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Skibbereen garda killed in booby trap remembered in new book

January 14th, 2022 7:05 AM

By Jackie Keogh

Joe Queally’s book Echoes from A Civil War outlines the death of Skibbereen Garda Tadhg O’Sullivan.

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The West Cork connection to the Skibbereen garda who was killed in West Clare by a booby trap bomb in 1929 is set out in an engaging new book called Echoes From A Civil War by Joe Queally.

Timothy, better known as Tadhg, O’Sullivan hailed from High Street, Skibbereen, was a member of the IRA and fought for Ireland’s freedom in Kilmichael, the hills around Clonmel, and was very active reaching high into the ranks of the freedom fighters.  

When the Treaty was signed, Tadhg took the side of the pro-Treaty supporters and joined first the national army and then the gardaí. 

He played football with his own club Aughadown and everywhere he was stationed he immersed himself in the game. 

Early in 1929, he was stationed in Kilrush, West Clare, an area that was known at the time all over Ireland as ‘the wild west’ due to the West Clare brigades of the IRA accepting nothing but a thirty-two county Irish Republic. 

Hostility towards the gardaí was rife. Another Cork man, John O’Driscoll, who came from Sherkin Island, was stationed in Knock Garda station, also in West Clare. 

John O’Driscoll was despised by the local IRA because he harassed them day and night. They planned to get rid of him and the way to go about it would be to plant a booby trap bomb to blow him to pieces. 

They wrote an anonymous letter to Gda Driscoll to lure him to the bomb site and posted it to his station at Knock. He duly made his way to the meadow field and picked up the box, but was suspicious of it and brought it to a colleague Garda Cusack.

It was while they were looking at the box and deciding the best way to deal with it was to open it that Tadhg O’Sullivan came along on his bicycle after he had finished his duty roster at Kilrush Garda Station.

The three decided the best way to be safe and open the box was to get a piece of barbed wire which was on the gate going into the farm and tie it on to the hasp on the box, stand well back and prise the box open. 

After two unsuccessful attempts, the box remained closed. Tadhg moved forward, took hold of the box, and brought it towards his chest, grabbing the cover with his right hand.

He pulled open the cover and was blown to pieces, while his colleagues were blown several yards down the field, but survived. 

Tadhg’s funeral took place to Skibbereen and he is laid to rest in Creagh cemetery. His story and a history of the time are featured in the book, priced €20, which isavailable from the author [email protected] or via 087 6260301.

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