Mrs Lindsay

There is not much doubt that the IRA considered that she had given information to the British, which resulted in the deaths of IRA Volunteers

appeared on the list of ‘missing persons’ published in the Irish Times of 22 August 1921.

A long article on The Irish Revolution

Maria Lindsay was kidnapped on February 17, 1921, and later executed by the IRA on March 11, along with her chauffeur James Clarke.

Her status as an informer was a matter of certainty for Florrie O’Donoghue, the intelligence officer of Cork No. 1 Brigade: “In her case the death sentence [passed by the IRA] followed a flagrant and deliberate action against the Army, that of conveying information to the occupation forces in regard to the Dripsey ambush.”

Even after sentence had been passed, an official letter from the Cork No 1 Brigade to Major General Sir EP Strickland indicated that the sentence would not be carried out if the prisoners taken at Dripsey were treated as prisoners of war. The communication was ignored and Mrs Lindsay was shot.

Mrs Lindsay was executed by the IRA partly for having given information to the crown forces at Ballincollig Military Barracks that led to the capture of eight republicans (five wounded) in the abortive Dripsey ambush of January 28, 1921, and to the execution of five of them (plus a sixth Volunteer from Tipperary town) at Victoria Barracks in Cork city on February 28, 1921.

The ambush took place outside Dripsey, on the road to Coachford. In retaliation for the six executions on February 28, the IRA shot twelve unarmed British soldiers in the streets of Cork city that night.

According to a reliable account of the Dripsey ambush and its immediate background, “That morning, Mrs Mary Lindsay of Leemount House, who held strong loyalist views, heard of the ambush during a visit to Coachford.

“She was on her way to Ballincollig for a newly introduced military inspection of her car (a measure introduced by the British to cut down on the commandeering of cars by the IRA). When she told Mr Sheehan, a local grocer, of her plans, he advised her not to go through Dripsey and Inniscarra, and when she asked why, he told her of the intended ambush.

“She told the local priest, Father Ned Shinnick, what she had heard before returning home. From there her chauffeur James Clarke drove her to Ballincollig to warn the army authorities.

“Meanwhile, Father Shinnick informed the local IRA command to tell the ambushers that the British had been informed of their plans. Father Shinnick was known to be anti-IRA, and the leaders of the IRA ambush party decided that the warning was just a ruse on the part of the priest to get them to abandon their ambush.”

Had the priest’s warning been heeded, the disaster of the Dripsey ambush and all of its tragic consequences might have been avoided.

In 1911, Maria Georgina (Mary) Lindsay (then aged 50) and her husband John (aged 66) had been married for 23 years. They were childless. They resided at Leemount, a modest mansion with 13 rooms, along with their butler (and later chauffeur) James Clarke, a housemaid, a cook, and a coachman.

They were adherents of the Church of Ireland; they did employ two Catholic servants. Very shortly after the IRA executed Mrs Lindsay and James Clarke, a party of Volunteers burned down their house.

The ill-fated IRA commander of the nearly seventy Volunteers gathered near Godfrey’s Cross between Dripsey and Coachford on 28 January 1921 was Frank Busteed, captain of the Blarney Company of the Sixth Battalion of the Cork No 1 Brigade. He was involved in the kidnapping and execution of Mrs Lindsay and James Clarke as well as in the burning of Leemount House. According to Busteed, even Michael Collins did not know that Busteed and his comrades had executed Mrs Lindsay, and there is evidence that Collins and other IRA leaders wanted to save her.


Shot by IRA as British spies