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The Ambush of Capt. Pat Cove

The following is a brief account of the shooting death of free state officer Pat Coye at Feale Bridge in January, 1923. Later that fatal day in the ongoing battle a member of the attacking Republican party Jerry Lyons was shot dead at Mein.

Capt. P. Coye left Brosna Barracks at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, 27th January 1923, with five other soldiers and travelled towards Abbeyfeale. When they approached a bend on the road at Kilmanihan East, fire was opened on them from about 100 yards away with rifles and machine guns from the side of a cliff. After about ten minutes they were surrounded and machine guns were turned on them from behind. Darcy, one of the soldiers, was wounded and when called on to surrender, Capt. Coye said he would not surrender and told Darcy to say his prayers. He shouted also the First Westerns never surrender. He then fell and when asked if he was shot he made no reply. John Keogh and Bartly Carrig, two of his comrades, were also wounded.

Before the ambush part of the Feale Bridge was blown up and guarded by a party of I.R.A. men, under the command of Jerry O'Leary, on the Kerry side of the bridge. Brosna barracks was also sniped during the attack to prevent assistance reaching the ambushed patrol.

After the surrender of the soldiers the attackers, under the command of Humphrey Murphy retreated towards Castleisland via the Meenleitrim road. Sometime later, word was sent to Capt. Fallon who was travelling from Newcastle West to Listowel. He collected a few men from the post at Abbeyfeale and went in the direction of the ambush. When he reached Feale Bridge he saw that it had been blown up and covered by heavy rifle fire from the Listowel side. He succeeded however in crossing the river and was joined by Capt. Con Brosnan. They fired some shots at the retreating I.R.A. men. Capt. Fallon and his companion Capt. Mortel commandeered a horse and side car, donned two women's shawls and drove along on the side car towards Meenleitrim. They caught up with the retreating men near Meenleitrim Bog.

Capt. Fallon then rested his rifle o the ditch and fired at them. At this stage young Denny O'Connor was shot dead and Jerry Lyons was wounded on his hip. The dead body of Denny O'Connor was then taken to Abbeyfeale.

Jerry Lyons and a number of hostages were then taken to Abbeyfeale. Lyons was questioned by the army at Abbeyfeale and was later removed to hospital. The body of Capt. Coye was later taken to Limerick and then to Craughwell by train, from where it was taken to Loughrea Cathedral. He was buried in Kilchriest Cemetery.

The late Capt. Coye was connected to the volunteer movement. He was an enthusiastic worker in the cause of Sinn Fein and following the rising he was interned with his two brothers at Frongoch. During the Anglo Irish War he held the rank of Brigade Quarter Master in the I.R.A. and was much sought after by the Black and Tans who raided his fathers house frequently. He had a number of hair breath escapes from them. After 1920 he represented the Kilconieran electoral division on the Loughroa District Council. Upon the formation of the National Army he was appointed Captain in the Western Divison and held many important commands in Co. Galway. He was later transferred to Ennis and subsequently took command o the forces at Newcastle West. From there he was sent to Brosna. He was only a few months at Brosna when the ambush took place.

from Knocknagoshel Then and Now, No. 11, 1994

Thanks to Ray Marshall for contributing this!


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