The Castle Lambert Tapes: Tape 8 Tragedy at the Pavilion

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This is tape 8 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.

Nora: And I remember one night, the night the pavilion was burnt in Athenry. The horse soldiers came down that night and we were saying the rosary. Mo matter what happened, no matter how tired or sleepy you were you couldn’t go to bed without saying the rosary. And on a winter’s night to hear the horses in the back street neighing was very frightening for us children. And what was it (all about)? You see before when Dadda, the lord have mercy on him, was shot Bill Freaney, the Lord have mercy on him too ‘cause he’s dead now too, wasn’t available at the time and I remember the night he came to sympathise with Mamma and tell her he was sorry that he was away like for a week or two. But he said “I’m going to have revenge!” “what are you going to do?” Mamma said. We’ll blow them out of Moorpark and we’ll put Dadda’s murderer ‘flying’” he said. “No” said Mamma, “Now Bill” she said “I have children now and a home and they will know it is a reprisal over Tom and look it leave them alone”. So Bill was supposed to go to England. He said ‘Goodbye” to Mamma and we all thought he was gone. And the next thing was the pavilion in Athenry, a big house near Athenry where they had plenty of drink and dancing with their lady friends. (the cricket pavilion near the railway station). Bill and a few more from Castle Lambert – I don’t know should I mention their names at all …

Mac: You can – No harm now at all!

Nora: Well Martin Ruane was one and Jack Mahon from Castle Ellen. They tried to burn Castle Lambert and it wasn’t a success. Do you remember Castle Lambert?

Mac: Yes! The big loft

Nora: Yes but it failed.

Mac: Bad petrol they had I heard!

Nora: Well they went to the pavilion in Athenry and they sprinkled the petrol. The Lord have mercy on Bill Freaney he was down in the cellar and the lads overhead gave the ‘all clear’. They shouted ‘was everyone out’ and they thought they were and the next thing they lit it from one end and the whole place went up. Martin Ruane and Jack Mahon were on the upper floor and they told me the story after they doing it. Hadn’t they the great confidence in me that they would tell me their story but there was no informer in our house. The end of the story was anyhow “What did ye do lads” is said. Do you know what they did? They went down on their knees upstairs and said an ‘Act of Contrition’. And we were prepared they said to “meet our God” when another explosion came and blew out a window and Martin Ruane and Jack Mahon landed on the ground. Nobody knew how – they knew it but they didn’t say anything about it that Bill Freaney was burned.

27th June 2021

Nora: And Bill Freaney was engaged to Mac’s sister Aggie Kelly. I remember she was a lovely girl but anyway it went on until June. That was six months. They got the charred remains of a human being in the building, didn’t know who it was and they put it in a little box – there were big biscuit boxes at the time – and interred it in the grounds of St. Mary’s Church in the square in Athenry. So it went on for six months until a truce (in the Black and Tan war) was called. Bill Freaney was then exhumed. They could do it then you see as the Tans couldn’t interfere then you know. I remember the Sunday well. It was after last Mass in Athenry – half eleven Mass. I’d be fourteen now. I was at Mass and they put the little box into a full length coffin and I can see Mick O’Grady there and the two horses and the hearse and I couldn’t say how many men were outside and they had the green, white and gold (flag) and black armbands and they all marched to Willmount to bury him there. Anyhow this Tan, he was coming down on a bicycle, coming down to our house for a drink and they had these big whips and every one of them drew a lash on him as they passed him. They didn’t know who he was and some say it was terrible. Anyway after that the Tans were disbanded.

See also – Volunteer Bill Freeney Dies at the Athenry Cricket and Tennis Pavilion, 29 June 1921 by Dr Conor McNamara

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About this record

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

Published here 08 Feb 2021

Page 208 of the The Lamberts of Athenry Book archive.

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