The Castle Lambert Tapes: Tape 7 The Murder of Tom Egan

Home » Library » The Lamberts of Athenry Book » Record

This is tape 7 of 10 Lambert tapes recorded at Pat Kelly’s house, Castle Lambert in August 1990. The main speakers were Pat Kelly and his son Martin T. Kelly, Nora O’Brien (nee Egan) Paddy Kelly, his brother Jack and John “Mac” Kelly. Michael O’Malley interviewed the gathering and Frank Burke was on the camera.

Paddy: Nora Egan you remember Burke the Peeler?

Nora: I do and do you know I remember the morning well that Shawe Taylor was shot.

Paddy: Burke would have saved your father if he took his bidding. Your father was serving drink and Burke came down for
a few pints of porter on Sunday.

Nora: ‘Twas Constable Burke all right!

Paddy: He went in and says to your father “You get out tonight, don’t stay here. I’m telling you now” he says. “I’m giving you warning” Your father wouldn’t listen to him. “I will not get out” he says. Well he went into John Briggs going back. He said to John Briggs “Go back and tell your father (Nora’s father – Tom Egan) not to sleep in his house tonight” That was the policeman’s words now. John Briggs, he went back and told your father. Your father wouldn’t get out. You were the last one to have a hand ‘round your father.

Nora: I was the first down the stairs. But I want to tell you something. The night he was shot Pat Higgins – you know Pat Higgins from Coshla – came to the back (of the pub) and he had a drink and I was pressing up the passage and like that I was curious to know who was talking. And he said to him “Now Tom the Tans are coming tonight” and he said there was nineteen or twenty of them in Broderick’s house now. They were there that night and they had the stations before that and there was whiskey and everything and Sonny Egan, my brother that died there a few years ago, was a young lad about fifteen and he comes in and says to Dadda “what you ought to do that your self and myself go on the run” and didn’t Dadda start laughing at Sonny at the idea of him going on the run. Well Mamma came on the scene and she said “Well Tom, what are you going to do?” “I’ll tell you” he said, “I am an innocent man and I never committed any crime in all my life and I’ll stay with you and the children”.
The man that shot Dadda he was an Irish Policeman and he was one of the protection crowd for Mrs. Taylor. Now, to come from our house from Taylors you just came down across the field. In the olden times when we had the old bar, there was just a bedroom over the bar and it was going out a bit towards that ash tree. And I lowered the window before I went into bed and in that big bedroom there was Mary Jane the eldest sister, Maggie and I. and I said “Listen to the talk, they’re coming”. So Dadda, the Lord have mercy on him came down to the bar. I shouted down in the darkness – there was no electricity or anything – what we had was candles and matches if we wanted to have a light but Dadda came down anyhow and I said “Dadda, the Tans are coming down across the field!”. Mary Jane said “Don’t mind Nora. Them are not the Tans” Dadda went up to the kitchen where he was only sitting in the chair when the big knock came to the door. Now we were overhead the bar and the next thing was Mamma came down and she opened the door. Now you can understand in that time there was only the wall lamp. There was no electricity, that’s all. Now I don’t know if she lit the lamp. She must have had. So they came in – there was three of them in it and said “Who have you on the premises?” And she said “Nobody” and “Come on (in)”. so they went up into the kitchen and Dadda the Lord have mercy on him was sitting on the chair and I think he was reading the ‘Tribune’ he had in his hand. And “Who is this man?” and they said “We are taking him out” and she said “You are not!” So Dadda got up and this man with three stripes, he was a sergeant, I won’t mention his name because I mean to say he might have relations living yet, but he was stationed in Moorpark. Anyhow they went to bring Dadda out the back door and Mamma went and however she managed to lock the back door. She said “You will never make ‘John Hanlon’ out of him”. Now John Hanlon was from Turloughmore, Lackagh and the Saturday before that they shot him on the understanding that ‘he ran out the back door and went to escape’. Now he ran all right but she thought ‘If Dadda went outside the back door you would hear “trying to escape”. But anyhow ‘the row went on’ and Dadda wasn’t as tall as Mamma and he put his hand on Mamma’s shoulder. Dadda was lower than Mamma. He (the Tan) gave him the first bullet here (pointing to the spot) and the second bullet there. Now Dadda fell on the floor, Mamma was there. Another policeman stood there with a rifle. “I was the rifle” she said. Now when he fired on Dadda on the ground Mamma collapsed. She said she remembers that after collapsing that some one of then pulled he along the floor and whatever way God was on her side (when) she regained consciousness she said the Sacred Heart picture was up on the wall and that she called on the Sacred Heart of Jesus to protect her and her family. And she said the man that was after doing it he looked back and made faces at her.

Nora: Now the shop (bar) door was wide open and it was a very bright night and the kitchen door was wide open and when the man – there was another (police) man in the shop in the bar and he was standing at our door – there was a stairs going up to the room – and he wouldn’t let anyone down and as soon as he went out the door I came down and this is what I saw. Mamma was there and she was kinda raining Dadda up. And I raised him up. I was thirteen years. There was older than me but I was first to come down. And she took Dadda up and he was there now and I never in living memory or since or before saw anything like all the blood there. And Dadda was dying and she said an ‘Act of Contrition”. Now Dadda was put lying down on the floor again and I was only half past ten on a Sunday night. Sunday night passed and no neighbours came in – the bar was closed to the public on Sunday. Monday morning came and a few neighbours came.. Monday night came. I remember William Higgins and Pat Burke from Cregmore they went to Athenry – Corbetts in Athenry that time supplied the coffins and Mick O’Grady in Athenry he was the undertaker with the hearse. And what did he have at the time was a horse drawn hearse. I remember the black hat and the white scarf on him. We then had Mass Tuesday morning – Father Lynch from Athenry came down.

Nora: We had Mass in the house Tuesday, there was no funeral, the house was surrounded again with military and Tans. No neighbour would dare put out their heads! We were Sunday night and Monday night and Tuesday night with Dadda still in the house and he laid out there. I remember Dr. Quinlan from Athenry, there was a kind of post mortem and ‘all this rigmarole’ and William Higgins, I’ll remember it forever and I only thirteen, he stepped out and contradicted the doctor. There was some dispute about the wounds and William Higgins said “Did you not see that?”

Nora: Wednesday evening and Dadda was buried above in Moorpark and there was no such thing as going to the church in Athenry. We had to go in by Shawe Taylor’s door and pass out where the Tans were camped – staying in some room in Shawe Taylors. Dadda was buried in Moorpark. That evening there was only five allowed at the funeral. I don’t think there was hardly anyone at it they were all afraid and the Tans were down in the furze in Moorpark and they were blasting away (with their guns).
Now she (Mamma) had to return back and it was next to impossible to get but we did get a friend of the family and she stayed.

Nora: Now when Dadda was a week dead and Mamma said to me “Now you’re not to go out in the bar, you are not to go upstairs (over the bar if the Tans were in the house)” At that time now there was a wooden ceiling in the kitchen and (if) the Tans were in the kitchen, a big spacious room, we were up and we had to stay in the far room which meant that you were hungry, no dinner till the Tans went. To come down it was dangerous. So anyway I said to the others “I’m going down and out into the pantry and I am going bringing ye up some food” there was plenty of food but you couldn’t come down where the Tans were. And now if Mamma ever saw me – I was more afraid of Mamma than any of the Tans – as I was supposed not to go. Anyway I was just going out the back door and there was this big Tan sitting below on a chair near the fire and the bug hob beside him. “Come here” he said “You” and I went down and looked up. “What’s your name” he said, “My name is Nora”. “Nora” he said “Sit on that hob” and wasn’t I glad of that warm hob but the thing was when Mamma would come up out of the bar ‘what was Nora going to do’. He took a little book up out of his pocket and he asked me a few questions and if I weren’t able to answer then I don’t know what would happen but what did he ask me but about a thunder storm and I said “near water and under a tree” and I just answered as good as I could and then Mamma came up. “Nora” she said. “Leave Nora there now” He told me that I was an intelligent girl because I knew about the thunder. But the next thing Mamma was there (beside the bar door) like and there was three of four Tans there (also in the kitchen) and didn’t he make one sweep in the middle of the floor and he pulled up his revolver. Mamma said in her own mind “That’s the end of Nora now, why didn’t she stay in her own room”. Well he caught the revolver and pointed it to the ceiling and said “Nora, if I could lay my hands on the man that deprived you of your father he’d get the contents of this. And did you know what he did? I’ll think of the song forever! He stood up in the middle of the floor and he sang this song – a rebel song and the last verse was “My conscience will never condemn me with his last dying breath, my God bless the cause of freedom for which I was sentenced to death”. Well if that man had said to me then “Come Nora and we’ll get the man” I declare to God I’d have gone with him I was so glad he was going to kill the man that killed Dadda.

Michael: And that was Thomas Egan your father?

Nora: Yes! Thomas Egan! He was forty seven years of age when he was shot.

Michael: How many years after that did your mother live?

Nora: He was shot in 1920 and my mother didn’t die till 1964.

Michael: She was a great woman!

Nora: What I want to say to you is this (she) being so brave – not boasting about ourselves – when a knock came to the door, it didn’t matter, one or two o’clock in the morning, my mother had to go down and answer that knock. No such thing as saying “Who’s there?” You had to open the door, so the Tans used to come in – they were ‘travelling’ and they came in. first she had to light the little lamp and hang it on the wall…

Nora: I remember I was standing there when Constable Burke came the day that Dadda was dead and he was at our house the night before. Burke is the right name for the policeman. And there was a military enquiry in Athenry and my mother had to go in there. There was Sergeant Reilly in Athenry and Constable Burke walked up and he said to my mother “Would you say that you and your husband invited me that night to be in your house because I should not be in it?” “Well” said Mamma “Whatever about belying me” she says “You will not belie the dead” she said. “I will not”. Sergeant Reilly said “Mrs. Egan, you are right”. He was trying to save himself! They say it was down spying he came! We don’t know! I don’t know because anyone that wanted drink in our house (on a Sunday) ‘twas outside they got it.  And do you know where they went after leaving our house? ‘Twas down to Newtown to the Dollys and they didn’t catch them…

– –

About this record

Written by Recorded in Pat Kelly's House, Castle Lambert

Published here 08 Feb 2021

Page 207 of the The Lamberts of Athenry Book archive.

– –