Sunday, February 25, 2007

Bloody Sunday 1920

Dublin were scheduled to play Tipperary on November 21st, 1920. On the night before the match the leader of the Irish revolutionary forces Michael Collins had ordered the assassination of the "Cairo Gang'', 14 British intelligence officers sent to infiltrate his organisation under the guise of commercial travellers. In revenge, one of the British auxiliaries involved in the operation recalled that they tossed a coin over whether they would go on a killing spree in Croke Park or loot O'Connell Street instead.

Despite the unease in the city on the morning of November 21st, some 10,000 spectators went to Croke Park for the match.

The ball was thrown in by referee Mick Sammon from Kildare at 2.45 pm. Shortly afterwards an airplane flew over the ground and a red flare was shot from the cockpit. Black and Tans then raided the ground and an officer on top of the wall fired a revolver shot.

The crowd thought at first they were firing blanks but then machine gunfire was fired in increasing volume. The crowd stampeded towards the Railway wall, furthest from the gunfire.

Two of the players, Michael Hogan and Jim Egan, failed to make it off the pitch. A young Wexford man who attempted to whisper an act of contrition into the dying Hogan's ear was also shot dead.

The casualties included Jeannie Boyle, who had gone to the match with her fiancee and was due to be married five days later, and 14-year-old John Scott, so mutilated that they thought he had been bayoneted to death. Another two victims were aged 10 and 11 respectively.

The authorities released the following statement to the newspapers: A number of men came to Dublin on Saturday under the guise of asking to attend a football match between Tipperary and Dublin. But their real intention was to take part in the series of murderous outrages which took place in Dublin that morning. Learning on Saturday that a number of these gunmen were present in Croke Park, the crown forces went to raid the field. It was the original intention that an officer would go to the centre of the field and speaking from a megaphone, invite the assassins to come forward. But on their approach, armed pickets gave warning. Shots were fired to warn the wanted men, who caused a stampede and escaped in the confusion.

my source

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