Epilogue -- The War Continues: Part 8, Trauma at The Burgery

Two months after the ambush at the Burgery, on the 18th of May, the body of Pat Keating was disinterred for burial in Kilrossanty, at the request of his family.

Above: In the front, left to right, are Tommy Boyle, George Lennon, Michael Foley. In the rear are John Power, Fr. Tom Power, and Dr. Joe Walsh.

Lena Keating remembered:

My father, Willie, Thomas and Michael, accompanied by members of the Old I.R.A., Mick Mansfield, George Lennon, Ned and Paddy Joe Power and local Volunteers, took up the remains which they carried across the Mahon river, through Crough Wood and on to the Crough road where Fr. Sheehy C.C., Marcella, Bridget, Margaret, my mother, Willie’s wife Mary, Tom Cunningham and myself were waiting. (98)

The mourners reached Kilrossanty, where the grave had been already prepared in a new plot.

Fr. Sheehy blessed the coffin and led the prayers for the dead. The grave was then covered over with gravel so that it could not be distinguished from the surrounding gravel paths. Finally, a volley of shots was fired over Pat Keating’s last resting place by members of the Old I.R.A. ... The family went back home to Comeragh that night a little happier that Pat was safely back home. (99)

The family had fulfilled the stated wish of Pat’s childhood friend Sean Fitzgerald to be "alongside” him.  The two Comeragh rebels were now, in the words of Pat’s poem, joined forever at “the village Church close by ... Comeragh’s rugged hills.” (100)

Read Part 7: The Aftermath: Reprisals

The two-month effort to maintain secrecy regarding the location of Pat's remains must surely have reminded Lennon of the death, a year earlier at Kilmallock, of Liam Scully, who had also been struck down in his presence and secretly buried at midnight. (101)

As described by Mick Mansfield, the burial, however, did not signal the end of this long ordeal:

Immediately after the interment, we got word that one of our men belonging to the Kilmacthomas Coy. had been shot in the village. George Lennon, Paddy Joe Power and I decided to go to Kilmacthomas to investigate the occurrence. We travelled in a pony trap with two Cumann na mBan girls named Cullinan (sisters) from Kilmacthomas. Lennon, Power and myself carried rifles. (102)

Aware of a British presence in the area, four unarmed scouts on bicycles were sent ahead. Unknown to the main party, the scouts had run into the enemy and been captured. The Mansfield party approached to within two miles of Kilmacthomas at Faha Bridge (Grawn) and

drove right into a column of British soldiers, about 200 strong, who were advancing in file along the road from Kilmacthomas ...The military surrounded the trap with bayonets fixed and, realising our predicament, we “made a break for it.” (103)

 (Below: British soldiers searching a car during the Irish War of Independence.)

Mansfield, followed by Lennon, jumped out of the trap and over a fence. Initially taking Lennon for a pursuer, Mansfield only narrowly avoided shooting his friend. He then “clubbed a soldier with ... (his) rifle butt and made off in the darkness into a boggy field,” where he was soon up to his waist in bog water.  At that point

The soldiers seemed to be panic stricken and commenced firing wildly in the darkness. Lennon and I waded through the bog until we reached the railway line about 200 yards inland from the road. Meanwhile, the soldiers tried following us through the bog, having failed, they doubled around and up to the railway line hoping to cut us off. However we succeeded in escaping them in the darkness. (104)

Power was not so lucky as he “got stuck in the bog on the far side and was captured.” A prior neck wound, sustained at Ballylynch, was reopened when  “he was brutally beaten up.”  Reportedly sentenced to death, he developed a fever that “strangely enough saved his life” because he was placed in a British military hospital to recuperate. Mary Cullinan was caught in the pony and trap with a rifle hidden under her coat and arrested, along with her sister Katie, Ned Power, Willie Keating and his wife and Tom Cunningham. Mary was sentenced to six-months imprisonment, and the others were released after being held for approximately a week. (105)

Pictured are four members of the Waterford IRA at an unidentified location. Left to right are Michael Cummins, Thomas Keating, unidentified and Jack Tobin.

In that Paddy Joe and the others were being held in Paddy Paul’s Brigade area, Lennon summoned Paul to Cutteen House, at the base of the Comeraghs, to ask him to organise a rescue attempt. Paul promised to do what he could, but noted “until I had examined the possibilities I could not say how we would operate.” Once he had established “a means of communication with the prisoners inside,” the East Waterford men were informed of the times allotted to the prisoners for exercise. Based on this information, a plan was formulated to throw a rope over the prison wall at a designated time. But “something had gone wrong on the inside” and after “having waited a reasonable time” the men on the outside “had to go away as ... their activities in daylight would be observed.” (106)

Paul, many years later, referred to  “this incident as another example of co-operation between the two Waterford Brigades....” Tellingly, he further commented that “even though it was unsuccessful, it showed that we were willing to co-operate as far as we could”. (Italics added). (107)

The monument to Seán Fitzgerald and Pat Keating at the site of the Burgery ambush, on N-25, north of Dungarvan.

Due, in part, to the perception that Brigade #1 “hasn’t done much,” the two Waterford brigades were combined, as part of the First Southern Division, sometime after the 11 July 1921 truce. To the four West Waterford Battalions -- Dungarvan (#1), Lismore (#2), Ardmore / Old Parish (#3), and Kilrossanty (#4) -- were added the three East Waterford Battalions -- Kilmeadan / Ballyduff/Portlaw (#5), Gaultier / Dunmore East / Passage (#6), and Sliabh Gua (#7). The combined brigade had a definite Dungarvan leadership bias with O/C Whelan, Vice O/C Lennon, and Adjutant Phil O’Donnell. Jack O’Mara was appointed to head the Seventh Battalion (Sliabh Gua) and Paul was appointed County Waterford Deputy I.R.A. liaison officer under Lennon. (108)

Earlier, most likely in June, in accordance with Plunkett’s recommendation, (109) the flying column, under Lennon, was augmented by approximately a dozen men from East Waterford, including “training officer” Paul.

In conjunction with other factors, the reorganisation, with its demotion of East Waterford officers, was to have repercussions when, as noted by Lennon:

Early in 1922, after the elapse of 750 years, it was our proud privilege to enter the city with native troops and take it back for the Irish nation. (110)

(Below: A Sinn Fein postcard from the period.)


98. Keating, op. cit.

99.  Ibid.

100. Ibid.

101.     Lennon, Trauma in Time, p. 23.

102. Mansfield, op. cit., p. 26.

103. Ibid.

104. Ibid., pp. 26 - 27.  

         Murphy, op. cit., p. 103.

105. Mansfield, op. cit., p. 27.

         Murphy, op. cit., p. 103.

106. Paddy Paul Witness Statement 877 (Rathmines: Cathal Brugha

         Barracks, 13 July 1953), pp. 30 – 31.

107.  Ibid., p. 32.   

108. Murphy, op. cit., pp. 105 – 106.   

         O’Malley, op. cit., p. 212.

109. Lennon, Trauma in Time. p. 47.

110.  Ibid., pp. 50 – 53.

         Murphy, op. cit., p. 106.


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Comment by That's Just How It Was on March 1, 2016 at 8:15am

I love the illustration of the lady on the horse ; in green white and gold 


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