RIC Constable Bertie Rippingale

RIC Constable Bertie Rippingale (aged 25) from Essex (Glandore)

Date of incident: 21 Oct. 1920

Sources: CE, 22, 23, 27 Oct., 8 Nov. 1920; CCE, 23 Oct. 1920; II, 23, 28 Oct. 1920, 19 Jan. 1921; Stephen Holland’s WS 649, 1 (BMH); Abbott (2000), 135; Kingston (2013), 212.


Note: Constable Rippingale and two other policemen had gone from Leap RIC barracks to the village of Glandore on Thursday afternoon, 21 October 1920, to arrest a man who turned out not to be at home. As they began to retrace their steps, they were fired upon by about ten men [an exaggerated number] armed with shotguns. They returned fire, and after a short interval they moved in single file to get back to Leap barracks, but they were fired upon again. Rippingale was mortally wounded in the ankle, leg, thigh, abdomen, and head. He died of his wounds at Cork Military Hospital the next day. The Glandore police quickly sought revenge: ‘Subsequently, there was a reign of terror in the village and neighbourhood owing to rifle firing from the barracks. About four o’clock in the morning four uniformed men went to Glandore to take reprisals, it is stated. Bombs and bullets were fired into Keenan’s Hotel and Messrs. O’Donoghue’s, Collins’, and McCarthy’s houses, a great deal of damage being done, and people ran terrified from their houses.’ See CE, 22 Oct. 1920.

Stephen Holland, former adjutant of the Leap Volunteer Company, Fourth (Skibbereen) Battalion, remembered these events differently: ‘On the 24th October 1920 [inaccurate date], I got word to be at the house of Dan O’Donovan, better known as “Danl O”.’ I was to be there at 9 o’clock and then myself and Danl O set out for Leap. We were late for the beginning of the ambush there, but unlike the previous one, this was successful. Four Tans were fired on and one was killed and two wounded, one of whom died afterwards. The ambush party consisted of five men, and they had shot-guns with better ammunition than on the previous occasion. The Tans were under the impression that the attackers had come from Glandore, and the next morning they went there from Leap with the object of carrying out reprisals. One, who was drunk, threw a grenade at a house, but so bad was his aim that it rebounded off the wall, burst, and killed him. After this they desisted and went away.’ See Stephen Holland’s WS 649, 1 (BMH).

Holland’s claim about a drunken ‘Tan’ having been killed by a rebounding grenade cannot be confirmed. But this story was not completely without foundation. The Cork County Eagle of 23 October reported: ‘About 3 a.m. [on 22 October] a number of “Black-and-Tans” ran amok and raided Glandore, where they damaged several houses, including Keenan’s Hotel, and one of them was seriously injured while in the act of throwing a bomb. None of the Irish members of the R.I.C. participated in the raid, and they did all in their power to restrain the “Black-and-Tans.”’ See CCE, 23 Oct. 1920. Constable Rippingale had only three months of service with the RIC; he had been a soldier and a labourer before joining the force.

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