The death of General Liam Lynch from a fatal bullet wound
inflicted by Free State forces on the morning of April 10th,
1923 as he retreated with members of his army staff to avoid
an encirclement movement to capture him in the Knockmealdown
mountains above Goatenbridge, heralded the end of the tragic
civil war that divided the Irish nation. Lynch was Chief
of staff of Republican forces in a war he did all in his
power to prevent. As in the war for independence, Lynch,
who possessed a good military brain, was a man who, while
reasonable hope of success remained, was prepared to fight
on while other of his comrades had felt for sometime that
continuing the conflict was hopeless. There was growing
differences among the Republican Army Council during the
final two months of his life which caused Lynch serious
The morning of April 10th, 1923 was selected by General
Prout, Waterford Divisional Commander of the Free State
Army, for a major encirclement of the Knockmealdown mountain
region covering south west Tipperary and west Waterford
to round up and capture as many Republicans as possible
in a dawn swoop. Captain Tom Taylor, a native of Cashel,
was in command of a garrison of Free State soldiers in Clogheen.
On April 9th, 1923 he received a written order from General
Prout in Clonmel to proceed with one officer and sixty of
other ranks at 4am to reach Newcastle by daybreak. Taylor
with Lieutenant Larry Clancy, a native of Drangen, set out
in the cover of darkness from Clogheen and reach Goatenbridge
at 5am where they halted before proceeding up the laneway
that now leads up to the monument. Those smoking were allowed
to light up their cigarettes as they sheltered from the
chilly April breeze. Taylor and Clancy moved further up
along the lane suddenly guns opened fire oin them and they
took cover thinking it was friendly fire from another contingent
of their own army.
Returning to their own troops, Taylor and Clancy moved with
them further up the lane and then each took charge of a
section and spread out for better viewing of possible targets.
Lieutenant Clancy has left us a detailed and accurate account
of the tragic events that unfolded, resulting in the noble
death of a great chieftain and soldier of Ireland.
As Lieutenant Larry Clancy moved ahead of the men using
his field of glasses from the cover of a rock, he quickly
observed a group of men dressed in dark clothes all wearing
hats daringly standing on rocks firing automatic weapons
in his direction. Clancy stated: "I then knew they
were Republicans and ordered my men to fire at a range of
450 yards. We fired off five rounds and i saw them jumping
off the rocks before the bullets ceased to whiz around us.
I fired two shots then used my field glasses and saw them
all running down the hills towards the skyline. It was at
the moment I observed a man falling forward and remaining
there. All stopped and two of the group turned back to him
and began to drag him on his back away up the hill towards
the remainder of the group, who were going away hesitatingly.
I shouted to my men that we had shot one of them and told
them to fire again and not to stop until I told them.
Clancy went on to relate what he had said to his men. "They
are dragging him away, let them have it, they are diehards
alright. At that moment I saw the two men who were dragging
the body stand for a few moments, then turn and run away,
leaving the wounded man behind lying on the Hillside. Fire
was again opened up on us, from the rear this time, and
we were compelled to take cover at the enemy's side of the
rocks. For a moment I thought we were surrounded, but suddenly
I heard a voice away up on the hill in the direction where
Captain Taylor and the remainder were, giving orders to
stop firing, telling his men that we were Clancy and his
Larry Clancy went on "It was our own men who opened
fire on us. So when the fire ceased I said 'come on lads'
and we all ran as fast as we could up the hill. We were
under no fire now. When we got near to where the man was
lying, one soldier was 20 yards in front of me so I told
him to keep him covered with his rifle as he approached
him and told his men to spread out and not to bunch together.
As the soldiers approached the man he was lying on his side
with a folded coat under his head acting as a pillow. One
of the soldiers thought it was De Valera. I knew Mr De Valera
by sight. I asked the wounded man who he was. The man answered:
"you did not get Dev, it's Liam Lynch, get me a priest
and a doctor, I am dying"
We will complete the amazing story and the bond of friendship
that developed between the dying Liam Lynch and his captor,
Larry Clancy over the last hours of the General's life.
It highlights the pain and tragedy that civil war inflicted
on the Irish people dividing brothers, sisters and otherwise
Courtesy of John J. Hassett and The Avondhu