Raid on Carolan House, 12 Oct 1920

carolan raid

Times Report, 1920 Oct 12

fernside, drumcondra

On the 12th of October 1920, Treacy and Breen were hiding at Fernside, 37 Upper Drumcondra Road, a safe house owned by Professor Carolan. Professor John Carolan, lectured in the nearby St Patricks teacher-training college. The house was small, two-storeyed and had a long back garden (since built over). The house was raided by a unit of nine mixed troops and intelligence men under Lt Philip Attwood. In the ensuing shootout, two British officers were killed (Major Smyth and Captain White), as was the owner of the house, Dr. Carolan. Treacy and Breen escaped through a window and shot their out. The badly injured Breen was smuggled into Dublin's Mater hospital. Treacy had been wounded but not seriously.

Dalton's WS says that Breen and Treacy were followed from Flemings of Drumcondra to Fernside by a tout called Robert Pike.

The raid on Prof Carolan's house in Drumcondra was carried out by 9 men under Lt Phil Attwood and included RD Jeune, Major Smyth, Capt White (who was also killed), Corporal Worth (wounded) and Michael ? (recorded as firing his revolver in the garden). Witness statements come from 6 men and do not appear to include either Corporal Worth nor Jeune (presumably as he had same evidence as Attwood, witness 8). 3 men wen to the top floor and were in the elderly lodgers room, "Witness 3, Witness 4 and Capt White), 2 men were shot as they went past the door where Breen and Treacy were hiding (Major Smyth and Corporal Worth and witness 5 was with them), 2 were downstairs questioning Carolan and guarding the hall (Witness 6 and witness 7) and 2 men were in the back garden (Attwood who was witness 8, and Jeune, not called)

Professor Carolan was "shot by mistake while being questioned" according to Jeune who was there and Carolan died a few weeks later from the wounds.The balance of probability is that this is true - Witness 4 states that he used force in his testimony. My feeling is that Carolan was shot by Breen and Tracy while being used as a shield by witness 5. He was later shot, probably accidentally while being interrogated by witness 4.

Dan Breen was in the house, but escaped badly injured and died in hospital. Sean Tracy also escaped, and was killed a few weeks later in Talbot Street incident. . The two of them escaped by jumping from the second floor room they were in, through the glass conservatory rook which broke their falls. The height of the jump can be seen in the photo above.

At 2am the raiding party went to the Professor Carolan's house, Fernside, Drumcondra, Dublin. Fernside is on the corner of Home Farm Road and Upper Drumcondra Road. It is the detached house fronting on to Upper Drumcondra Road, with a conservatory on the Home Farm Road side. The house goes under a different name to-day.

The Professor let them into his house, where they went firstly to Carolan's bedroom in which his wife was sleeping. They then went to the second flight of stairs and it was there that Osbert Smyth was murdered, along with Captain A P White of the Surrey Yeomanry. Both men were believed to have been shot by Sean Treacy and possibly Dan Breen. Smyth had a torch alight on his belt when he entered the back bedroom, and was immediate shot though the heart by Breen. In the resulting confusion, Capt White was killed and Corporal Worth wounded.

A few minutes later Jeune was in the garden and heard a single shot, which was the "unfortunate accident" in which Prof Carolan was wounded, and later died of these injuries. Attwood and Jeune were in the garden at the back of the house to cut off any retreat by the occupants.to cut of, when they heard the shots from inside

Breen and Treacy jumped out a side window of the house and fell through the conservatory roof, sustaining many cuts. Making their way along St. Marys Road (now Home Farm Road) they eventually separated. Treacy going to an address at Inchicore Road and Breen to a safe house at Finglas. Breen was eventually brought to the Mater Hospital for treatment and the nuns there hid him from the authorities. Treacy left Inchicore one week later and made his way to Talbot Street, but was shot dead there by the British.

A court of inquiry was held with regard to the deaths of Major Smyth and Captain White in the King George V Hospital, presided over by Major Harding DSO MC of the Royal Garrison Artillery. Captain R F Bridges RAMC examined the two men's bodies. The examination on Osbert Smyth's body showed that a bullet had gone through his chest, through his liver and exited from the right side of his back. The second bullet went through his back from the left side, through his right lung and then through a vertebra. Death was due to shock and haemorrhage. His body was removed from the King George V Military Hospital with full military honours and placed in a mortuary van attached to the train at Amiens Street Station from whence it was taken to Banbridge.

The full Court of Inquiry report is here - they have censored it to remove names

1911 census carolan

Prof John Carolan died as a result of a bullet wound on 28 Oct 1920. One concludes that John Carolan's death was an accident, in as much as the Republican side never appear to have alluded to his death as a murder. The 1911 census above shows him living at another Drumcondra address in 1911 with his wife, 5 year old son and brother. He is given as a professor of Science and the Art of Teaching. History has recorded little about him.

Incidents involving British Intelligence in Dublin