The January edition of THE IRISH POLITICAL REVIEW carries an address on the Centenary of the Kilmichael Ambush given by Jack Lane. He noted that in the hundred and two years since the Irish electorate created a Republic not one book had been written devoted to the election.
THE TIMES, no supporter of Irish nationalism in any of its guises recorded that the 1918 General Election was regarded on all sides as a plebiscite. Standing on a Republican platform, with many, if not most of its candidates in British Gaols, Sinn Fein won 73 of Ireland’s Parliamentary Seats. The party led by John Dillon was left with 6 Irish seats, some through an arrangement with Sinn Fein, and the Unionists retained 26.
In 1920 the Municipal, County Council, and other local elections were even more emphatically supportive of the Republic, and most elected bodies declared allegiance to the Republic, flew the Tricolour over their premises and got on with their business in a responsible manner.
Not all the Republican Councillors were Sinn Feiners. Many were Irish Labour Party Men. Within the Councils Unionists generally got along in amity with the Republicans.
Republicans and Nationalists generally were nearly totally unarmed. Facing them in most of Ireland were the armed Royal Irish Constabulary, and tens of thousands of British Troops and equipped with rifles, machine-guns, artillery, armoured cars and tanks- lumbering monsters to inspire shock and horror as they paraded the city streets. In addition the British had many aircraft which they were to long use to “police” the unfortunate peoples of Iraq and other territories.
Early in 1920 the British Government directed a reign of terror arresting, imprisoning, torturing and murdering particularly local Councillors, Trade Unionists, teachers of the Irish Language. Town Halls, Libraries, Factories, Creameries were incinerated. In addition to this men, women and children were deliberately murdered. And the all-powerful British Navy, kept such a watch on the Irish coast that they could, and did, prevent the Irish-born Archbishop of Melbourne from visiting his sick mother.
That was the context of the Kilmicheal Ambush of 28 November 1920 and the execution, on the authority of Ireland’s Minister of Defence, Cathal Brugha, of British spies and assassins in Dublin on 21st Novembr 1920.
In this context it is right that not only Irish people but democrats of all countries should commemorate and honour “The Boys of Kilmichael” and the heroes of any communities who took on and vanquished the strutting, swaggering tyrants who tried to enslave them.