DEREK FANNING recalls the strange happenings of the summer of 1920 when a Tipperary youth claimed he saw blood coming from the eyes of a statue of the Virgin Mary at his home in Templemore.
In August 1920, things became strange in Templemore, North Tipperary, when a number of supernatural manifestations were reported.
The reports stated that in a number of premises religious statues began to bleed. People said the statues shed tears of blood in Thomas Dwan’s newsagent’s, the Royal Irish Constabulary barracks and a cottage in the townland of Curraheen near Gortagarry.
A 16-year-old, who was working as a farm labourer, and was living in the Curraheen cottage said the Mother of God had appeared to him on a number of occasions and a holy well appeared in the floor of his bedroom.
The occurrence of the bleeding statues in Templemore is directly linked to the brutal and testing time which the people of Ireland were going through in 1920. The War of Independence was underway and its hand of death came to Templemore on the 16th of August when District Inspector William Harding Wilson of the Royal Irish Constabulary was shot dead.
If an RIC officer or a British soldier was shot and killed, then the reprisals by the British army could be ferocious. And so it was on the night of 16th of August when the military carried out a number of reprisals, including burning down creameries in Castleiney, Loughmore and Killea, torching Templemore town hall, attacking houses and looting shops.