Bomb thrown at Police in Foulksmills

Shortly before nine in the evening on Saturday the 19th of March 1921, four RIC constables left the safety of their barracks in Foulksmills to buy some necessities from Furlongs, the village’s grocers. The business was situated a short walk up the street from the RIC barracks. As the four officers were entering the shop a bomb was thrown at them from behind a large tree which stood in the center of the village. One of the constables, Dermot J Dunne, who was originally from Galway, was the last of the group to enter Furlongs and was just outside when the device exploded. He was wounded in the right shoulder and calf of the left leg. Although injured he managed to stagger into the safety of the shop where another constable closed the door behind him. Just then shotgun fire rang out with some of the pellets penetrating the door, fortunately though nobody was injured. The attackers fired several more shots before they made off in different directions. The police then took their wounded comrade back to the safety of their barracks.

Map showing location of RIC barracks, Furlongs shop and the tree. (Wexfordswarofiindependence)

The 20 or so customers inside Furlong’s during the attack were unharmed, attributed to one half of the double door being closed at the time of the explosion and absorbing many of the splinters, some of which embedded themselves in the wall outside. Mrs. Furlong herself had a lucky escape as she was holding the open half at the time of the explosion.

The former RIC barracks at Foulksmills (Google Street View)

After the attack rockets and verey lights sent up from the barracks illuminated the night sky and signaled for assistance. It was reported the rockets could be heard from Taghmon, 5 miles away and were visible in Wexford town, 14 miles away. The parish priest Michael Hickey Clongeen hurried to the barracks to minister to the wounded man. At 11 o clock military from New Ross arrived on the scene and a Dr. Hickey to administer treatment to the wounded officer, who was later removed to hospital in Dublin. The attack was condemned by Fr Hickey at mass in Clongeen on Sunday Morning. Earlier in December 1920 a large scale attack took place on the barracks in Foulksmills and it was regularly sniped or shot at in the six months prior to the Truce from January to June 1921.

The ambush was undertaken by members of D company (Adamstown) 1st Battalion; Thomas Furlong, James Furlong, Peter Jordon, M. McDonald. Today the Oak Tree pub occupies the premises which was Furlongs and amazingly the tree from behind which the IRA threw the bomb still stands to this day, a direct physical link to the event.

The site of the attack as it looks today with the Oak Tree (right) formally Furlongs, and the Tree (Left) from which the bomb was thrown (Google Street View)

Sources

Enniscorthy Guardian – Saturday 26 March 1921, p4

Irish Times, 26th March 1921, p5

South Wexford Brigade Activity Reports

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