Ongoing Work - 'The Plot' - November 2020




    “We have established the addresses of the particular ones. 

    Arrangements should now be made about the matter. 

    Lt. G. is aware of things.  

    He suggested the 21st. A most suitable date I think."   





'Struggle' - from Ongoing Series "The Plot" 2020

On the morning of Sunday November 21st 1920, a group of Irish republican Volunteers mounted an operation of synchronized assassinations on a number of key British Intelligence officers living in central Dublin. The operation was planned by Michael Collins, Director of Intelligence of the Irish Republican Army, and intended to dismantle the heart of the British Intelligence network in Ireland - specifically a group of officers who were residing in Hotels and Guesthouses in the city centre.

That morning, at around 9am, a series of shootings took place in and around Dublin city, resulting in the deaths of intelligence agents and members of the British Auxiliary Forces. In the afternoon of the same day, came the swift and brutal reprisal. British forces stormed into a crowd of over 10’000 Gaelic Football spectators in Croke Park and sporadically opened fire into the stands, killing 14 people – including a female spectator, one player and an 11 year old boy. In all, 30 people died within fifteen hours on that fateful day in Dublin. The day has become known as Bloody Sunday – one of the most horrific incidents of the Irish war of independence. 

The assassinations of the British officers virtually crippled intelligence operations of Dublin Castle. Bloody Sunday also marked an emotional turning-point in the War of Independence and has gone down as a central event in Irish nationalist history and in Irish collective consciousness. 

The exact events which led to the killings have never been conclusively proven, with each side contradicting the other. This project focusses on the lesser known story of the morning of Bloody Sunday – the plot to take down the British agents, the counter-intelligence operative mounted by the IRA up to and including the fateful day of 21st November. The project takes witness statements from members of the squad itself, from eyewitness accounts, from victims’ partners or loved ones and retraces the events as they unfolded in the locations where the assassinations of British agents occurred. The work also retraces the locations of abandoned operations, failed hits and misdemeanours of Volunteers as mentioned in interviews and documents found in Irish Military Archives. 


The Appointed Hour' from Ongoing Series "The Plot" 2020. 

At 8am on the morning of Bloody Sunday, Vinny Byrne assembled his team at 
St. Andrew’s Church, Westland Row “Our place of mobilisation for Sunday 
morning was outside St. Andrew's Church, Westland Row, at 8 a.m. Herbie Conroy 
was detailed to bring an axe along with him, in case we might have to break into the
rooms where the enemy were. Every man paraded at the appointed hour. We were 
early on our appointment, and had to take our time in going to Mount St. 
All operations were to be put into action at 9 a.m."


'Cross Fire' - From Ongoing Series "The Plot" 2020. 

Witness Testimony  Vinny Byrne - who participated in the  
assassination of British Agents at 38 Upper Mount Street. 

'Grave Doubt' from Ongoing Series "The Plot" 2020. 

An IRA murder squad entered the Gresham Hotel at 9am. Here Lieutenant 
L.E. Wilde and ex-captain Patrick McCormack were shot. The Witness 
testimony is from Hotel Manager James Doyle who describes his “grave doubt” 
as to the MacCormack’s association with British Intelligence: “I mentioned it 
to Collins after the Truce…he said that he would make inquiries into the matter, 
but after this the matter was never referred to again.” It is believed that 
MacCormack had come to Dublin to Purchase racehorses. 


'Surveillance Positions' from Ongoing Series 'The Plot' 2020 

'9am was Zero Hour' From Ongoing Series "The Plot" 2020 

28 Pembroke Street, just before 9am, IRA men divided into two groups, and each went
up its own staircase. On the third floor they knocked on doors of British Intelligence
Agents Dowling and Price. One of the other officers in the house said that he heard a
voice  say "I have a letter for you Sir", followed quickly by two bursts of pistol shots: 
“The two lads were in bed in pyjamas .They were against the wall when Paddy fired.
I saw one hit the floor and [fall] down the stairs.”


'Concentrate on Hardy' from Ongoing Series "The Plot"

A special effort was being made to locate and eliminate a British Intelligence Officer known as Hoppy Hardy. This man resided in Harcourt Street, close to the offices of Michael Collins and was known for his brutality – including the murder of a shopkeeper called Carroll in Stoneybatter (Grandfather of actor and comedian Brendan O’Carroll of “Mrs Browns Boys” fame). Hardy was not present in targeted location on Bloody Sunday and missed his execution squad. 

Thomas Keogh, along with accomplice Jim Slattery and six others from the 2nd battalion E company had been assigned to 22 Lower Mount Street at 9am to “eliminate a number of British Intelligence Agents and spies” who were residing there. While upstairs, Slattery heard the sound of gun fire at the front door. They immediately surrounded the house and tried to gain admission. One of the volunteers, Billy McClean, fired at them through the door and got wounded in the hand. McClean however had bought a little time for the men upstairs to find and assassinate their prime targets and to make their escape. The company would make their way to the Quays, where a boat was arranged  to take members of the squad across to North Wall. Later Keogh would stand in the famous Hill 16 as British Forces opened fire into the crowd at an All-Ireland final in Croke Park. McClean would make his way to a safe house in Denzille Place to be treated for his injuries. 

Harcourt Street was the location for the Head Quarters of Sinn Féin when Michael Collins was appointed as Minister for Finance by the First Dáil in 1919, he chose No 6 Harcourt Street to be his base as the War of Independence intensified. The street was a hotbed of intelligence and counter-intelligence activities. Many British Agents were known to be residing in the Harcourt Hotel at the time of Bloody Sunday.


At the Shelbourne Hotel, at around 9am, 3 IRA men went up the stairs, and the leading man turned a corner, saw (in a mirror) a man with a gun in his hand moving towards him. He fired, believing that he was about to be attacked. The mirror shattered, and the sound of gunshots apparently enabled their victim to get away.


‘Operation Abandoned’. According to Charles Daltons Witness Statements, an Ambush was planned for British Officers reportedly living in lodgings across the street from the entrance of the Pheonix Park on North Circular Road. The 1st Batallion, F Company were detailed to provide surveillance of this area and carry out orders relating to an attack on the morning of 21st November: “Six of us were detailed and reported the next morning at the appointed time. He told us to carry our guns. Holohan arrived and told us to go home.”   
                                                                 WITNESS STATEMENT – DOCUMENT NO. W.S. 667 – PATRICK LAWSON