Shame The Devil

The six night run of ‘Shame The Devil’ gets underway on Saturday, May 14 and runs on May 15 and. The show is also on May 21, 22 and 23. It will be staged at the GAA Hall in Coachford, less than a mile from the site of the ambush at Godfrey’s Cross and, also, Leemount House, the home of Mrs. Lindsay.

That woman’s days were spent
In ignorant good-will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When, young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our wingèd horse;
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vainglorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

1916 WB Yeats

Doors open 8pm, World premiere of Shame the Devil. Coachford GAA Hall.

Coachford GAA Hall

A WIDOW who informed the British about an imminent IRA ambush during the War of Independence and told republicans that Crown forces were aware of their plans was, along with her chauffeur, ‘disappeared’, never to be seen again.

Not the typical plot for a light-hearted musical drama, you might say.

‘Shame the Devil’ is the latest in a series of musicals penned by singer songwriters Alan Kiely and Kevin Connolly who have previously collaborated on two succcessful musicals, The Murder of Shandy Hall and Sir Henry, two productions which focused on dark tales from local Cork history.

The well written songs and the show-stopping performances of local actors from around mid Cork ensured that both shows reached wide audiences and enjoyed successful runs not only in local venues but also in Cork’s Opera House.

‘Shame the Devil’ focuses on the events surrounding the Dripsey Ambush which took place on January 28, 1921. On that morning the 6th battalion of the No. 1 Brigade of the Irish Volunteers were lying in wait to ambush a convov of British Auxiliaries they expected to be travelling from Macroom to Cork to get their wages.

However, the British had been tipped off about the planned ambush and it wasn’t a lorryload of Auxiliaries which was travelling the road but the Manchester Regiment from Ballincollig which was heading to Dripsey. The British aim was to turn the tables on the IRA as they had received information warning them about the planned ambush.

It wasn’t a great mystery, it seems, as to who informed the British about the planned ambush as Mrs. Maria Lindsay, a widow whose husband had died around 10 years previously. Mrs Lindsay’s allegiance to the British crown was illustrated by the weekly balls she organised for British soldiers and she was a devout Protestant who wasn’t, by all accounts, to tolerant of her Catholic neighbours.

It seems that her main mission in alerting the British with regards to the planned ambush was to avoid bloodshed as she also got a message through discreet channels to the IRA, advising them that the British were on to their plans.

The IRA stuck to their guns, however, and the compromised ambush went ahead and five IRA volunteers were captured and a sixth died of his wounds. A seventh man lost a leg due to wounds inflicted at the ambush.

When the IRA found out who informed on their planned ambush, they abducted Mrs Lindsay, who had told the local priest, Fr. Shinnick, and the British forces of the plan, and her chauffeur, James Clarke.

A note from the IRA was dropped outside Victoria Barracks in Cork. The note was short and to the point:

“‘To General Strickland,

Victoria Barracks, Cork

We are holding Mrs Lindsay and her chauffeur, James Clarke, prisoners. They have been convicted as spies and are under sentence of death. If the five of our men taken at Godfrey’s Cross are executed on Monday morning they will be shot immediately. I enclose a personal appeal from Mrs Lindsay to you.

OC 6th Battn.

Flying Column”

The five men captured by the British at Dripsey, Daniel O’Callaghan, Patrick O’Mahony, Timothy McCarthy and Thomas O’Brien, were executed.

Shortly afterwards Mrs Lindsay and Mr Clarke were shot in reprisal. Their bodies were never found.

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