Trauma And Tragedies Of 'Troubles' From The Past
(Part 2)

Another female victim was Miss Jennifer McAnuff (30), from Donaghmore, who was home on holiday from Bradford, where she was Superintendent at a Nursery School. Also in the house were her widowed mother, brother James, and a cousin, James Haughey.

They heard shouting outside, then a voice calling for James McAnuff to come out, claiming that he had been involved in a local ambush. James responded that he had proof that this was not possible. The gang were admitted, the leader with his face painted, and speaking with an affected accent. A document was produced for James to sign, affirming that he did not support violence.

Meanwhile, Jennifer was concerned that the finger of one of the intruders was twitching on the trigger of his gun. But, before one of his companions could intervene, a shot rang out, and Miss McAnuff slumped to the floor. The officer in command called out: “Who did that?” But there was no response.

Ordering the group out of the house, the officer told James McAnuff: “We will come back and burn your house to the ground, if you report this to anyone.” Teresa McAnuff died in Daisyhill Hospital, a few hours later.

Her killing caused uproar, not just in the Newry region, but throughout Ireland and Britain, especially in Bradford, where the victim had been held in the highest esteem. M.P.’s raised the subject at Westminster, demanding an Independent Inquiry, and that the person responsible should be punished.

The cold-blooded murder of two brothers from Corrags, near Ballyholland, also caused major controversy. Owen Magill, who had recently returned home after working in Liverpool, was shot dead by “B” Specials, along with his brother, Stephen. A patrol had been fired on, while cycling along the Grinan Road. One of the “Specials” had been shot in the foot.

Their sister, Mary Ellen Magill, later described how local republicans had advised the family to “clear out,” as reinforcements would be coming from the Newry barracks. But Owen refused to leave the farm, stating that he had not been involved in the gun-attack.

A lorry-load of “Specials” arrived at the farmhouse, shortly afterwards. They opened fire on the two brothers, at point-blank range. Stephen died instantly, while Owen was seriously injured. A hail of gunfire came from a nearby hill, fatally wounding Constable George Lynas. The police then took Owen away in their lorry. When Mary Ellen enquired at the Newry barracks next morning, she was told that her brother had died on the journey.

Of course, the frontier town was also the scene of killings, especially the shooting dead of a magistrate, Mr James Wolff – Flanagan, - as he was leaving Newry Cathedral after attending Mass, accompanied by his sister. Three gunmen were waiting in a car; one of them approached the R.M., telling him to “come along with us.” When he declined, a revolver was produced, and two shots were fired into his chest.

His sister grabbed the gunman by the collar of his coat, but she was tossed aside. He got into the car, and sped off with his companions. The victim’s last words, as he lay dying in Mr Fox’s barber-shop, next door to the cathedral were: “I forgive them.”

When Constable Gabbie was shot dead at Newry Market, a security dragnet was thrown around the town. All roads were sealed off, houses searched, and people checked at gunpoint on the streets. Even the ships at the Albert Basin were given a going-over.

In a hunt for Paddy Fearon from Boat Street, the security forces arrested his brother, Michael (16), but released him. Then, a group of armed and masked men raided the home of Joseph McGuigan at Kilmorey Street. Rushing upstairs, they dragged a lodger, William Hickey outside and took him away in a lorry. His bullet-riddled body was found, dumped on the outskirts of the town.

Speaking at the funeral, a priest stated that the victim had been killed “as a reprisal for a crime, with which he had neither association nor sympathy, but simply because he was a Catholic.”

When a patrol of “B” Specials was ambushed at John Mitchel Place, one constable was shot through the heart, while another was injured. In reprisal, several business premises were wrecked, while the old St Colman’s Hall was damaged. And a young storeman, Joseph Garvey from Aughagun was shot dead on the Rathfriland Road, outside Newry. He had just been to Confession in the Cathedral.

As a result of a gun and bomb attack on a patrol in Francis Street, four men were arrested. They were Peter McNulty of Kiln Street; Matthew Gray from Sugar House Quay’ and Peter O’Hanlon of Caulfield Place.

But the “Specials” found themselves in court, charge with “looting raids” on shops and homes in the Newry area. The stolen goods included groceries, clothing, jewellery, cigars and alcohol. The victims were Mrs Andrew Boyd, David McVeigh, George Irwin, John Quinn (the Milestone), James Casey, Rose McCann, Mary O’Hanlon, Daniel Keating, James Falloon, Mark McAteer, Anne Daly, John O’Halloran, Patrick Keenan, Mrs Mary McGrath, Eileen McCaughey and Michael Mulligan.

The Camlough area was the scene of various killings, such as those of Thomas Crawley from Whitecross and Patrick Creggan, a shoemaker from High Street, Bessbrook. They were seen at separate places, being placed in a lorry, containing men in police-type clothing. Their bodies were discovered, close together at Lislea. Both had been shot in the head.

Meanwhile, James Smith (45) of Keggal, and Hugh O’Hanlon, a long-distance runner from Eshwary, were shot dead by the I.R.A. Press reports stated that they had been “on friendly terms with the police,” had received threatening letters, and been given permission to carry guns for their protection. Another native of Eshwary, John Cosgrove was attacked at his home and tried to escape, his wife shielding him. The gang dragged her away and took him outside, where he was shot in the head and chest.

Let’s hope such litanies of the dead, both in the 20’s and more recent times, are really things of the past. But they are part of our history, from which we can learn valuable lessons, and so avoid a repetition in the future!

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© Fabian Boyle 2001-2008