On the 31st of March 1921 Mr. Oriel Richard Lee, a petty sessions clerk for Oulart courthouse, had been busy issuing dog licenses from his office in Killagowan. Usually such business would be conducted inside the courthouse but Mr Lee had been working from his father’s residence ever since the courthouse building was sold earlier that year. Throughout the day he was aided in his work by RIC constable Patrick Eger of Oulart Barracks. Shortly after 8 in the evening both men decided to retire for the night and went onto the kitchen to have a cup of tea. Oriels parents, Samuel and Sara, as well as a neighbor, Richard Robinson, were also present in the house at the time. The men were just finished their brew and getting ready to part their own way when at about 9 o clock a knock was heard at the door. Oriel, likely assuming it was a late dog license caller, decided to answer it and those inside heard the words, ‘Hands Up’, and then knew that this was a raid. A single shot rang out from the Hallway and in response constable Eger fired two shots from his own revolver in the direction of the raiders who then fled the scene. While the constable stayed on the premises Mr. Robinson then went to the barracks for help. Twenty minutes later Oriel Lee staggered into the room covered in blood and managed to sit into a chair before collapsing onto the floor. Initially he was unrecognizable to either the constable or his parents until he was searched and identified by his belongings. It was discovered he had been shot during the incident. Despite the efforts of doctors his wounds were beyond any help they could offer and by the following morning Oriel had died.
A revolver was later found outside containing 6 bullets, one of which had been discharged. The South Wexford Brigade’s report on the incident states the raid was carried out by a Thomas Cullen and Thomas Cosgrave from E company to seize the dog license money. The presence of the RIC constable on the premises was most likely unexpected and the subsequent fire fight resulted in the death of Oriel Lee. He was only 31 years of age at the time and as well as his duties as a court clerk he also worked on the family farm. Both his parents were elderly while his father was blind. They were later awarded £1000 compensation for the death of their son. Later that year in October Oriels father, Samuel would pass away at the age of 69 and both he and Oriel are buried in Kilnamanagh Church graveyard.
E.O’ Halpin and D. Ó Corráin (2020) ‘The Dead of the Irish Revolution’, Yale University Press, p368
Enniscorthy Guardian – Saturday 22 October 1921
New Ross Standard – Friday 08 April 1921 p2
New Ross Standard – Friday 17 June 1921 p6
South Wexford Brigade Activity Reports