Former British Solider Shot in Enniscorthy

In late 1920 the IRA in Enniscorthy became suspicious of possible informers operating within the town after three of their men were arrested over a short period of time. It was decided to send a warning to two individuals whom they suspected of being spies, named Foley and Newsome. The latter, Fredrick Newsome, had previously served in the British army. He was 21 years old and lived at number 7 John Street with his parents,

One night, both men were standing at ‘Coffey’s Corner’ in the market square when they were approached by several IRA men. Newsome was escorted a few doors down Slaney Street and given a stern warning that if he continued to inform he would be shot!. While this was happening a patrol of RIC police and black and tans was making their way up from the bottom of Slaney Street. This caught the IRA men by surprise and Newsome used the opportunity to run and escape. As he fled his captures they took aim with their revolvers and fired, but fortunately for Newsome they missed and he made good his escape. Meanwhile the police patrol upon hearing the commotion fired upon the IRA , who then fired back. After a brief exchange the police retreated under gunfire and the IRA made their escape down castle hill. They headed to the mental asylum where they hide in the laundry room for the night. Newsome later informed on his attackers and their houses were subsequently raided.

View of Slaney Place where Newsome was shot as it looks today (Google Street View)

Following on from this incident Newsome was tried in his absence by an IRA court-martial on the charge of being a spy. He was found guilty and sentenced to death. John Carroll in his witness statement to the bureau of military history states that he received orders from his Brigade officer commanding to execute Newsome. John Carroll, together with another man named John lacey, would carry out the sentence the on the 8th of February 1921. On that particular evening Fredrick Newsome, accompanied by a friend named Maurice Waters, were making their way back into town after an evening stroll out past Templeshannon way. They were coming their way back over the old bridge and rounding the corner along Slaney Place when Lacey and Carroll, who had been awaiting Newsomes’s arrival, shot him twice. After this both shooters casually made their escape up Slaney Street. It was reported that after the first shot one of them remarked ‘put another one in him (Newsome)’. Although Newsome was shot he managed to raise himself back onto his feet and attempted to make his way towards the police barracks, on the opposite end of the abbey square. He could be heard shouting in agony ‘Murder’ and ‘Help’ as he struggled to reach the barracks. Waters ran ahead to seek help. Along the way he met two individuals, whom he asked for assistance in getting a doctor and priest. Surprisingly they refused to do so, perhaps in fear of what might happen to them if they interfered in a local IRA operation. Eventually the police heard the commotion outside and saw Newsome attempting to make his way across the abbey square before collapsing on the ground. Both himself and his friend were brought inside the barracks. Newsome was then transferred to the towns workhouse to receive further medical attention, but his wounds were beyond any help which the doctors could offer and he died just before 5 the following morning, the 9th of February 1921.

The entrance to Carrig graveyard just outside Enniscorthy. (Credit: Wexfordfilmlocations.ie)

Newsome’s funeral took place a day later, on the 10th of February 1921. The military gave notice to shopkeepers and other business in the town to shut as a mark of respect. He was buried in St. Johns graveyard, often referred to as Carrig graveyard, located just south of Enniscorthy town on the western side of the Slaney River. His father was later awarded £150 compensation with £4 towards expenses. In enquiries that followed after Maurice Waters wrongly identified a Thomas Roche of Temple Shannon (Who had taken part in the previous attempt on Newsome’s life) as one of the gunmen. A month later though Roche would be involved in the killing of the Skelton brothers near Bunclody.

Sources

E.O’ Halpin and D. Ó Corráin (2020) ‘The Dead of the Irish Revolution’, Yale University Press, 295–296

Bureau of Military History Witness Statement, John Carroll #1258

Bureau of Military History Witness Statement, Thomas Dwyer #1198

Bureau of Military History Witness Statement, Thomas Doyle #1040

E.O’ Halpin and D. Ó Corráin (2020) ‘The Dead of the Irish Revolution’, Yale University Press, 295–296

The Enniscorthy Guardian, 12th February 1921, p4 and 7.

One Reply to “Former British Solider Shot in Enniscorthy”

  1. I read all with great interest but particularly the second story of a James Dunne shot by a drunken policeman in Ferns. We have many James Dunnes in our family from Enniscorthy and often baptised in Ferns also Bolgers who have witnessed our marriages and baptisms – however that is back in the 1850/60s…… I will now have to work my way forward to descendants …… as my James Dunne went from Enniscorthy to Dublin

    Like

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