A group of transition-year students in Kenmare, Co Kerry, have discovered a new piece of history that rewrites the conclusion of Ireland’s War of Independence. The students, while conducting research for their transition year project, found that the final act of the War of Independence took place in Killarney, and not in Tipperary as originally thought.
The Belfast Telegraph reports that the students from Kenmare’s Pobalscoil Inbhear Sceine discovered the new documentary evidence while working alongside local senator Mark Daly for their transition year project. Daly recommended that the group conduct research on Lieutenant Denis Tuohy, a local hero from Gortalassa who was killed in May 1921.
Daly said that, "The idea behind it was to get the British army's account.” The students, however, found much more than what they were originally looking for.
The students drafted a letter to First Battalion Royal Fusiliers, City of London Regiment, that was based in Kerry between 1920 and 1922.
Upon reading the archive, the students made an important discovery that realigned the final act of the War. They discovered that the final act of the War did not in fact take place in Tipperary, but rather in Killarney, just miles away from where the students attend school.
The students found that a mere 15 minutes before the official cease-fire came into effect, Sergeant C E Meares, and his colleague Sgt F G Clarke walked into town to purchase some goods where they were met by an ambush.
According to the records unearthed by the students, “On arriving at the centre of the town they [the sergeants] were held up and shot in cold blood by about half-a-dozen citizens with revolvers. Sgt Meares died of his wounds the next day, but Sgt Clarke is now happily, recovered."
Had the sergeant been only minutes later, he would have survived the War.
Edited by JP Kelleher, the fusiliers' archive concluded that "It is accurate to say that the action by the volunteers in Killarney was the last ambush."
The Belfast Telegraph writes that in the Royal Fusiliers’ version of events were that the British were outnumbered 10 to 1 by the IRA Volunteers, with 280 volunteers. However, the truth is that there were only 27 volunteers.
The exciting discovery has spurred some of the students’ own interest in Irish history. 16 year old Annie Cooper told The Belfast Telegraph that her involvement with the project has strengthened her interest in history.