May 1920



Limerick city shot up by police.

Macardle (1999), pg 353


The Connaught Tribune reports that armed men forced their way into the home of Francis Persse in Cloonmore, Roscahil, Co. Galway and ordered him to leave.  Mr Persse and his family left the following morning.  This was one of number of occasions when landowners were forced to leave their homes.  While sometimes the armed men were from the IRA, frequently it was local men trying to intimidate landowners into selling their land. (Sometimes the local IRA would come to the defence of the landowner – See Henry (2012), pgs 45-46.) 

Henry (2012), pg4 44-45


Three RIC men shot at in Derry in separate incidents but they escape serious injury.  Within a week, two more RIC shot and injured in Bishop St in Derry.

Gallagher (2003), pg 21; Grant (2018), pg 96; Ozseker (2019), pg 145


Three RIC men were cycling from Listowel to Ballylongford in Co. Kerry when they were ambushed at Galebridge by the Ballydonoghue company of the IRA.  In a bloody struggle, Sgt Francis McKeena of the RIC is killed.  (Sgt McKeena had arrested Sir Roger Casement in 1916.)

Abbott (2000), pg 74;  Horgan (2018),  pg 125


The few Nationalist MPs at Westminster (after a meeting held on the 24th April where they decided that it was hopeless to try to make any ameliorating changes to the British government’s Bill for Ireland) issue a statement saying that they will be abstaining from the committee stages of the Bill and attack the Bill as creating an artificial area under the control of the ‘ascendancy party’.

Phoenix (1994), pg 83


A group of armed and masked men enter a house at Clonadarone near Tuam, Co. Galway.  They remove a girl from the house and took her to the backyard of the house and cut her hair with shears.  Her crime was that she had allowed a young soldier to pay for a ride on a hobby horse for her niece at travelling amusements in Tuam earlier that day.

Henry (2012), pg 49


T. Dowling from Arklow, Co. Wicklow dies.

O’Farrell (1997), pg 106


Cloyne RIC barracks captured by men from 4th Battalion, Cork No. 1 Brigade led by Battalion O/C Mick Leahy.

Breen (1989), pg 106; Cashman in The Kerryman (1955), pg 60



The inquest into the three men killed in Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare on the 14th April (see above) states that they were died from bullet wounds inflicted by "Sergeant Hampson, Constables Thomas O'Connor and Thomas Keenan, Lance-Corporal Kenneth McLeod, Privates William Kilgon (Kilgour), James McEwan, Peter McLoughlin, Robert Bunting and Richard Adams.  We find from the evidence that each of the above-named members of the patrol was guilty of wilful murder, without any provocation …".  The Coroner issued warrants for the arrest of these men and they were served on RIC DI Mooney.  Even though the Coroner’s findings were binding under the law of the land, the named men were never arrested or charged.

O'Malley (2001), pg 86; O'Kelly and Mulvey in The Kerryman (1955), pg 149; Ó Ruairc (2009), pg 132-133


The Newtownhamilton RIC barracks in Co. Armagh is attacked by the IRA led by Frank Aiken.  Despite breaching the wall with gelignite and putting the barracks on fire, the RIC refused to surrender and eventually the IRA withdrew.  Six RIC men received medals for their bravery in defence of the barracks.

Lawlor (2011), pgs 21-24


A police patrol is attacked at Ahawadda, on the road from Timoleague to Lislevane, Co. Cork.  Three RIC men are killed (Sgt John Flynn, Constable William Brick and Constable Edward Dunne).  The IRA is led by Charlie Hurley then Vice-OC, Bandon Battallion, 3rd (West) Cork Brigade.  Sgt Flynn and Constable Dunne had been part of the successful defence of Timoleague Barracks in February.

Abbott (2000), pgs 75-76; Deasy (1973) pg 106

May-10 (or May-09)

Two RIC men (Sgt Patrick McDonnell and Constable Hayes) are attacked as they leave the railway station at Goold's Cross, Co. Tipperary on his way to the RIC Hut at Clonoulty.  Sgt McDonnell is killed.  The attack was carried out by two members of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Tipperary Brigade - Ned Reilly and Jack 'The Master' Ryan.  Constable  Hayes recognised the attackers.

Abbott (2000), pg 75; O'Malley (1982), pgs 11-12


IRA attack on Hollyford Barracks, Tipperary results in its destruction without capture of arms.  More Detail

Hopkinson (2002), pg 120; Breen (1989), pgs 107-110;  O'Malley (2001), pgs 9-26; O’Malley (1990), pgs 144-148


British Cabinet agrees to Macready's request for substantially extra transport and eight extra battalions.  He explains that his strategy will be based on Army mobility.  Churchill agrees to submit a proposal to cabinet for the raising of a special emergency Gendarmerie (see May 31st)

Townshend (1975), pg 84; Macardle (1999), pg 341; Bew (2016), pg 95


Three RIC men are attacked by the IRA in a tram in Lr Glanmire Road, Cork resulting in the death of two policemen (Sgt Denis Garvey and Constable Daniel Harrington). The IRA team was led by Patrick ‘Pa’ Murray.  The IRA believed that Sgt Garvey and Con Harrington were the men who actually pulled the triggers in the shooting of Tomás MacCurtain.

Abbott (2000), pg 76; Lawlor (2009) pg 36


The Fisher committee (see 18th April) reports and says that the Castle Administration is a shambles and recommends the appointment of a 'powerful civil servant'. See May 22nd  Comment by Fisher

Townshend (1975), pg 78 & Hopkinson (2002), pgs 59-60


Houses in Thurles fired and bombed by police

Macardle (1999), pg 353


The evacuated RIC barracks in Burnfoot, Co. Donegal is burnt by the Derry City IRA and an attempt is made to burn the Carrigans barracks the same night.  Also, the income tax office in Bishops St is raided and records burnt.  (The burning of evacuated barracks and income tax offices takes place later in Derry than in the rest of the country.)

Grant (2018), pgs 96-97


Frank Gleeson, from Fariview, Dublin dies of acute appendicitis – he had been one of the Mountjoy hunger strikers and had only been released from hospital on the 3rd May.  (He had fought in the Easter Rising.)

O’Farrell (1997), pg 108; Gallagher (1953), pg 198


Every member of the Dáil (not in prison) received a note through the post, on official Dáil notepaper, saying “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.  Therefore a life for a life.”

Gallagher (1953), pg 90


Major General Henry Hugh Tudor appointed Police Adviser to the Irish government.  Took over command of the police but did not take title of Chief of Police until RIC Inspector General Smith retired in November 1920.  (Macardle says May 22nd)

Townshend (1975), pg 81-83; Macardle (1999), pg 341


Detective Sergeant Denis Moroney was shot and killed during a riot in Derry. First RIC man killed in Ulster. Later, a Catholic ex-Soldier (Bernard [O’]Doherty) is shot dead when walking along Orchard St.  There is evidence of both IRA and UVF involvement in the riots and it is reported that police retreated from active engagement when unionists carrying weapons showed their strength.  Sporadic shootings and violence continues over the following weeks.

Abbott (2000), pg 77; Gallagher (2003), pg23; Parkinson (2004), pg 23; Grant (2018), 97; Ozseker (2019), pg 145; Gallagher (2003), pg 23



James Dalton from Clare St., Limerick is killed by the IRA as a spy.  (Dalton was a member of the IRA.)

O’Farrell (1997), pg 105; O’Callaghan (2018), pgs 88 & 91


Houses in Bantry, Co. Cork wrecked by police

Macardle (1999), pg 353


Frustrated at low wages, workers in the Cleeve-owned creamery in Knocklong, Co Limerick declare a soviet.  They hoisted a red flag and the Tricolour and declared that “We make butter not profits”.  After six days, their demands are met and they disband the soviet.

O’Callaghan (2018), pg 126


Dáil Minister of Agriculture sits in Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo dealing with a number of urgent land agitation questions.  1st public meeting of ‘Sinn Féin’ Arbitration Courts.

Macardle (1999), pg 348


Limerick City shot up by police

Macardle (1999), pg 353


Arthur Griffith holds a press conference in Dublin in which he displays the death notes which were received in the previous days by members of the Dáil.  He says that the Dáil note paper that they were printed on were removed by British forces from Dáil HQ in Harcourt St during a raid on the 11th November 1919.  Griffith goes on to accuse the British government in Ireland in being involved in the assassinations of elected representatives.

Gallagher (1953), pg 90


Two RIC men (Sgt Kyran Dunphy and Sgt Patrick Hearty) are shot and killed in Mallow St., Limerick by men from the B company of the Limerick City Battalion (Mid-Limerick Brigade) IRA under the leadership of Michael Hartney.

Abbott (2000), pgs 77-78


Kilcommon, Co. Tipperary shot up by police.

Macardle (1999), pg 353


IRA Volunteer Michael Malone killed in accidental shooting in Co. Clare.

Ó Ruairc (2009), pg 325


Dublin dockers decide that, in future, they would not handle 'war materials' - they are joined soon after by the ITGWU - in particular by the railway workers.  This strike lasts until December despite the sacking of many workers.

Townshend (1975), pg 69;Hopkinson (2002), pg 43; Gallagher (1953), pgs 200-201; Lawlor (2011), pgs 33-42


T. Dunne from Loughlinstown, Dublin dies as does P. Meany from Tomard, Co. Carlow.

O’Farrell (1997), pgs 107 & 113


Sir John Anderson who was earlier appointed Under-Secretary arrives in Dublin.  Technically, he is Joint Under Secretary with James MacMahon but according to Townshend quickly establishes himself as 'unquestioned chief'.   With Andy Cope and Mark Sturgis as Assistant Under Secretaries, the administration of Dublin Castle is overhauled.  Comment  

Curran J M (1980), pg36; Hopkinson (2002) pg 61; and Townshend (1975), pg 80


At a critical sitting of the republican land arbitration court in Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo, presided over by Kevin O’Shiel and Art O’Connor, the court decides in favour of the two men (Hyland and Murphy) who were renting the Fountain Hill farm (from the Magdalene Asylum in Galway) and against nine tenants who were occupying part of the land.  After the tenants maintained possession, three of them were arrested by the IRA and held on an island in Lough Corrib.  The tenants relented.  According to Price, after this case, “The decisions of the court were now accepted, sometimes reluctantly, by the people of the county and the nation”.

Price (2012), pgs 75-77


Loughgeorge RIC Barracks on the main Galway to Tuam road attacked by the IRA’s Galway No. 1 (Mid-Galway) brigade.  They were led by Martin Nyland, Nicholas Kyne and Michael Walsh.  Sean Broderick and Jim Furey also took part. They fail to capture the barracks. (O’Farrell says that attack was led by Seamus Murphy – but this is unlikely.)

McNamara (2018), pg 121; Henry (2012), pgs 34-36; O’Farrell (1997), pg 73


Kilmallock RIC barracks attacked by IRA led by 'Sean Forde' (Thomas Malone).  More Detail

Abbott (2000), pg 79-84; O’Donoghue (1986), pg131 & Hopkinson (2002), pg 119; Ryan (1945), pg 127 & pg 132; Harnett (2002), pgs 50-53; McCarthy in The Kerryman (1955), pgs 55-59; Brennan (1980), pgs 49-52; O’Farrell (1997), pg 53; Regan (2007), pg 164; O’Callaghan (2018), pg 79; Corbett (2008), pgs 60-61




Statement issued by Chief Commissioner of the DMP (W. E. Johnstone) in response to accusations made by Griffith on the 18th May saying that no “notepaper or any writing paper was removed from 76 Harcourt Street or taken possession of by police or by the military”.

Gallagher (1953), pg 90


James Saunders shot dead in Limerick.  The verdict at his inquest was that he was killed by the police (the 8th verdict of murder by police since the beginning of the year).

Macardle (1999), pg 347


Griffith issues a short statement in response to Johnstone’s statement of the 27th May saying that Dáil notepaper was seized by detectives on the raid on 76 Harcourt St on the 11th November 1919.  (See 10th September 1920.)

Gallagher (1953), pgs 90-91


Two men, Michael O’Toole and Martin Ferragher, continued to work on the estate of James Fitzgerald-Kenny near Clogher (outside Castlebar, Co. Mayo) after a boycott was called by locals who wanted Fitzgerald-Kenny to sell his land to local tenants.  On this night, on their way home from Downey’s Pub in Clogher, the two men were set on by a group of some 20 masked men and savagely beaten.  Both men died from the beating they received – O’Toole on the night he was attacked and Ferragher on the 17th June.  (Five men were brought to court on the 14th August.  Two of the five – Jeremiah Bourke and Pat Coleman – were returned to Sligo to await trial for the murder of O’Toole and Ferragher.  However, on the 7th October Bourke and Coleman are released in somewhat mysterious circumstances.) 

Price (2012), pgs 77-81


First meeting of British Cabinet with its new Irish officials.  Coogan claims that this meeting considered ways of making Irishmen "feel the effects of the campaigns of murder and arson along economic channels" and that this transformed into the policy of burning creameries, bacon factories and mills in reprisals. 

Bew says that Churchill had lost enthusiasm for his original proposal for an Emergency Gendarmarie but that “remarkably, two months later, with a statement from Tudor, the government adopted Churchill’s original proposal and began recruitment of a ‘special corps of gendarmarie, the auxiliary division’” – see July 23rd

Hopkinson (2002), pg 64; Coogan (1990), pg 143-144; Bew (2016), pg 95


Colonel Ormonde Winter appointed as Director of Intelligence and Deputy Chief of Police.

Townshend (1975), pg 82


Lieutenant-Colonel Walter Wilson appointed as Intelligence Officer for Dublin District Division of the British Army.  Other division and brigade I.O.s appointed over the coming months.

Townshend (1975), pg 91

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