Shooting at the Shannon Hotel

This Story is:

Excerpt from Village by Shannon, The Story of Castleconnell and its Hinterland

Joe Carroll & Pat Tuohy, 1991

“On 17th April 1921 … The G Company of the RIC Auxiliary Division at Killaloe were on their way to investigate a report phoned from Castleconnell that suspicious characters were in O’Donovan’s Shannon Hotel. … Two officers and twelve men in plain clothes were detailed to filter unobtrusively into the hotel to look out for suspects, while the remainder of the party of 20 men and one officer armed with two Lewis guns were to surround the hotel.”

“In the bar were three off duty RIC men and a few local men. Behind the bar was the proprietor Denis O’Donovan. The RIC apparently mistook the intruders for IRA men and immediately drew their guns and opened fire driving the raiding party out. A grim gun battle then ensued in which an RIC man and an Auxiliary were both shot dead.

…the RIC men eventually realised that the raiding party were not the IRA but the British Auxiliaries, and they along with Denis O’Donovan went outside to surrender. But the raiding party continued to fire and Denis O’Donovan was shot dead, being hit by 6 bullets, and an RIC man seriously wounded.”

A newspaper report from the time, one of many, states …

“The Military Inquiry into the deaths of Mr Denis O’Donovan, Temp. Cadet Pringle and Sergt. Hughes RIC, at Castleconnell on Sun. night, was opened at the new Barracks, Limerick, yesterday.

A number of Military, Cadets, and RIC were examined, and denied emphatically that Mr O’Donovan was taken out to be shot in the yard, where he was afterwards found.

The evidence went to show that there was intense fire, a Lewis gun being trained on the Shamrock Hotel (sic). Two men were captured, and it was only then that it was discovered that they were police.

The medical evidence showed that Mr O’Donovan sustained in all six wounds, and died within 10 minutes.”

A plaque outside reads: ‘This is the house where Mr Denis O’Donovan, proprietor of the Shannon Hotel, along with two others was fatally shot by crown forces on 17th April 1921. This incident so outraged public opinion in Ireland and England that it was a turning point in the peace negotiations, eventually leading to the Treaty of 1921. This plaque was unveiled by his grandson Desmond O’Malley, TD, on 16/4/1997.’