May 1919


In a memo to the British cabinet, Churchill (as Secretary of State for War) says that due to the ‘inadequacy of the number of troops available’, he was of the opinion “for a long time past” that “all military commitments not vital to the British Empire should be cut down with a view to concentrating all available troops at the essential points”. 

The immediate issue was British troops stationed in the Caucasus but despite efforts by Churchill and CIGS Wilson to get the troops withdrawn they were not withdrawn until early June 1920 (after the British garrison in Enzeli on the Caspian Sea was captured by the Russian Red Army on May 19th 1920).  This was due to opposition from Curzon, the British Foreign Secretary.

See Jun-04-20/1.


Jeffrey (2006), pgs 247-248


The Irish-American delegation - consisting of Frank P Walsh (a labour lawyer); Edward F Dunne (former Governor of Illinois) and Michael J Ryan (a Philadelphia lawyer) - arrives in Dublin to investigate conditions in Ireland.  (See Apr-17 to 19/1.) They had been appointed by an umbrella Irish American group, the Irish Race Convention. They stay until May 12th.

See May-07-19/1.

Hopkinson (2002), pg xiv & 33-34; Fanning (2013), pg 198; Mitchell (1995), pgs 40-41


A member of the Irish Volunteers, Stephen Lehane, is accidently shot dead by a comrade in Mallow, Co. Cork.


O’Halpin and Ó Corráin (2020), pg 10


Two members of the British Royal Navy, Charles Hearne and Thomas McDowall, drown in Westport, Co. Mayo.

O’Halpin and Ó Corráin (2020), pg 550


Reacting to the visit of the American delegation, who had been travelling around the country since their arrival, the Irish Times states “Their message [of support for the Irish Republic as ratified by Dáil Éireann] has given an enormous stimulus to Sinn Féin [and has come] as a dose of oxygen to a patient whom the absurd policy of abstention from the House of Commons in favour of a mock Parliament at home had reduced [them] to a critical state”. 

See May-09-19/1.


Mitchell (1995), pg 40


RAF man, William Forrest King Kretmar, dies as a result of a flying accident in Tallaght, Co. Dublin.

O’Halpin and Ó Corráin (2020), pg 550


The Irish Administration in Dublin Castle is unsure what to policy to adopt towards the Dáil.  Ian Macpherson, Chief Secretary for Ireland, writes to Llyod George saying “We did not and do not know how to act”.

However, Fanning says that Macpherson, French and Long were pushing the British cabinet to proclaim Sinn Féin, Irish Volunteers, Cumman na mBán and the Gaelic League as illegal organisations.  A proposal that even the hard-line unionist Bonar Law has reservations about – with regard to Sinn Féin, he said that he feared the repercussions of “suppressing an organisation that represented a great part of the South of Ireland”.


Townshend (2014), pg 99; Fanning (2013), pgs 198-199; O’Sullivan Greene (2020), pg 22


Fourth Session of the First Dáil – The Dáil addressed by Frank P Walsh and the other two members of the Irish American Delegation. 

The Dáil is surrounded by British forces looking for wanted men including Collins.  But Collins, Barton and other wanted men escape.

De Valera is delighted with Walsh’s speech but privately Walsh and the other two members of his delegation give de Valera a very pessimistic assessment of the chances of success at the Paris Peace Conference.  See May-13-19/2

On May 12th, the American Delegation return to Paris. See Jun-11-19/1.

The proceedings of this meeting of the Dáil is available online at:

See Jun-17 to 19-19/1 for Fifth Session of the First Dáil.


Hopkinson (2002), pg 40; Coogan (1990), pg 113; Mitchell (1995), pgs 40-41


Sean Hogan (Tipperary 3rd Brigade, Irish Volunteers) is captured by the police in Meagher's of Annfield in the early morning after leaving a dance at Eamon O'Duibhir house in Ballagh.

See May-13-19/1. 

Breen (1989), pg 62; Townshend (2014), pgs 80-81


South Armagh and Dundalk Irish Volunteers, under Frank Aiken, stage a major raid on Ballyedmond Castle in Co. Down which they thought held a large store of UVF arms.  It was a well-planned raid but failed to get many arms.


McDermott (2001), pg 25; Hall (2019), pg 64


A member of the Royal Navy, Edward Fisher, commits suicide by jumping out a window in Larne, Co. Antrim.

O’Halpin and Ó Corráin (2020), pg 550


Knocklong Rescue

Sean Hogan is rescued from the RIC’s custody at Knocklong railway station, Co Limerick.  This rescue results in the killing of two RIC men (Sgt Peter Wallace and Constable Michael Enright).


More Detail

O'Donoghue, F (1986), pg 46; Abbott (2000), pgs 35-39;  Breen (1989), pgs 59-62;  Ryan (1945), pgs 90-107; Brennan (1980), pg 38; Abbott (2019), pgs 43-48; Townshend (2014), pgs 80-81; O’Halpin and Ó Corráin (2020), pg 111;

Carey (2001), pgs 157-178


Commenting of the visit of the American delegation to Ireland, the [London] Times states that the effect of the visit is the submergence of “every policy of the moderation so that a full Republic is now the irreducible minimum of hundreds of thousands of Nationalists”.


Mitchell (1995), pg 41


In the aftermath of Knocklong Rescue, French writes to Macpherson saying that Sinn Féin should be proclaimed illegal.  Macpherson had raised this possibility earlier in the month at a British cabinet meeting – see May-08-19/1 - but three Liberal ministers in the British government (Shortt, Fisher and Addison) had argued against it and even arch-unionist Bonar Law was doubtful that it would work. Even Long said that it should be delayed – however see May-16-19/1.


O’Halpin (1987), pg 187


Joe Devlin writes to his party leader, John Dillion, saying that “… nothing will come of the [Paris] Peace Conference.  The position must inevitably come to … a fierce conflict between the government and Sinn Féin, and I am afraid the country is in for a bad time.”


Phoenix (1994), pg 54


Macpherson writes to Bonar Law again seeking permission to ban Sinn Féin, Irish Volunteers, Cumman na mBan and the Gaelic League saying that if the British cabinet approved then “it means open war with all its horrible consequences”.  Law says that these organisations should not be suppressed until Llyod George had considered it.  Also, Walter Long is sent to Ireland. 

See May-21-19/1.


McBride (1991), pg 265


De Valera, Griffith and Plunkett send a letter to the head of the Peace Conference in Paris (Clemenceau) repudiating Britain’s claim to speak for Ireland.


Macardle (1999), pg 296


BA soldier, Alfred Beake, dies in an accident in Howth, Co. Dublin.

O’Halpin and Ó Corráin (2020), pg 550


Dr Kathleen Lynn and Madeleine ffrench-Mullen open St Ultan’s hospital for infants at 37 Charlemont St, Dublin.


McCoole (2019), pg 14


Michael Tobin, 1st Battalion, Cork No. 1 Brigade, Irish Volunteers dies after been injured in an accident when he and two comrades when making bombs on April 28th. This happened in Grattan St in Cork City and four other people were injured.

O'Kelly in Anvil Book (1955), pg 25, O’Halpin and Ó Corráin (2020), pg 111; Sheehan (2017), pg 126


Writing to Macpherson, Long praises him for the work that he is doing “You are doing splendidly and have got the confidence of all”.  But he says that this is not the time for declaring Sinn Féin illegal – “In no country in the world is it so important … that strong measures should not consist merely in printed proclamation”.  First, there needs to be a “root and branch alteration” to the political surveillance work of the RIC.  He went on to say that other RIC officers are “either worn out or incompetent” and should be replaced. Finally (and ominously) he says that the RIC should be brought up to strength by recruiting ex-soldiers from England. 

See May-24-19/1.


O’Halpin (1987), pg 188


Writing to Macpherson, French says “I like Walter Long’s idea to employ discharged soldiers in the RIC”. 

See May-27-19/1

O’Halpin (1987), pg 188; Molyneux and Kelly (2020), pg 97


Official statement of “Ireland’s Case for Independence” sent by Dáil government to the Peace Conference in Paris.


Macardle (1999), pg 296



Writing to Llyod George after his visit to Ireland, Walter Long says (as he did to Macpherson on May 21st) that it was not the time for declaring Sinn Féin illegal and that the RIC needed overhauling first.  He said that the chief RIC officers were either incompetent or worn out.  He said that RIC IG Joseph Byrne had lost his nerve and said that he should be replaced.  He suggested TJ Smith, a Belfast RIC officer, as his replacement.

See Nov-10-19/2.


McBride (1991), pg 266


RIC Constable Patrick Gilleece dies in a drowning accident. 

Abbott (2019), pg 406; Abbott (2000), pg 316


American Peace Delegation in Paris finally refuse to recommend that the Peace Conference should hear from the “representatives of the so-called Irish Republic”.


Pakenham (1967), pg 35


The Covenant of the League of Nations is signed. 

(Kissane says that because this Covenant guaranteed the territorial integrity of its members, it undermined Ireland’s case for independence.)


Kissane (2005), pg 45


Basil Thomson made head of a new Directorate of Intelligence which incorporates the Special Branch of the London Metropolitan Police. He is given responsibility for “combatting all domestic subversion and for analysing all intelligence on revolutionary movements”.  In late 1919, he gets involved in Ireland and starts sending agents to Ireland.

See Dec-06-19/1.


McMahon (2008), pg 30


The RIC’s County Inspector for Cork East Riding and City reports that a bomb had been left on the window sill of the Cork County Club on Grand Parade.


Sheehan (2017), pg 126











Laurence Ginnell is arrested.  He is replaced as the Dáil’s Director of Publicity by Desmond Fitzgerald.  Fitzgerald recruits Erskine Childers as his deputy. 

See Nov-11-19/3.

Townshend (2014), pgs 94-95; Mitchell (1995), pg 101


Home     1919     Next Month    Previous Month       Bibliography