Kilmallock Historical and Heritage Society – Centenary of Attack on Ballylanders RIC Barracks

27th April 2020 marks the Centenary of the attack on Ballylanders RIC Baracks in County Limerick.
The attack involved a large number of local men assigned to various IRA units from throughout Limerick and Tipperary in ancillary roles, blocking roads and cutting RIC communications, but only around 30 or so in the actual attack, that was the number that could be reliably armed.
The plan, constructed at a meeting of the battalion command a few days prior, called for the barracks – that usually contained a contingent of six or so RIC – to be pinned down by fire from all sides, while an attack party used homemade bombs and flammable material on the roof. This avenue of attack was devised due to the difficulty of penetrating a very robust building, with thick stone walls, steel doors, and shuttered windows.
After assembling at the nearby Ballylanders bridge, the IRA enacted their plan by commandeering surrounding houses, and a dispensary. The men involved included Tomas Malone, Westmeath-born and working in the area on the direct order of Michael Collins. While the attack was not sanctioned by GHQ officially, Malone would later claim that Collins had strongly encouraged him to help organise some manner of operation. He used a fake name – Seán Forde – to avoid detection while he was in the area. There was also Donal O’Hannigan, a leading member of the East Limerick IRA.
The attacking party climbed onto the roof of the barracks while the other IRA units opened fire on the front of the building. The garrison inside the building were taken totally by surprise and responded with rifle fire across the street at the opposing IRA units.
Malone and his men broke a hole in the roof of the barracks with the aid of sledgehammers and rocks, which allowed them to throw bombs and various lighted torches into the building. The RIC officers opened fire up through the hole on the roof narrowly missing the attacking party.
The attack continued for approximately another half an hour by which time the barracks were burning profusely and Sergeant Tuohy, the sergeant in charge of the barracks at that time, raised the white flag and ordered a cease fire. The men then marched out of the burning building and were taken under armed guard down the Knocklong road to Constable Clifford’s house where they were detained for a short period.
Seán Meade was the only IRA casualty on the night, having been shot in the left lung while he was struggling to clear his jammed rifle.
The IRA faced the daunting task of entering the burning barracks to retrieve the much-needed arms, which included ten carbines, five Webley revolvers, mills bombs and several rounds of ammunition. These weapons were used in the subsequent attack on Kilmallock barracks.
The modus operandi of this daring feat, formed the basis for many subsequent attacks on RIC barracks throughout Munster , which quickly neutralised their dominance in the province, and ultimately led to the taking control by the various IRA units and bringing British Rule to a standstill.
The Kilmallock Historical Society are proposing to erect a monument which will honour the brave men and women involved in this, and all other activities during the War Of Independence in the local areas.
If you would like to subscribe to this project, you may view the proposed monument on Kilmallock Historical Society Facebook page and contribute to the go fund me page associated with it.