In his ZOOM chat with Jude recently, Pat McArt had a story of the IRA burying a man up to his neck on BANNA STRAND near Tralee, facing out to see the tide come in to bury him.

The story doesn’t hold water but is a variation of a story put in the Edinburgh published BLACKWOODS MAGANINE in May 1921 and later reproduced in Blackwood’ “Tales of the RIC”  ‘a book of anonymous short stories’ . It was rehashed in numerous books including Richard Bennett’s THE BLACK AND TANS,  and Tim Pat Coogan’s “IRELAND SINCE THE RISING (1966) .

In 1989 it was reprinted in THE IRISH TIMES by Kevin Myers, though he retracted the story, blaming it on Basil Clarke and his Propaganda Machine in Dublin Castle. The  propaganda machine may have had a Kerry Fixation because they filmed “an ambush near Tralee” on Dublin’s Vico Road, stills from which still appear in THE IRISH TIMES as the Real McCoy.

 Captain  Alan Cane Lendrum MC, from Trillick,, Co. Tyrone  who had served with the Inniskilling Fusiliers, a Resident Magistrate in County Clare was shot  and wounded in the head on 22 September 1920, probably accidentally by an IRA man in a party wishing to apprehend him as he drove his car. The local IRA Brigadier Willie Shanahan arrived on the scene and tried to dispose of the car, being the only IRA man there who could drive. Shanahan and another IRA officer, Captain of the Doonbeg Company , Michael McNamara were captured, tortured and murdered by Crown Forces soon afterwords, but the exact circumstances of Ledrum’s death were never established. What is certain is that he was not buried alive to watch the tide come in.

Following the murder of Lord Mayor of Cork, Tomas MacCurtain, in March 1920 by Royal Irish Constabulary under the immediate control of District Inspector Swanzy and ultimate control of the British Cabinet in London, a Coroner’s Jury found that he had been wilfully murdered by RIC under Swanzy and the chain of command going up to David Lloyd George.

The British suppressed Inquests, substituting their own, more malleable, courts of enquiry. The death certificate, for Captain Lendrum informed by  one of those courts, stated that his resulted “from murder  by shooting by persons unknown.”

The Death Certificate only emerged in the public about 90 years after the publication of the fiction which is still doing the rounds today.

Most of the above is from an article by Eoin Shanahan in HISTORY IRELAND Voume 18  no.1 of Jan/Feb 20   The gist of the story “TELLING TALES:The story of the burial alive and drowning of a Clare RM in 1920” is accessible on line.

Eoin Shanahan is (was?) a nephew of IRA Brigadier Willie Shanahan of the IRA  and acknowledged the help of Geoff Simmons, great-nephew of Alan Ledrum in researching those events

The article suggests further reading

 1.   D.Fitzpatrick “Politics and Irish Life,1913-1921; provincial experience of war and  revolution (1998)

2. J.W. Foster , Irish Novels, 1890-1940: new bearings in Culture and Fiction (2008)

3. B.P. Murphy “The origins and organisation of British propaganda in Ireland, 1920. (Aubane 20060


About 65 years ago I read BLACKWOOD’S MAGAZINE for December 1922 which my father had in the house, the only copy of which I have ever come across. It had a feature on Ireland, a bitterly hostile and  inaccurate one. It attacked the principles and tactics of Republicans during the 1916-1921 period, comparing them to those of Signor Mussolini, whom they quite clearly admired.

One of the most prominent of Dublin Castle’s Black Propaganda gang was an Officer surnamed Darling who wrote of the Irish as a degraded race. He later became Provost of Edinburgh and a Tory MP for that city. A great nephew of his became Chancellor of the Exchequer in a New Labour Cabinet under Gordon Brown, an unreconstructed Unionist and creator of Armed Forces Day.

A Sinn Fein propagandist countering the Dublin Castle Black Propagandists was a former Imperialist and nephew of a former Chancellor of the Exchequer.  He was shot shortly before the December 1922  Edition of Blackwood’s Magazine was due in the newsagents, but probably after the story I read had gone to the printers

His name was Erskine Childers.

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