in the townland of Drumdigus, these boulders massive in weight can be viewed to the present day and are near the original site. Later that day the Tans knocked 126 trams of hay belonging to Simon O’Donnell. Dan Dillon’s late father while making hay in Tullycrine was shot at by the Black and Tans a bullet missed him by inches and lodged in a nearby tree.

Master John Brennan of Tullycrine Schoolhouse was awakened by the Black and Tans at 3am from his bed one morning, he was ordered to fill in a pit which had been dug on the road near the school by the locals. Mr Brennan was shown a shovel and a gun side by side outside the school wall, the quick thinking master asked the Tans to ‘pass the shovel’

Large trees by the roadside at Bridge Park House were cut down and let fall across the thoroughfare to hinder the occupying forces. It is also recalled that as many as two hundred people walked from Kilrush to Knockerra when Tom Howard of Derrynalicka was released in Kilrush after spending a term in Mountjoy prison .   In defiance of the  Tans the locals paraded with lighted sods held on hay forks.

The Haugh homestead in Coolmeen was raided by the Black and Tans in June 1921. They burned a set of football jerseys.

1920 and 1921 saw most of the arrests and a great number of releases were made after the treaty was signed in December 1921. One of the many arrested and released was Michael Falahee.

Fr. Patrick Hayes was curate of Kilmurry McMahon from 1915 to 1928 his residence was in Labasheda village .”In the dark and troubled days his counsel saved the entire district from the untold misery and kept ever the shadow of crime from his fold”. It is remembered with feeling of pride the fearless and lion hearted way he faced Auxiliaries and Black and Tans and protected his people from their savagery.

At this point  I must give mention to the late Art O’Donnell a man who has left lasting memory in the minds of those who were privileged to know him.  Art born in 1890 was educated at Tullycrine N.S. Cooraclare N.S. and trained as a teacher at St. Patrick’s Drumcondra, Dublin. He had a most distinguished career during the War of Independence when he served terms of imprisonment in Belfast’s Crumlin Road, Mountjoy, Cork and Dundalk Prisons, as well as several English jails. He was Commandant of the 7th Clare Battalion of the Irish Volunteers. Art was one of fifteen children born to Simon and Mary O’Donnell, she was an aunt of Con Colbert who was executed 1916, Art was a popular figure in Ennis where he resided for a long number of years during which he was employed on the clerical staff of Clare County Council. 

SOME IMPORTANT DATES 

January 1919 – War of Independence starts 

March 1920 – The British Government reinforced the R.I.C. with ex-soldiers nicknamed the ‘Black and Tans’ 

July 1921 – Truce negotiated – ending the War of Independence 

December 1921 – Anglo Irish Treaty signed in London 

June 1922 – Civil War escalates 

May 1923 – Civil War ended 

Michael Falahee and the Civil War 

The following song gives an account of the Tullycrine Ambush involving the Free State Soldiers and the Republicans. 

The Battle of Tullycrine 

We often sing of heroes who stood for Ireland’s rights,

 Who fought and died on hill and plain to crush proud England’s might,

 And with them now we’re going to place the brave ones of  our time,

 Who fought and beat the Staters in the Hills of Tullycrine.

 On the 6th day of October in the year of  ’22

The boys took up positions keeping Kilrush in their view

When low shots came from Hassetts’ fort and bullets like the wind,

The Staters came and tried to hunt the boys from Tullycrine.

 The battle it is started with the peal of rifle fire                                                                  

 Is heard  for miles around the place and bullets whizzing wild,

When coming on towards evening the Staters have retired

And flying towards Kilrush like birds from the Boys of Tullycrine.

 Here’s health to you Jack Cleary long may you lead the band

In all the fights for Ireland you proved yourself a man

To Martin Shanahan I give the hero of the time

He fought for the Old Republic on the Hills of Tullycrine.

 Long life to you brave Madigan now in your prision cell

And also Michael Falahee in history will tell

And likewise all the Boys with you arrested for no crime

Because they fought for Ireland in the Hills of Tullycrine.

 God rest the soul of Michael Keane that brave lad from Monmore,

 He fought them single handed from Carey’s to the grove

 But alas the following week this brave lad he died

And was laid to rest in Doonbeg far away from Tullycrine.

 They thought the Republic they would easily put down

But now they know we are prepared to die or hunt the Crown

They hounded down poor Parnell but now as all the time

By dear old Dev we’ll stand or fall says the Boys of Tullycrine

 Now deValera is the man for the Republic he stands

The Bearna Baoghal he never shirked he had always sword in hand

And before long you’ll surely see him in a coat so fine

Inspecting troops once more down there in the Hills of Tullycrine. 

 

  As the R.I.C. disbanded in 1922 the Irish Army occupied many of the barracks as was the story in Kildysart and Kilrush. The army enroute between Kildysart and Kilrush on October 6th 1922 were ambushed at Tullycrine. The ambush by the republicans commenced in the early afternoon and lasted until ten o’clock that evening.

Michael J. Keane of Gortglass  Kildysart was mortally wounded in the ambush. The following short few lines were written to his memory. 

A shot rang out and poor Michael fell

He got five hours to bid farewell

Ere for the regions of delight where pleasures never cease

He left this world of sin and strife

And entered into peace.

 

Michael J. Keane  was shot while crossing  between Michael Flannagan’s and Willie Flannagan’s houses.  From the above verse you have learned Michael only lived five hours after receiving his injuries. The late Eamon DeValera was a regular visitor to Simon O’Donnell’s Tullycrine  and  in the  era of the Tans he was sheltered in a number of occasions. In Tullycrine there is a field called ‘De Valera’s  field’ here DeValera  addressed a gathering of over one thousand people. In his speech De Valera is known to have said ‘’the future may hold bloodshed’’. Also on that day he viewed the obstruction boulders at Drumdigus previously arranged by his followers to detour the Black and Tans.   

More stories from the Civil War

 

During the Civil War the Republicans were active and caused much obstruction to the routes in which the Free State Army travelled. For example the bridges at Clonderlaw and Athalong were demolished. My father recalls an incident at Clonderlaw bridge involving Jack Purtill, who, on his return journey from Labasheeda one night, having alcohol consumed  and carrying a pigs head for the next days dinner, tumbled off the makeshift bridge, and ending up 100 yards down the Cloon river.

Trees from the Clonderlaw estate  to  construct the temporary bridge were supplied free of charge by the then resident landlord Mrs Frances Louisa Gore.  One of the many detours experienced during this period was the transporting of forty new seats for Kilmurry church from Labasheeda pier to Drumdigus via Coolmeen, the mode of transport being horse and cart.

The late Kitty O’Connor, Casserna informed me that the hack and crow bar used in the demolition of Athalong bridge was supplied by her father.

 My father recalls a search carried out in his parents house in the summer of 1922 by the State Soldiers. Although he was only nine years at the time he vividly remembers them making a search for ammunition and successfully locating  same in a secret place  in the chimney corner. The soldiers then proceeded across fields to Paddy Clancys’, Derryguiha. In the meantime my grandfather John Markham Snr, signaled Clancys’ by means of blowing a loud bugle.   

Families holding a strong republican involvement and tradition during the troubled  times in our neighbourhood included the Clancys, Derryguiha, the Ryans, Moyroe and Breenes, Derryshane. The late Thomas Breene of Derryshane  was a Captain in the Irish Army. In his retirement he participated in drama and also excelled as a violinist.

In the parish of Kilmurry McMahon – Labasheeda the majority of Free State Troops came from the Labasheeda village and peninsula district. In my possession I have a photograph of  the  Labasheeda Free State Soldiers pictured outside Kildysart barracks in 1922.

Kildysart Barracks

 

During the Civil War, Tom Howard of Derrynalicka had a narrow escape from multiple injuries during a planned explosive attack on Kildysart Barracks and its occupants.

Tom was blown off the roof landing on hard surface twenty feet below.  John O’Gorman Clohanes, Doonbeg and Lieut. John McSweeney of Kilkee were fatally wounded on that August day 1922.  Falahee was  wounded on the same day and made a full recovery in due course. The following story is also recalled of how the occupants had to evacuate when Michael Falahee set trams of hay ablaze in the adjoining lawn, the inhalation of smoke by the soldiers caused them to finish up on the exterior of the building hence leaving themselves vulnerable.

Michael Falahee’s gun used in the War of Independence was discovered in the ruins of the old out-office in Ballyguiry, some years ago.

Falahee and another stalwart republican Bird McCarthy from the battery peninsula would have used boats from Kilkerrin to Co. Limerick and Tarbert while on the run from the authorities. 

Labasheeda Sinn Fein Club (September 1924)

 

The following is an extract from the Clare Champion September 1924…….

At a meeting of the above club, held on Sunday last, the following resolution was unanimously adopted …’’That we the members of this club congratulate Mr. Michael Falahee (Republican ex-internee) in his election as Chairman of Kildysart District Council. We are glad to see Kildysart District Council awakening to a sense of duty, and hope that more public bodies in Clare will soon follow their example.’’ 

1932 Election

 When Eamon DeValera’s team won the election of 1932, great rejoicing was experienced locally. The Falahee family and Dr. McAuliffe of Thornberry House organized a public parade followed by almost 200 hundred people, with flags, bands and colours.

Joe Falahee had a fork stuck on a sod of turf steeped in paraffin oil. Dan Falahee had been searching prior to the parade for an old black hat. Eventually he got a black hat from Jack Purtill of Prospect he was the only man in the locality to have such a hat. An imitation of Bill Cosgrave was made and the hat placed on it.  A fire was lit by Joe Falahee and the effigy was placed in the fire and the crowds shouted aloud ‘burn the h……’ Jack Purtill’s hat was burned in the display, Jack was left hatless for some time and eventually Dr. McAuliffe gave an extra large hat to Jack as a replacement. The phrase from Jack still lives on ‘ All I got from DeValera was a burned hat’.

Another humorous incident occurred in Coolmeen church yard  in the election campaign. This time Dr. McAuliffe assisted by Michael Breene of Derryshane used an ass and cart as a platform to address the mass goers . Not having permission from the owner who became furious and untied the donkey. Dr. McAuliffe found himself heading off in a different direction having to return by foot. 

More on the Falahees 

According to tradition the Falahees were Catholic and originally came from Northern Ireland to Clare.The first reference to the Falahee family in Ballyguiry which I have located dates to July 11th 1834 when the name Matthew Falahee appears in the Tithe Applotment Book . This was

a tax paid to the established church of the time. In 1855 in Griffiths Valuation the name Matthew appears and holds the following acerage at ….

Clonrass   0A-2R-33P,   Ballygeery East   19A-1R-2p     Ballygeery West   1A-0R-20P

               46A-3R-11P                                32A-0R-16P                                 8A-3R-12P

               53A-3R-27P

 Charlotte Barclay of nearby Ballyartney House and Matthew Falahee in joint held 106A-1R-5P at Ballygeery West.

Michael Falahee was born in 1895 and was son of Patrick and Bridget Falahee (nee Duggan). He had four brothers and two sisters; Patrick, John, Dan, Joe, Mary and Catherine. Patrick died following an accident on June 12th 1920 aged 26 years.

Michael while still a young robust man emigrated to America he married a Miss Marrinan of County Clare parents on February 1st 1939.  He died on November 11th 1963 at the age of 68 years.  His family - John, Brian, Peggy and Joe - keep in contact with their ancestral homeland. 

Falahee House 

The Falahee house stood at the present day entrance to the Shannon Gaels GAA Park, it was a landmark to many.  The thatched cottage was photographed by many tourists, while geese and the wicked gander were  sure to be seen crossing the road on their way to the stream. The many laying hens were visible roaming around the yard and also the goats finding shelter by the wall.

The two sisters Mary and Catherine were always on the move, transporting water from the well, or milk from the dairy in galvanized buckets. These ladies made fresh butter on a regular basis.  The little gable window facing Labasheeda will be remembered by many. Often Joe could be viewed having a shave in the morning. The older generation who went on cuaird to Falahees recall the country kitchen , the dresser, the clock hanging on the wall, the yarns told by the fireside and the sound of the crickets emerging from the hearth.The rambling roses in front of the cottage produced a delightful scent, to this day one can almost get the pleasant smell.

Although no trace of the Falahee House exists the name Falahees’Cross still lives on and the contribution of the Falahee family to Shannon Gaels GAA club is acknowledged by a plaque at the entrance to Shannon Gaels GAA Park. 

 

TOMBSTONE INSCRIPTIONS  (KILLOFIN CEMETERY) CO. CLARE. 

Matthew Falahee

Erected by Thomas Falahee 1886

His grandson Patrick died 12th June 1920 aged 26 years

 IN MEMORY OF

Patrick Falahee died 15th Feb. 1941

His wife Bridget died 13th Feb. 1946

Their children

John died 14th Feb. 1962

Dan died 6th Feb. 1964

Joe died 18th Feb. 1968

Mary died 22nd Feb. 1970

Catherine died 5th Oct. 1970

R.I.P.

 

      

 

 

 

 

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