1921 – Carrowkennedy Ambush: Michael Kilroy and the IRA’s West Mayo Flying Column ambushed a convoy of RIC and Black and Tans.

The ambush was organised by Major General Michael Kilroy, later Commandant of the 4th Western Battalion of the IRA. He and his flying column of 33 volunteers took up position between Widow Sammon’s House and that of Widow McGreal in Carrowkennedy and awaited a Royal Irish Constabulary patrol.

When a unit of Black and Tans arrived, the volunteers opened fire. The column men captured 22 rifles, eight drums for the Lewis gun, several boxes of grenades, 21 revolvers, and around 6000 rounds of rifle ammunition. Petrol was shaken from tins over the two lorries and the car and there was a ‘furious blaze’.

Eight of the British side were killed outright or died of their wounds and 16 surrendered. A large number of weapons were seized. The Black and Tans who surrendered were not killed, even though this policy had been endorsed by IRA General Headquarters due to the terror and mayhem they inflicted on civilians. Many of the local people went into hiding to avoid the retribution of the Tans. The IRA volunteers escaped arrest by sheltering in safe houses.

Photo: Major General Michael Kilroy


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