The Arrest of Murder of the Loughnane Brothers, Galway, 1920

#OnThisDay 1920 Patrick and Harry, two IRA Volunteers were arrested by D Coy Auxiliaries while thrashing corn at their family home in Shanaglish, Galway. Patrick was suspected of having raided the home of an ex-RIC man, WIlliam Carr, for a firearm.They were never seen alive again. 

‘They were first interrogated in Gort RIC barracks’, then ‘the brothers were made carry large stones and run before the lorries, the Crown Forces prodding them with bayonets until they fell exhausted… they were then tied to the lorries and dragged along the road’ to Drumharsna Castle near Ardrahan,  where ‘four shots were fired in Moy O’Hynes’ (also called Moyvilla) wood near Kinvara on Friday night, about 6 miles from Gort. Men answering their description were seen in O’Hynes’ wood dead or in a dying state on Saturday, and several saw Crown Forces in the wood on Sunday night’.

‘Their bodies were taken to a spot near where they were killed and burned, but the Auxiliaries neglected to bury the bodies and instead threw them into a muddy and oil covered pond where they were discovered 10 days later.

‘Evidently the brothers had been savagely beaten and tortured. Two of Harry’s fingers were cut off. Patrick’s legs and wrists were broken. Both their skulls were so fractured that a doctor speculated that hand grenades were blown up in their mouths’.

‘The bodies were hideously mutilated. Patrick was found lying on his back, and Harry on his right side, about 2 yards apart, and 4 yards from the verge of the pond. They were naked, not a particle of clothing remained, save one of Harry’s boots. His once graceful figure was a mass of unsightly scars and gashes; two of his fingers were lopped off; his right arm was broken at the shoulder, being almost completely severed from the body; whilst of the face nothing remained save the chin and lips, and the skull was entirely blown away. The remains were badly charred. Patrick’s body was not charred to the same extent as his brother’s. His back and shoulders remained intact. The limbs of both were charred to such an extent that the bones were exposed, the flesh and sinews being completely burned away. Mock decorations in form of diamonds were cut along Pat’s ribs and chest. Both his wrists were broken and also his right arm above the elbow. Patrick’s face was completely lashed away, so as to be unrecognisable, and his skull was very much fractured, as if a bomb had been forced into his mouth and exploded. The bodies were then set alight in a wood, where it is believed that they may have been still alive. Patrick’s back was the only part of his body that was not blackened by burns. He was evidently thrown on his back before being set on fire. Henry’s body was scorched all over.

Their bodies were identified by their sister. ‘On Tuesday 7 December 1920, shortly before the remains were removed from Shanaglish church for internment, a party of 2 policemen, 2 auxiliaries, and 2 soldiers, under the command of Lieutenant McCreery, 17th Lancers, and accompanied by Dr. James Sandys, Gort, arrived in a lorry, entered the church and unscrewed the coffin lids. Some eyewitness accounts also state the Tans mounted a machine gun on the wall of the church grounds, while the mock inquest was held inside. The coffins lay side by side covered by floral wreaths and wrapped in linen cloths the Republican colours, were laid side by side on the floor in the centre of the church, and were guarded by a party of young men. Doctor Sandys told Father Nagle, Beagh Parish Priest, that he had orders to view the bodies before internment, and he caused the church to be cleared. The bodies were not removed from the coffins. Doctor Sandys knew Patrick Loughnane by sight, but could not recognise him in either of the two bodies according to testimony he later gave to a military inquest’.

They were buried in Shanaglish.

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