Major Theme - {title}
County Clare placed under military control
A rowdy street scene during the East Clare by-election in 1917 Photo: National Library of Ireland, Ke 146

County Clare placed under military control

Ennis, 5 March 1918 - County Clare is now, for all intents and purposes, subject to martial law.

This state has been brought about by new military orders issued in response to agrarian, political and social unrest – instances include cattle driving, land seizures, shooting affrays and the raiding of houses for arms.

Alongside an increased military presence, a new regime effectively cuts the county off from the rest of Ireland; permits are now required to enter the county and all private letters and telegrams entering and leaving the county will be subject to censorship.

A special staff is being set up in Limerick to carry out this work.

Brigadier-General Burnett is the Competent Military Authority for the area and his order restricting access in and out of Clare also prohibits drilling, meetings, assemblies, processions, and the wearing of uniforms.

Attempts to identify incidences of lawlessness in the county with Sinn Féin have been rejected by, among others, the local party itself.

Rev. W. O’Kennedy, speaking at meeting of the East Clare Sinn Féin Executive, accused a hostile press, notably the Freeman’s Journal and the Irish Times, of trying to saddle a recent robbery of a bank manager on Sinn Féiners by innuendo, even though they had no sympathy with such outlaw work.

Speaking to the Cork Examiner, Bishop Fogarty also rejected the suggestion that the problems of Clare were political in character and expressed puzzlement at the presence of military men who arrived in their ‘panoply of war to find they had neither trenches to dig nor a riot to quell’.

For instance, cattle driving was not peculiar to Clare and it existed in Ireland long before the Sinn Féin movement began, the Bishop observed.

Not only that, some of the most determined cattle drivers were opponents of Sinn Féin. Clare’s troubles were social: ‘It is simply a revolt of the poorer peasants against the economic scandal of dead ranches, of which we have some glaring instances in Clare... It is not martial law, but sympathetic and enlightened government that will terminate effectively social grievances of this kind.’

Meanwhile, the Clare County Council has passed a resolution of sympathy with the family of John Ryan, who was shot and killed in an affray with police at Carrickfergus. An inquest into his death is ongoing.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.