‘Decade of Centenaries’ events in county this Sunday

Minister to attend Castlerea event, where feared RIC Sergeant was assassinated on first morning of Truce

This Sunday, July 11th, marks the Centenary of the Truce which brought an end to the Irish War of Independence.

To commemorate this milestone, a proclamation stone will be unveiled at the courthouse in Castlerea. The stone will be unveiled by Colonel Kevin Campion, and Minister Jack Chambers and Councillor Joe Murphy, Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council, will also be in attendance.

Castlerea has particular significance in relation to the hours just prior to the Truce taking effect. RIC Sergeant James King of the Castlerea garrison was shot dead less than two hours before the Truce came into effect at noon on July 11th, 1921.

This weekend’s commemorative events locally will begin at 1.20 pm with the laying of a wreath at the memorial in Tarmon. At 2 pm in Ballinlough, the commemoration and unveiling of a plaque will take place in the square. Following this, there will be the laying of a wreath at the memorial in St. Brigid’s Church, Cloonbonniffe at 2.45 pm, and the laying of a wreath at the IRA memorial in Loughglynn at 3.15 pm.

  The ceremonies in Castlerea will begin at 4 pm at the courthouse. The Proclamation of the Irish Republic will be recited by Colonel Campion, the original flag of the South Roscommon Brigade will be raised by a flag officer, a replica of the 1916 Proclamation will be unveiled and there will be an address by Minister Jack Chambers.

Music for the event will be courtesy of the Castlerea Brass & Reed Band. Vintage cars present on the day will be provided by Roscommon Sports and Classic Car Club. The events will be livestreamed on castlerea.ie, and all social distancing guidelines will be adhered to.

Castlerea was home to many significant historical events over the course of the Irish War of Independence. One such event was the assassination of RIC Sergeant James King of the Castlerea garrison, whose death occurred mere hours before the Truce came into effect at noon on July 11th, 1921.

King was a native of County Clare, but after being promoted to the rank of Sergeant in the RIC, he lived and worked in Castlerea for eight years.

During his time in the town, King garnered a reputation for ruthlessness, and had become a much-feared individual in the locality. His involvement as leader of the infamous Castlerea Murder Gang had led to a number of brutal murders in the area, and he became a prime target for the IRA.

  On the morning of the Truce, King had left his house on Patrick’s Street and was heading towards the local RIC Barracks when IRA members Thomas Crawley and Ned Campion, who had been waiting for him to emerge from a nearby shop, opened fire. King was struck, and died immediately. The two men fled the scene, eventually finding safety by pretending to be sheepherders in a field on the Williamstown road.

King’s death occurred at approximately 10.30 am that morning, less than two hours before the Truce came into effect, making him one of the last casualties (or the last) of the two and a half year conflict.