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The I.R.A. and its EnemiesViolence and Community in Cork, 1916-1923$
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Peter Hart

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208068

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208068.001.0001

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The Kilmichael Ambush

The Kilmichael Ambush

(p.21) 2 The Kilmichael Ambush
The I.R.A. and its Enemies

Peter Hart

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the Kilmichael ambush, showing how difficult it is to categorize acts of violence or give them moral and military coherence. On November 28 1920, the flying column of the West Cork Brigade ambushed a police patrol near the village of Kilmichael. Three Volunteers and seventeen Auxiliary cadets, members of an elite anti-I.R.A. force, were killed. The Kilmichael ambush delivered a big blow to the British system, showing that guerrillas could beat British officers in the field. On December 1, the Cabinet decided that martial law would be introduced wherever necessary. In Ireland, the Kilmichael ambush became the most celebrated victory of rebel arms. Tom Barry, the column commander, became a folk hero and a revolutionary celebrity. Kilmichael was a brilliant ambush but it turned into a massacre, similar to the world of disappearances and revenge killings of the shootings on White Street and Broad Lane.

Keywords:   Kilmichael ambush, West Cork Brigade, police patrol, Tom Barry, Auxiliary cadets

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