#OTD in 1920 – Sinn Féin County Councillor John Lynch of Kilmallock, Limerick was assassinated by British agents at the Exchange Hotel Dublin.

At 1.15 am Captain Geoffrey Thomas Baggallay, a “one-legged” courts-martial officer had phoned Dublin Castle telling of John Lynch’s presence at the Exchange Hotel. A group of 12 soldiers entered the Exchange Hotel, wearing military caps and long black Burberry coats. They held the hotel porter, William Barrett, at gunpoint. After consulting the register they went to the bedroom of John Lynch. It was number 6 on the third floor, where John Lynch had been staying since 12 Sept.

They shot him and the soldiers left; the soldiers claimed Lynch had fired a shot at them when they attempted to arrest him. The military reported a death at the hotel at 2.15 am. The RIC arrived after the military reported the death to them. The coroners verdict was that Lynch was shot by a soldier in self-defence. No evidence was given by any soldiers at the inquiry. The IRA believed that the actual murder was carried out by Henry James Angliss and Charles Ratsch Peel working undercover. The group of khaki-clad men who shot Lynch numbered about 12, and the IRA certainly believed that Angliss and Peel were among them from the inside information that they received from “Lt G” at Dublin castle. Lt G is believed to be Lily Mernin who worked as a typist at army headquarters.

Michael Collins believed that many of the British officers that were later killed on ‘Bloody Sunday’ shot John Lynch in the Exchange Hotel. Lynch was the local Sinn Féin organiser of a loan and was in Dublin to hand over £23,000 in subscriptions to Collins. Altogether £370,163 was raised in the loan effort in Ireland by September 1920 when it closed down.

It is not possible to know who the 12 men on the raiding party were who shot Lynch, however, apparently Lt. Angliss, under the influence of drink, divulged his participation in the shooting to a girl who passed this information on to an IIS informant. Peel escaped death on ‘Bloody Sunday’ by barracading himself in his room. George Osbert Smyth (on attachment to avenge his brother (Gerald’s death, shot by the IRA after a speech he gave in Listowel, Co Kerry) is understood to have been part of the raiding party, from information given to his family on a visit home. Osbert Smyth was shot dead in October 1920 while trying to arrest IRA suspects Dan Breen and Sean Treacy at a house in Drumcondra.

Photo: Cairo Gang

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