RIC Constable Michael Neehan

RIC Constable Michael Neehan (aged 32) from County Clare (Allihies)

Date of incident: 12 Feb. 1920

Sources: CE, 13, 14, 16, 17 Feb. 1920; CWN, 19 Feb. 1920; James Sullivan’s WS 1528, 4-5 (BMH); Christopher O’Connell’s WS 1530, 7, 9-11 (BMH); William O’Neill’s WS 1536, 3-4 (BMH); Abbott (2000), 60; Kingston (2013), 211; irishmedals.org (accessed 28 July 2014).


Note: Volunteers from the Eyeries, Castletownbere, and Bere Island companies staged an attack on the RIC barracks at Allihies early on the morning of 12 February 1920. As one of the attacking Volunteers, Christopher O’Connell, recalled many years later, the operation was planned by Cornelius Sullivan, Joseph Foley, and himself. About twenty men participated in the actual raid, while some others were occupied in scouting and outpost duties. Eight of the raiders were armed with rifles, the rest with shotguns. The explosives used in the attack were supplied by Volunteers from the British garrison on Bere Island. See Christopher O’Connell’s WS 1530, 8 (BMH). Using a bomb, the IRA men blew in the gable end of the barracks and then opened fire. Constable Neehan died of his wounds (he was shot in the stomach) later that day; Constable O’Driscoll was wounded in the ankle. The barracks were located in the Allihies copper-mining district. See CE, 13 Feb. 1920.

At the inquest on Constable Neehan the evidence indicated that the raiding party ‘numbered over 50’; the sergeant in charge professed his belief that the raiders were not ‘local men’. Both of the policemen wounded were hit by the fire of the attackers and not injured in the explosion. Sergeant Thomas Nugent told the inquest that at about 3:30 a.m. there was ‘a terrific explosion at the back wall of the barracks, immediately in front of where I was sleeping; a large portion of the wall, about 15 feet square, collapsed, and I was practically knocked out of bed. Part of the upper floor collapsed to a certain extent opposite the breach. I got up off the floor and crossed the breach to join the rest of my men. After the explosion I heard sho[u]ts of “Come out and surrender; the barrack is mined. I will blow you up.” I shouted out, “I will not surrender.”’ See CE, 14 Feb. 1920.

When Constable Neehan’s remains were removed to the Catholic church in Allihies, ‘the large number of people who followed the cortege showed the sympathy of the people, with whom the deceased was very popular’. Fr Power expressed his wish that the funeral Mass would be heavily attended to demonstrate ‘their sympathy and dissociate themselves from the terrible deed which cost the deceased his life’. See CE, 16 Feb. 1920. A native of County Clare, Constable Neehan had almost thirteen years of service with the RIC; he had previously been a farmer.  

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