Martin Scanlon

 

Born 1866 fom Gro death

 

Scanlon’s body had a label attached to his coat with the words ‘Convicted spy. Tried by the I.R.A. True to your colours to the last.’ He was executed at the same time as John McGauley

 

WS 770

Two men who lived in the Ballagh district were under suspicion for a considerable time of supplying information about us to the enemy. One was an ex-member of the R.I.C. and the other was the local postmaster. The ex R.I.C. man pretended to be a great friend of the I.R.A. and he often asked me to come and see him. He gave me information about forthcoming raids by the enemy and the districts that were: going to be searched. He stated that he had been in Roscommon and had got the information from the police there with whom he was very friendly. He advised me to get all our men out of the area that was going to be searched, according to him, and to put them in a safe area which he defined. I did quite the opposite, as I did not trust the man. I took a chance.

The following morning; enemy forces consisting of military, police and Lancers from Strokestown surrounded the area which he had declared would be safe. This area comprised the townlands of Ballincurry, Ballinvolly, Carrowmoneen, Aghamuck and Fairymount, all of which were given special attention. There was not a bush or a crevice of any size or description that they did not fire into and they used up some thousands of rounds of ammunition in combing the area. They took everyone of military age, both male and female, and brought them to a cottage at Beechwood where they were required to parade past a window. Some local individual who knew the people of this area was apparently inside for the purpose of identification. They got none of the men they were looking for. The ex R.I.C. man's home was kept under observation for a considerable period at night time.

On a few occasions some unknown person was seen to visit the house in the very late hours of the night, or very early morning between 1 and 3 a.m. This took place at considerable intervals of time. We had a dug-out constructed near the Glebe House and opposite the ex R.I.C. man's house, where he could see us. We never stayed in this dug-out but showed ourselves there occasionally for his benefit. The next big round-up the enemy went straight from Glebe House to the dug-out. About three miles away from this place, we found a map which they had lost and this dug-out was marked plainly on it. On a Saturday night in May, 1921, this man was again in Roscommon and visited the police barracks there.

He asked several young lads from the Ballagh district, who were in the town that night, to accompany him home and offere1th to give them seats on his vehicle. He was apparently ill at ease and was anxious to have company to his home, or had some premonition that we were coming for him. That night, or early on Sunday morning, we went to his house. I had men posted at the back windows. We had only knocked once at the door when he tried to escape out the back window. We had to break our way into the house. He had barricaded himself into his room. We captured him but he refused to dress himself. When we had left the house and gone some distance, I sent a man back for his overcoat which we placed on his shoulders. We took him to Canon Hurley to have him receive the rites of the Church. He asked me to promise him that his death would not react on the welfare of his family and also that I would take his sons into the I.R.A. if I thought they were worth it. I promised him that I would do as he wished. Canon Hurley administered to him. When we had come away from the priest's house some distance, he said he would like to see the priest again, so we took him back to him, He was blindfolded this time. We had only gone a few hundred. yards from the priest's house along the road to the place we had selected for execution when we met some more of our men with another prisoner.

This second prisoner was the local postmaster, who was also being taken to see the priest. The ex R.I.C. man, Scanlon, on hearing me give instructions to the second party as to where they were to go, said, "Is that another one, Frank?". "It is", I said. "Who do you think it is?" "Would it be John McCauley?", he replied, and I said, "Correct, first time!". McCauley was the postmaster. Some short distance further on, we met another party of our men with a third prisoner, a lady this time. - She was a daughter of Scanlon. Scanlon now asked me if that was another one and I said, "Yes". He then remarked, "You must be going to make a clean sweep of them to-night". I said that after tonight there would be no information for the enemy in this parish. The two men were taken to Kilrooskey and, about a quarter of a mile on the Beechwood side of it on the road leading to Roscomnion where a trench had been cut across the road, they were executed by shooting. The usual label, "Spies And Informers, Beware!", was placed on their bodies which we left on the side of the road. The lady was tied to the gate outside Kilgeffin church. I understand she was released in the morning y someone who was going to early Mass which was at 8.30 a.m.

The bodies of both of the executed men were taken to Roscommon where some sort of Inquiry or inquest was held by the British authorities. Subsequently, when their funeral was taking place, the Tans and R.I.C. went along the route of the procession in Roscommon and compelled the people to close their Shops and draw the blinds on the windows. The two men were buried locally by their own people. Extensive searches were carried out by the British in the area after this, but without any result. No further information was supplied to the enemy after that from that area.

IRA Witness Statement

 

 

 

Shot by IRA as British spies