éirígí Commemorate Egyptian Arch Ambush in Newry
Friday [December 12] marked the 94th anniversary of the historic Egyptian Arch ambush which took place on the Camlough Rd in Newry in 1920. The socialist republican party éirígí commemorated the anniversary by holding a wreath laying ceremony at the site of the battle on Friday morning.
The audacious operation resulted in the loss of three heroic IRA volunteers, William Canning, Peter Shields and John Francis O’Hare.
The operation began when IRA volunteers attacked the RIC barracks in Camlough. Reinforcements consisting of British soldiers and RIC personnel left Newry to reinforce the Camlough garrison. When they reached the roadblock under the Egyptian Arch the IRA volunteers on top, who had taken up their positions earlier, dropped grenades onto them– two or three found their target but were thrown out before they could explode. Others exploded on the road. Volunteer William Canning was hit in the throat and head and died instantly. It was later admitted by the RIC that his body was thrown from the top of the Arch as “it was the quickest way to get it down”. Volunteer John Francis O’Hare was badly wounded and captured. He was taken to a British military hospital and kept there until July 15 1921. He died from his wounds on October 5 1921.
Also badly wounded in the ambush was volunteer Peter Shields, but his comrades managed to help him to safety. Shields died from his wounds on Christmas Day 1920 and was buried in an unmarked grave in Omeath.
Speaking after the event éirígí's Newry representative Stephen Murney paid tribute to the IRA volunteers “We started commemorating this historic event back in 2010 by unveiling a plaque to mark the 90th anniversary of the Egyptian Arch ambush which saw three IRA volunteers paying the supreme sacrifice for Irish liberation. For far too long this historic event was largely forgotten about and we felt it would be fitting to pay tribute to the fallen volunteers. Even though it’s six years until the 100th anniversary we are already planning events to mark the centenary.
“The volunteers involved in the ambush were soldiers of the Irish Republican Army who took part in a meticulously planned and daring operation involving over 200 volunteers. We are proud to be here every year to pay our respects to these courageous volunteers and the sacrifice made on that cold December night 94 years ago”
Murney concluded “These men were soldiers of an army, an army that was to the fore in resisting British occupation. Despite the odds being stacked against them they nonetheless faced the foe with outstanding courage and bravery. The principles by which the organisation stood and for which many of its members paid the ultimate sacrifice remain relevant almost a century later.”