A Near Miss At Dunanore

In spring 1918, prior to the War of Independence, what maybe considered, the ‘first attempted IRA ambush in Wexford’, occurred in the townland of Dunanore, between Bree and Enniscorthy. The ambush was planned for a party of R.I.C police vacating Galbally Barracks and whom were being driven to Enniscorthy in a ‘long car’.

Galbally R.I.C Barracks (now a private residence) Source: Google Streetview

Twenty three men, armed with ‘shotguns and small arms’, lay in wait along a stretch of road referred to as ‘the Dungeon Road’. This was described as ‘very dark and overhung with rocks with the river Boro on the other side’. After waiting for several hours word arrived that the police had travelled another road and subsequently missed the awaiting ambush. Michael Kirwan in his witness statement was under the impression that the police may have uncovered news of their plans and decided to travel a different route.

Map of ambush showing probable I.R.A position and route of police patrol

Despite the lack of any physical engagement the ambush site is worth studying. Based on the previous given description of the ‘Dungeon road’ a stretch (of road) south of the river Boro between Ballynapierce Bridge and Victoria Bridge can be identified as the probable IRA position (See map). At this point on the map the road becomes enclosed; flanked by the rover Boro on the north and overhanging rock on the south, which would have given the ambush party the higher ground over the police. Additionally, any vehicles approaching this location coming west, from Galbally, would have had to first round a bend in the road, therefore causing a delayed view of any potential dangers ahead. It would have provided an element of surprise for the IRA. The site has changed little today and passing through, over 100 years since the time of the event, you can still get a sense of why those men chose this location.

The Dungeon road as it looks today. Note high rock on one side (Source: Google Streetview)

Sources: Bureau of Military History Withness Statement,Michael Kirwan (IRA), Enniscorthy, Co.Wexford. #1175

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