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LETTER:Was Dan Hourihan at Kilmichael Ambush?

July 29th, 2017 5:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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SIR – Barry Keane (July 15th) is the one introducing further errors into this debate. I wish he had read Dan Hourihan's MSP application more carefully. In his testimony before the pensions board, March 5th, 1935, Hourihan did state that:

‘At Kilmichael, I was sent for to reinforce the Col the morning of the fight. I was Company Captain. I was ready to prepare for the retreat.' 

However, if Keane had read on a bit further he would have noted that on p5 of his appeal, December 8th, 1937, Hourihan described his activities in more detail:

‘On the eve of (the) Kilmichael ambush I got a despatch for five armed men to report at Column HQ that night which I did. As (the) Column were moving into positions. I was called out by Tom Barry Column O/C to return to my coy area and make preparations for (the) Column he having decided to return to my area that night. (The) Column arrived at 12 that night and I had everything in order before it.'

This suggests Hourihan did not take part in the actual fight. The application is freely available online so people can check for themselves. In 1973, however, Hourihan apparently told Meda Ryan he fought at Kilmichael and witnessed a false surrender by

the Auxiliaries. 

Likewise, Willie Chambers told his son he was a scout at the Enniskeane Bridge during the ambush. Yet the late Peter Hart's interview notes indicate that he told Hart he witnessed, and perhaps even took part in, executing Auxiliaries after the ambush. As I noted in previous correspondence, these contradictions can only be resolved if more evidence becomes available.

I consulted Hart's Kilmichael interview notes a few years ago. His papers are now in a publicly accessible archive (Peter Hart Collection, Coll-455, Archives and Special Collections, Queen Elizabeth II Library, Memorial University, Newfoundland). The MSP records of Chambers and other Kilmichael veterans are due for release. 

I have the late Fr Chisholm's Kilmichael interviews and papers, and am currently writing a book about the ambush. Chisholm directed me to give this material to Trinity College Dublin when I felt the time was right. As soon as my book is in press, I'll do that. 

Meda Ryan's interviews and Tom Barry's papers should be given to an archive now. 

Yours, etc. 

Eve Morrison, 

Trinity College, 

Dublin.

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