In November 1920, Jimmy Folan, aged 20, of O’Donoghue Terrace, Woodquay, was sentenced by court martial to six months imprisonment with hard labour for acting as a republican policeman and possessing seditious documents – one of which blamed the local RIC for the killings of Seamus Quirk and Seán Mulvoy. Having served his time, he was released on May 10, 1921. That evening, a benevolent RIC sergeant warned a local volunteer to tell Jimmy ‘not to be at home tonight’.
In the early hours of the following morning, three armed men with blackened faces and wearing goggles, waterproofs, and civilian caps arrived at Folan’s house looking for Jimmy. They entered the house and searched it thoroughly but to no avail. They then went into a bedroom where Jimmy’s brothers, Christy aged 17 and Joe aged 23, had been sleeping. They fired several shots at Christy and left. Minutes later, they returned to the bedroom where Joe was holding a lamp over his brother to see if he was dead or alive. They fired several more shots, wounding Joe in the neck and shoulders. When they left, Joe was rushed to hospital. Christy, who had worked as a labourer in the Galway Woollen Mills, was buried just days before his 18th birthday. All of the shops in town remained closed on the day of the funeral. During the burial, members of the Crown Forces removed the tricolour that had been wrapped around the coffin, from the graveside.
That same night, a number of masked men called to the house of railway worker Thomas Carew at 35 St Bridget’s Terrace around 1.30am. Carew answered the door and was told “It is Tully we want,” referring to his work colleague and lodger Hugh Tully. Carew lit a candle and went upstairs to wake Tully, accompanied by one of the intruders who ‘had a red handkerchief or cloth over the lower part of his face, wore goggles, a bright tweed cap and a grey civilian overcoat'. Tully was told he did not need to get dressed so he went downstairs in his nightshirt. He was met at the foot of the stairs by three or four men with their revolvers drawn. When he confirmed his name, he was shot a number of times. As he lay injured, one of the men came towards him, fired two or three more shots and killed him. The intruders then left. Tully had worked as a foreman in the goods store of the railway station and had quietly facilitated the movement of arms through there.
On the same night, the house of Malachy Fitzpatrick, a painter who lived on Bohermore, was raided at about 2am by four armed men. Fortunately, he escaped, dressed only in his nightshirt with his trousers wrapped around his neck.
Earlier on that fateful day, RIC Constable Jack Kelly warned a 19-year old Volunteer named James Traynor from Prospect Hill not to stay at home that night, advising him that the safest place to be was in the attic of the constable’s house. Though initially suspicious, Traynor took him up on the offer. Late that night, following the murders of Folan and Tully, members of the Crown Forces called on Constable Kelly and stayed drinking in his kitchen, not realising he was harbouring an IRA volunteer overhead.
Our sincere thanks to Maura Folan for today’s photograph of (A ) Jimmy Folan, (B ) a very young Christy Folan, and thanks to Willie Henry for photograph (C ) of James Traynor. All of the above comes from a forthcoming book entitled The War of Independence in Galway, researched and written by Brendan McGowan and published by Galway City Museum as part of Galway City Council's Decade of Centenaries programme. It includes a foreword by Professor Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, is a limited edition, not for sale to the public but which will shortly be available in hardcopy format at all local branch libraries throughout the county and will be a free downloadable resource from the museum’s website. [email protected]. Highly recommended.