Mícheál Walsh, patriot

Mícheál Walsh was a native of Headford who bought the Old Malt pub and grocery in High Street c1906. He was a Republican and a member of the Urban Council. He once proposed at a meeting that the idea of toll booths, of collecting tolls from people bringing goods into the city, should be extended to include the docks in order that they might levy any ships coming in to the docks, including Navy vessels. This was too much for his fellow (Unionist ) councillor Joe Young, who protested, “Sure if that was the way, no British naval vessel would ever come in to the docks.” “I rest my case,” said Mr Walsh.

As a well-known Sinn Feiner, his house was raided a few times and bombed. He had lodged an application for £11,000 for malicious damage to his shop and goods. His wife was threatened and warned that they were looking for Mícheál. On Tuesday night, October 19, 1920, just before 10pm, there were five customers in the pub being served by Mícheál and his assistant Martin Meenaghan. According to Martin, “About three minutes to 10 five men wearing civilian clothes and waterproof coats and carrying revolvers in their hands entered the shop. Two of them wore soft hats pulled down over their faces and one wore something like a red handkerchief partly across his face. Speaking with English accents, they said it was time to close the shop. They ordered the people out and closed the door after them.

“They then went to the till and took all the money. They went to the cashbox and took whatever was in it. They went to the safe, which was broken the last time the house was raided, and took whatever was there. They also took cigarettes and other things including tobacco. I saw one of them putting a bottle of Oxo in his pocket. They told Mícheál that he would be dead within an hour and they denied him access to a priest. ‘You have shot a lot of police,’ one said, and Mícheál said, ‘If I was as free of everything as the shooting of police, I would be all right’.” Four of them left with the boss and one stayed behind with Martin.

They brought Mícheál along Long Walk where they shot him with one shot into the temple and dumped the body in the river. His body was discovered the following morning and he was brought to his house. When the remains were removed to the Pro-Cathedral on Thursday evening, they were accompanied by an armoured car, a squadron of Dragoon Guards, and a party of armed constabulary lined the main street to the funeral. The funeral itself was limited to the clergy and 50 persons including relatives. Military and police were stationed at the Pro-Cathedral and along the streets at several points, the Dragoon Guards with drawn sabres lining the way on either side along the route to the new cemetery. An armoured car also followed the funeral.

In the House of Commons on October 21, Sir Hamar Greenwood said: “There is no such force as the Auxiliary police in Galway or elsewhere in Ireland. There are members of the auxiliary division of the Royal Irish Constabulary. These men are all ex-officers, and I will not accept, except on the clearest and most conclusive proof, the allegation that any of these officers now serving in the auxiliary division are guilty of murder. Every effort is being made to ascertain the identity of the murderers.”

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