The month of August was to be particularly tragic because of the sudden death of Arthur Griffith the leader of the Provisional Government and, of course, Michael Collins, who was shot dead in an ambush at Béal na mBláth. Not only was the death of Collins a tragedy in the context of the Civil War but it also had huge political repercussions and denied the country of a man who seemed destined to be its leader once the conflict was at an end, writes Eamonn Duggan
The Civil War moved into its second full month in August 1922 and there was little sign of the fighting abating. In fact, the month saw the conflict intensify with the death toll mounting and the damage to the country’s infrastructure increasing as every day passed.
The month of course was to be particularly tragic because of the sudden death of Arthur Griffith the leader of the Provisional Government and, of course, Michael Collins who was shot dead in an ambush at Béal na mBláth. Their deaths were to have long-term implications for the fledging Free State and robbed it of two of its most influential leaders.
Both men left us with impressive legacies and who knows what they might have achieved had they survived the civil war and gone on to lead the country in its first decade of existence.
National Army troops, numbering around 800 in total, landed from the sea at Fenit in Kerry on August 2 and they fought their way to Tralee. During the operation nine soldiers were killed in action and some 35 others were wounded. It was reported that two anti-Treaty men also lost their lives and many others were wounded.
That same day anti-Treaty forces, under the command of Liam Deasy, launched an attack on Bruree in Limerick, backed up by three armoured cars. They had hoped to re-take the village but were beaten back by National Army troops. Across in County Tipperary anti-Treaty forces hastily abandoned Tipperary town and made off towards Clonmel. Tipperary town was then taken over by National Army troops.
Over in the west of the country an anti-Treaty force attacked Swinford in Mayo and captured the town and took forty National Army soldiers as prisoners. However, later that day the town was re-taken by National Army troops but, at a cost, as they lost a Commandant and another soldier.
Back in Tipperary there was a confrontation in Carrick-on-Suir between around six-hundred National Army troops, led by General John. T Prout, and an anti-Treaty force led by Dan Breen. Prout and his men eventually took the town but one soldier was killed and three others were wounded.
The following day saw a confrontation in Ballina and National Army troops took possession of Ballinrobe where it also managed to recruit some 200 new volunteers for service. That day also saw an anti-Treaty force of around 250 men take possession of Ballylongford and Tralee having travelled from Kilrush to Tarbert in fishing boats.
The following day, August 4, saw National Army troops, under the command of Paddy Daly, take possession of Castleisland in Kerry and, as they did so, an anti-Treaty force in the town retreated after shells were fired at them from a field gun. Across in Tipperary, three National Army soldiers lost their lives in an attack on a troop carrier initiated by anti-Treaty men.