The Black and Tans

Barnaderg in the 1920s

Mrs. Grace Balfe, nee O'Sullivan (Out and About Magazine 2003)

2014 award to Mickey Kelly, Athletics Ireland - Galway County Board
Killererin - A Parish History

Black and Tans were much feared

From her childhood Grace O’Sullivan remembers the dreaded Black and Tans.  Their noisy lorries, were much feared.  If playing in the fields, she was warned to lie down and stay still, because whatever moved, they sometimes shot at. They usually stopped in the village square – the pubs, being the first port of call.

Father suspected of harbouring the rebels

Then refreshed no doubt, they turned their attention to the houses. Grace’s father, Florence O’Sullivan, was suspected of harbouring the rebels, so O’Sullivan’s house was raided frequently, particularly at night. One Sunday, – an awful day – the family was told to vacate their house, as it was about to be burned or blown up. Grace remembers her mother in tears, packing china into a big tea chest. Her father Florence O’Sullivan was taken away at gunpoint, across the road to the barrack lawn, and there was told to get down on his knees. Mrs. Conroy who lived in a house overlooking the barrack (now the home of John Joe Wilson and family), went down on her knees and prayed that he would be spared. Mercifully her prayers were heard.  It is thought that the local Sergeant from the RIC, intervened.  The burning of the house was also stopped and it still standing so far in the heart of Barnaderg, across the road from the two village public houses.


Biographical Note

The author of this information was the late Mrs. Grace Balf, nee O’Sullivan, Barnaderg, who at the time lived in Hollyhead, North Wales. Her memories of her childhood in Barnaderg, during the troubles, are of interest. She was the daughter of the late Florence O’Sullivan, N.T. and Margaret O’Sullivan, nee Delaney. She was a sister of the late Mannie O’Sullivan.

(The letter containing the above information was received by Fr. Kieran Waldron then Parish Priest of Killererin, who kindly shared it with the Out and About committee of which was then a member)




Local Connection to Michael Collins


Next came the tragic Civil War.

Florence O’Sullivan Barnaderg, a native of Cork, was a first cousin to Michael Collins, and a great admirer of his. Naturally he supported the “Free Staters” whom Michael Collins led.

This is something his daughter Grace remembers, as she recalled how her father cried at the sad news of the death of Michael Collins. The Republicans caused much inconvenience with ambushes across the country. It was sad to see friends become enemies and sometimes brother against brother.

She recalls one night, when the family were in the sitting room, they had a visit from the IRA. Three of the local “Boys” arrived in trench coats and soft caps, with hands deep in pockets. They invited Florence O’Sullivan to ‘go for a little walk’ with them. Mary Anne, the housekeeper, a formidable character rushed in and calling the leader of the group by name told them “The Master wasn’t going anywhere with them and that they had very short memories and great cheek to suggest anything of the kind. She ushered them out and they departed as quiet as lambs. That was the only encounter with them.

This page was added on 02/07/2018.

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