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7 December 2000 Edition

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Remembering the Past: Horrific death of brothers at hands of Black and Tans

One of the most shocking incidents of British terror of the period occurred 80 years ago this week when the Loughnane brothers, Pat and Harry were kidnapped and brutally tortured by Black and Tans.

Pat Loughnane was a local IRA leader and Sinn Féin secretary and was active in the local GAA. His younger brother was president of the local Sinn Féin club and goalkeeper with Beagh hurling club. Both men were held in the highest regard in the South Galway area.

On Friday, 26 November, 1920, while threshing thier mother's corn on the farm in Shanaglish, the brothers were arrested by Tans. More than a week was to pass before the bodies would be recovered and in the intervening period the two men were subjected to incredible barbarity.

Witnesses, including others arrested at the same time, told how the men were beaten for several hours in Gort Bridewell. From there the two men were tied to the tailgate of a lorry, bound to each other, and dragged along the country roads to Drumharsna Castle, headquarters of the Black and Tans, and subjected to further assaults. At 11pm on 26 November, the day of their arrest, Pat and Harry were taken from the castle to Moy O'Hynes wood, to the spot just off the public road which is now marked by a cross to their memory. Four shots were heard. The following morning the bodies were seen there and the information that Harry was still alive and moaning has always been considered to be reliable.

On Sunday morning, the Auxiliaries came to the wood and took the bodies to Umbriste, about two miles nearer to Ardrahan. There they set fire to them. It appears that since they didn't burn to their satisfaction they hurriedly tried to bury the remains, but on account of the rocky surface of the earth, they failed in that attempt also, and so they threw them into a muddy pond close by where they wouldn't easily be discovered. To make the discovery more difficult, they threw dirty oil on the water.

On the following Monday night, 29 November, a party of auxiliaries from Drumharsna called on Mrs. Loughnane to say that her sons had escaped from them. It was a frightening piece of news to receive and all their friends became anxious about their fate. Their sister Nora came home to make a search for the bodies. It was ten days later that the bodies were found and a funeral arranged.

A local doctor examined the remains carefully. They were badly burnt and what appeared to be the letters `I.V.' were cut in the charred flesh in several places. Two of Harry's fingers were missing and his right arm, broken completely across at the shoulder, was hanging off. Both Pat's wrists and legs were broken. The doctor noted that it looked to him that hand grenades had been put in their mouths and exploded.

Despite a heavy Black and Tan presence in the area, Volunteer officers held an inquest and the verdict was inscribed on the breast plates of the coffins:

Anraoi 0 Locnáin

A gabhadh a marbhuigeadh agus a

dhoigeadh ag na Sasanacaibh

Mí Samhna, 1920,

in aois a trí mbliadhain is fiche.

Dia le n-a anam.

Pádraig 0 Locnáin

A gabhadh, a marbhuigeadh agus a

dhoigeadh ag na Sasanacaibh

Mí Samhna, 1920,

in aois a naoi mbliadhain is fiche.

Dia le n-a anam

At two o'clock in the afternoon, the two coffins were taken down the road to the cemetery and laid side by side in a separate plot. As soon as the last sods had been placed in position six local Volunteers stepped forward and fired three volleys. By paying that final tribute, the local Volunteers told the Crown forces that England's bloodiest efforts would only stiffen resistance.

On Sunday 26 November last, local republicans turned out in large numbers to commemorate the men at the memorial built at the spot where they died. Patrick Kelly, a recently released POW from Longford and a Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle member, gave the oration, following in the footsteps of Seán Russell, who unveiled the monument in the 1930s and, indeed, Tom Mitchell, who gave the oration after his release from Crumlin Road Prison in 1960.

Eighty years on, the bravery and sacrifice of these two victims of British terror continue to inspire us to ensure that all they suffered was not in vain.

BY EOIN Mac CORMAIC


An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland