Search

16 Aug 2022

Council to commemorate 100th anniversary of the Drumboe Martyrs

Unanimous backing for plan

Council to commemorate 100th anniversary of the Drumboe Martyrs

Cllr Patrick McGowan at the site where the Drumboe Martyrs were executed. He wants the memorial and surrounding areas developed

Moves have been put in place to mark the 100th anniversary of the execution of the Drumboe Martyrs.

The idea received the unanimous backing of councillors at today's (Wednesday) meeting of the Lifford-Stranorlar Municipal District.

It was proposed by cathaoirleach, Cllr Patrick McGowan who said he was honoured to do this as his first act in his new term of office.

On March 14, 1923, just six weeks before the end of the Civil War, four anti-Treaty Republicans were executed by a Free State firing squad in Drumboe, Stranorlar. They were: Charles Daly (26), Knockane, Firies Co Kerry; Daniel Enwright (23), Patrick Street, Listowel, Co Kerry; Timothy O'Sullivan (23), Patrick Street, Listowel, Co Kerry and Sean Larkin (26), Ballagherty, Magherfelt, Co Derry.

They were marched from their cell at Drumboe Castle to an improvised firing range about 300 yards up a gently sloping field.

You can see the spot today thanks to the erection of a limestone Celtic high cross-style monument back in 1955.

Cllr McGowan said it was important to commemorate the anniversary.

"The Civil War, a period, that can be described as probably one of the saddest and most tragic chapters of Irish history, witnessing many unnecessary deaths.

"It's important we also acknowledge and learn from the past. The field where the monument to the men is will be developed into a town park but I want to make sure this piece is preserved and in consultation with all interested parties, find a way to preserve this Celtic cross as a solemn historic artefact. It is part of the heritage and social history of the local area,” he said.

The story behind the Drumboe Martyrs

As mentioned next year will be the 100th anniversary of the execution of the Drumboe Martyrs but how did events that led to their deaths come about?

On March 14 1923, just six weeks before the end of the Civil War, four anti-Treaty Republicans were executed by a Free State firing squad in Drumboe, Stranorlar.

They were:

Charles Daly (26), Knockane, Firies Co Kerry;
Daniel Enwright (23), Patrick Street, Listowel, Co Kerry;
Timothy O'Sullivan (23), Patrick Street, Listowel, Co Kerry
and Sean Larkin (26), Ballagherty, Magherfelt, Co Derry.

The Civil War, a period, that can be described as probably one of the saddest and most tragic chapters of Irish history, witnessed many unnecessary deaths.

The irony of this period was that this time the war was against former comrades who were now for or against partition.

Some of these men had fought shoulder to shoulder through years of struggle against a common enemy, the British Army or the Black and Tans, who were now pitched in battle against each other in a war that divided families and friends in succeeding generations.

The story goes how on the night of November 2, 1922, following a tip-off from an informer, Free State forces from Falcarragh surrounded two houses belonging to John and Frank Sharkey at Mennabul, Dunlewey, not far from Errigal mountain.

The Drumboe Martyrs: Daly, Larkin, Enright, and O'Sullivan

There they found Daly, Enright, O'Sullivan, and Larkin along with six others. The men were arrested before being taken to Drumboe Castle, where they were held for five months. On January 18, 1923, they received their sentence from a Military Court. The four young men were sentenced to death by firing squad.

They were marched from their cell at Drumboe Castle to an improvised firing range about 300 yards up a gently sloping field beside the woods.

You can see the spot today thanks to the erection of a limestone Celtic high cross-style monument back in 1955.

It was at this spot that the four men were executed by a Free State firing squad and their bodies were thrown into a ready-made grave.

When their bodies were eventually removed from Drumboe in the dead of night and without telling their relatives in August 1924 their grave was never filled in and is possibly the only grave of its kind in Ireland or perhaps even in the world.

They were taken to Athlone's Custom Barracks for re-interment. The free State Army refused to officially confirm or deny the removal of any bodies until several weeks later when letters were sent to relatives of men executived during the Civil War.

The bodies of the Drumboe martyrs were eventually released on October 28, 1924 and received by family and relatives before being reinterred for a third time in their final resting places in their home counties of Derry and Kerry.

In all, approximately 4,000 lives were lost in the Civil War between June 1922 and May 1923. Officially, there were 77 executions carried out by former comrades at various sites around the country, between 17 May 1922 and 2 May 1923, and Drumboe was one such event.

The monument in Drumboe now serves as a solemn historic artefact commemorating this horrific event during the tragedy that was the Irish Civil War, and it is an addition to the built heritage and social history of the local area.

A second monument was erected on Main Street, Stranorlar. It was unveiled by a Miss Treasa McGeehin from Fintown in August, 1958.

The martyrs are also remembered in many songs and poems dedicated to them including The Green Woods of Drumboe by Mountcharles man, Eamonn Monaghan and Drumboe Martyrs by Michael McGinley.

To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.


Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.