Home » Ambush Agony As Volunteers Lay Dead

Ambush Agony As Volunteers Lay Dead

by Jimmy Rhatigan

There was a certain irony about a Sunday morning
ceremony in memory of two local men who were felled by Crown Forces at another time.

Because of Covid-19 restrictions the get-together to pay tribute to fallen heroes was confined to a party of eight, including relatives of volunteers who were shot dead.

One hundred years ago to the day an ambush on English Military went horribly wrong.

The locals lay in wait on February 21, a century ago as soldiers from the Devonshire Regiment escorted rations to nearby Kilkenny Gaol.

The surprise attack was planned by the leaders of Kilkenny IRA.

Volunteers from outside the city were selected for the dangerous mission.

Their orders were not to shoot the soldiers but to disarm the English and confiscate any documents that might have been of use to the IRA.

Tom Kiernan and Daithi Holohan


The order not to discharge weapons made the ambush a particularly hazardous one.

The operation took a turn for the worst for the IRA as two of their men were engaged in combat with British Soldiers at the rear of the guard party.

A local woman screamed.

‘The soldiers are being attacked’, was her cry.

All hell broke loose, soldiers started firing and two local volunteers fell to the ground.

Dead were Threecastles, County Kilkenny fighters Thomas Hennessy and Michael Dermody.
Innocent bystander, Thomas Dullard was killed by a stray bullet.

The Friary Street Ambush in the shadow of the Capuchin Friary Church, an operation that was supposed to go without a pistol being discharged, claimed three lives, all of them local.

As pandemonium reigned, comrades of the Threecastles warriors, now outnumbered, scattered and mingled with locals in a desperate bid to avoid being arrested.

Siobhan Bergin (nee Dermody), Patricia Bergin and Noel Bergin


They made it out of the city without being captured and lived to fight another day.

Locals who took part in the ambush also came from Bennettsbridge and Kells.

Among those paying tribute and helping to lay wreaths at a memorial monument were relatives of the fallen, Patricia Bergin (nee Dermody), and Siobhan Bergin and Noel Bergin.

Down through the years, the volunteers who were shot have never been forgotten.

A killer virus that has already claimed over 4,000 lives was not to prove an obstacle as the small but loyal team of sympathisers observed public health and safety rules including social distancing.

The story of the Friary Street Ambush was read by Kilkenny man, Jim Hayes.

Eddie Kennedy, Mary and Eddie Hayes

Related Articles