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Sheemore Ambush
Part of the Irish War of Independence
Date 4 March 1921
Location Sheemore, County Leitrim
Result IRA victory
Republic of Ireland Irish Republican Army
(South Leitrim Brigade)
United Kingdom British Army
United Kingdom Royal Irish Constabulary
Sean Mitchel unknown
7 volunteers 30–40 (although many RIC fled the scene)
Casualties and losses
none one known death

The Sheemore Ambush (Irish: Luíochán an tSí Mhór) was an ambush carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) on 4 March 1921, during the Irish War of Independence. It took place at Sheemore near Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim.

The ambush was carried out by the IRA's South Leitrim Brigade on a force of Black and Tans. The British suffered casualties and admitted one fatality, a captain in the Bedfordshire Regiment, although local sources claimed several more were killed.

The Black and Tans later ran amok in Carrick-on-Shannon, burning and looting. Among the premises they burned were Carrick on Shannon Rowing Club and the premises of the local newspaper, the Leitrim Observer.

The Ambush

As the congregation made their way out of Gowel Church from the First Friday Mass they were confronted by three lorries carrying 30–40 British troops and Royal Irish Constabulary. The men were lined up for searching on one side while a lady took care of the women. There was no panic and as nothing was found, there were no arrests. Gowel Church had been singled out that morning as a likely place for volunteers of the IRA's South Leitrim Brigade to attend. Father Edward O’Reilly (curate of Gowel) was unconcealably friendly towards the volunteers, and it was likely that the volunteers would attend a church where they would be welcomed.

After they searched the church interior, the police and soldiers remounted their lorries and continued back to Carrick-on-Shannon. About a mile and a half down the road, on the slopes of Sheemore, volunteers of the South Leitrim Brigade awaited them. The day before, the Brigade had received word from Joe Nangle (of Drumshanbo) of the British operation. They took up position behind a low wall which ran on the brink of an eighty-foot-high rock face on the side of Sheemore. It was four hundred yards from the road. There were seven volunteers – Brigadier Sean Mitchel (who was in command), Charles E McGoohan of Ballinamore, Michael Geoghegan of Aughacashel, Mattie Boyle of Carrick-on-Shannon, Michael Martin of Ballinamore, Joe Nangle of Drumshanbo and Harry McKeaon.

At the command from Mitchell they opened fire on the convoy. The British jumped from their lorries in confusion and took cover behind a wall which ran along the road. The police ran despite the shouts from the soldiers to stand their ground. The officer in command tried to use field glasses to spot the positions of the IRA. After a forty-five minute gunfight the IRA withdrew. The British made no attempt to follow them. Instead they gathered up their dead and wounded and returned to Carrick-on-Shannon. Reportedly, a woman from nearby Effrinagh visited the ambush site shortly thereafter to recover a volunteer's handkerchief. Had it been found by the British, dogs could have been used to track down the volunteers.

It is unclear how many British were killed in the ambush. The estimates range from fifteen to twenty.[1]


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