Manchesters Ambushed near Macroom on 20 Jul 1920

In an ambush on the 20th of July 1920 while driving from Macroom to Ballyvourney County Cork several soldiers of the 1st Battalion The Manchester Regiment were seriously injured, two soldiers later died from wounds received. They were:

The Manchesters had arrived in Ballincollig on 12 Jul 1920. Locals thought it odd that there was a Capt in charge of this group which as only half a company (about 50 men) Under Capt Airy was his second in command Lt Sharman (died in another clash with IRA). Twohig in "Green Tears" says of Airy "What business he had to be there on that fatal day is shrouded in mystery"

"Where Mountainy Men have sown" By Micheal O'Suilleabhain : published 1965. He took part in the ambush. They took up positions to ambush a lorry to get rifles off the troops. However their plans were thrown out th window then a rare civilian Ford came the othr way, just as their target was approaching. The IRA men paused until the Ford had passed, then opened fire on the lorry.

"Mick the Soldier stood on the rock , feet apart , pouring rapid magazine fire downwards. Dannie Harrington stood a few yards from him to the west firing more slowly . Across the road , Con Sean Jer fired six shots from a double-barrelled shotgun while, near him , Jamie Moynihan rapidly worked another . A British Army Captain , named Airey , was killed beside the driver , who was himself hit twice , in the arm and the neck . The British Army lorry was by now out of control and it hit the northern rock-face a glancing blow , which tore off a spare wheel mounted on that side . Swerving across the road , it mounted a low wall which dropped inside to a depth of about fifteen feet - it was 'touch-and-go' for a good distance ; if it toppled in , the survivors would have little fight left in them . But the driver tore it off the wall and straightened it for the road . He was a very worthy man , and when we failed to stop him we wished him well . He drove off at high speed . Dannie had a few cartridges left in his magazine - he aimed carefully and fired ; the bullet pierced the rear petrol tank . This gave us renewed hope , and we set off in pursuit of the faltering truck , running roughly parallel to the road . We had hoped to overtake it before it left the rocky country around Poul na Bro , where we could close with it again . We were doomed to disappointment It had cleared the ground that would favour our approach and was stopped in the only patch of open country for miles around . Moreover , a party of British soldiers from the Ballyvourney Garrison had come out to meet it and had sent out sentries ......."

"Green tears for Hecuba" records the same details of the ambush (the author was the local priest so is reporting hearsay). However he does add "there was a Captain in charge, which was strange as a Captains command was usually a full company" (there being only a half company at Ballincollig). He goes on to say "a dead man lay in the cab. On his shoulder straps gleamed the triple rosettes of a Captain of infantry" And "what business he had to be there on that fateful day is shrouded in mystery. A story was current at the time that he had incurred the displeasure of of the townspeople in his short stay in Fermoy, because of an indiscretion with a young local girl And that the military authorities fearing a reprisal, had sent him on an enforced holiday [ie to Ballincollig] for the time being


British Soldiers killed in Ireland