7 May 2009 Edition

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Mickey Joe Mulligan's house and the Brookeborough Raid

LIVING HISTORY: The house where the Brookeborough Raid unit sought refuge

LIVING HISTORY: The house where the Brookeborough Raid unit sought refuge

ON SUNDAY, 3 May, a large crowd of several hundred republicans, drawn mainly from Fermanagh and Monaghan, gathered at Knockatallon, near Roslea, for the official opening of ‘Mickey Joe Mulligan’s house’.
The IRA, having commenced in December of 1956 an offensive against British forces in the Six Counties, had successfully targeted British bases mainly along the border. The Pearse Column, led by Seán Garland, had concentrated on the Fermanagh/Monaghan border area and had only recently destroyed Lisnaskea RUC Barracks.
On New Year’s Day 1957, as it was getting dark, the Pearse Column, among them Seán South and Feargal Ó hAnnluain, moved into Brookeborough village and set about attacking the RUC barracks there.
The mines laid by the attack party failed to go off and in the ensuing firefight with the police both Seán South and Feargal Ó hAnnluain were mortally wounded. A number of other Volunteers were also seriously wounded.
Seán Garland called off the attack and the Volunteers headed towards the border in their commandeered lorry, followed by British forces in close pursuit. The IRA’s  lorry had been damaged in the fighting and it had to be abandoned at Altawark crossroads, a remote, hilly area about six miles from Brookeborough. Here, Seán South and Feargal Ó hAnnluain, who were both close to death, were left in a farm building while the rest of the column pressed on on foot over the mountains in what were now near-blizzard conditions. The place where the two men died is now marked by a monument in their honour.
The surviving members of the column, carrying their weapons and their wounded comrades, walked for five hours across the mountain before arriving at Mickey Joe Mulligan’s house. There they secured shelter and Mickey Joe went to get medical help.

Today, Mickey Joe’s house has been carefully restored by local republicans.
The official opening had the honour of the presence of the several members of the original Pearse Column and their families.
The men shared their memories with the large crowd of that fateful night 52 years ago. Their emotional accounts of the night were mixed with the relief of evading capture of the pursuing crown forces and the sadness of loss their two fallen comrades.
Also in attendance was a surviving member of the Mulligan family, Maureen, who had been present the night that the Volunteers had arrived.
The local crew of young men who took part in the making of The Brookeborough Raid DVD did a re-enactment of their arrival at the house.
Local Sinn Féin Councillor Brian McCaffery welcomed Maureen and the veterans and congratulated the local Sinn Féin cumainn for the work that was done on rebuilding the house.
All the work in the site preparation, the construction, decorating and furnishing was done by local volunteers over the past four months. He also remembered in his remarks the late Eugene Cosgrove, a leading local republican who died last year and whose inspiration was the driving force behind the project. The house, he explained, would be an educational resource centre and form part of the planned route for walking tours commemorating republican history in the area.
The event was followed by a function in the nearby Sliabh Beagh Hotel where a capacity crowd watched presentations made to the veteran members and their families.
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