Castleisland ambush - 10 Jul 1921

A curfew patrol at Castleisland of about 20 men of 2nd Loyal North Lancs was attacked in Upper Main Street, two severely wounded soldiers being taken into Reidy's pub until the fighting was over. Denis Reidy was said to have suffered great animosity from the local republicans for his humanity and his business suffered greatly for years after.

From a document by Denis Prendiville who took part in the ambush, and whose brother died in it. In July 1921, the Brigade O/C Humphrey Murphy gave orders that an attack be carried out on a curfew patrol in Castleisland.  It was usual for a patrol to leave the Barracks at the southern of the town and parade up the Main St.  The patrol consisted of 15 to 20 soldiers.  The Brigade O/C. fixed the attack for the night of July 10th 1921.  On that night I took up position in a laneway at St. Stephen’s church with Michael O’Leary and Jack Barrett.  Other parties of our men were posted in laneways on both sides of the Main St.  The Brigade and Battalion staffs took up positions in the ruins of the Library (which we had burned the previous month). The men in the Library ruins were Humphrey Murphy, Brigade O/C., Thomas Daly, Jerry O’Leary, David McCarthy, and Con O’Leary.  The patrol came out of the Barracks as usual and proceeded up the Main St.  When they got to the point on the Main St.  where the Limerick Rd. enters, they came under fire. A general fight developed.  The party in the Library ruins opened fire down the Main St.  My party opened fire out of the laneway and brought our fire to bear on a party which had got out of the Barracks to reinforce the patrol.  While some of the British Military held us engaged the remainder returned to the Barracks and passing through left the Barracks by the rear, on both sides of the town. My party hold the British coming in behind our position and we started retiring towards the north of the town.  We retired along the backs of the houses fighting as we went.  All our parties on the west side of the town retired while my party covered them.  My party then withdrew under heavy machine gun fire.  Our men on the west side of the town found themselves being surrounded and commenced to retreat, but the ran into difficulties when a machine gun was brought  into play against them – three (my brother Jack Prendiville, Dick Shannhan and Jack Flynn) being killed before the party could finally withdraw.  The British lost six killed out of the original patrol.

The Piras Beaslai papers in Ireland have 1st Southern Division and Kerry No. 2 Brigade as the men involved in the ‘Castleisland ambush’.

Dan Keating was one of the IRA men. Volunteers Dick Shanahan, Jack Prendiville, John McMahon and John Flynn lost their lives.

British casualties were

The sequence of events was that the Curfew Patrol was ambushed, the Lt Sheridan took out a rescue party of 14 men



British Soldiers died in Ireland