One-sided view of Kilmichael Ambush

August 8th, 2020 5:10 PM

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SIR – The West Cork History Festival has again demonstrated its preference for one-sided discussion and debate. Its ‘digital’ offering for 2020 offers one view of the Kilmichael Ambush of November 1920, which it labels ‘(in)famous’ – that of Eve Morrison, who generally supports the late Peter Hart’s infamous account.

In 2017, your letters page indulged a lively debate on the ambush between Morrison and a number of others, Barry Keane, Niall Meehan, John Regan and Donald Wood. The reason the debate took place in The Southern Star is because the festival, true to its mission, excluded it. The letters were combined in an Aubane Historical Society pamphlet, available online at academia.edu.

The censorious festival approach continues this year, the centenary of the ambush in which Tom Barry’s IRA flying column annihilated an Auxiliary patrol on November 28th, 1920. One week after Michael Collins organised the successful attack on Britain’s intelligence network in Dublin, on ‘Bloody Sunday’, the Kilmichael Ambush marked a step-change in resistance to British counterinsurgency and terror tactics.

In 1998, Peter Hart questioned the allegation by Tom Barry and numerous others (British and Irish) that auxiliaries engaged in a ‘false surrender, at the ambush, resulting in the deaths of two (not three as Hart and Morrison mistakenly wrote) IRA volunteers, Pat Deasy and Jim O’Sullivan. It was instead a massacre of unarmed prisoners, said Hart.

No false surrender as Barry described it took place, wrote Hart, followed by Morrison. Hart labelled Barry a liar and a serial killer in a classic revisionist-history take-down. As support for his view, Hart spoke anonymously, so he said, to an ambush participant six days after the last one, Ned Young, died on November 13th, 1989.

Morrison announced some years ago being on the trail of this ghost. I hope she is in a position to reveal his current whereabouts at the West Cork Seance (sorry ‘History’) Festival.

I believe an appropriate occasion will commemorate the Ambush closer to the 100th anniversary, that will transcend revisionist quackery in all its forms.

Tom Cooper,

118, Templeville Road,


Dublin 6W.

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