Yesterday’s sale (27th Feb.) at the London firm of Dix Noonan Webb saw a number of items of Irish interest go under the hammer, not least of which was a 1916 ‘Easter Rising’ Constabulary Medal (Ireland) awarded to Constable M. Lavelle, Royal Irish Constabulary, for his gallantry in the defence of the Police Barracks at Gort, Co. Galway, on 25th April 1916. An ordinary Irishman going about his daily duties and caught up in the astonishing events that occurred in that eventful Easter Week.
Michael Lavelle was born in Co. Mayo on the 23rd December 1879, and joined the Royal Irish Constabulary on the 17th December 1906. He was stationed in Co. Armagh from 25th May 1907, and then in Co. Galway from 14th April 1908.
‘The rebellion commenced in Co. Galway at 7:20 a.m. on Tuesday 25th April 1916, by an attack on the police barracks at Gort, 10 miles from Galway. That attack continued until 10:30 a.m. The barracks was fired upon, and the windows were smashed. The rebels numbered 100 at first, but the number increased as time went on. Stone barricades were built across the road at each end of the village. The barracks was defended and held by five policemen, who were first called upon to surrender by a leader of the rebels, who threatened to blow up the barracks. The barracks was then attacked by the rebels with rifle fire, and bombs were exploded outside. The Police were called on twice to surrender through the Rev. Tully, but refused, and held on for over three hours.
The rebels then withdrew to Clarenbridge, where they were reinforced by others. An attack was made on Oranmore Barracks. The attack there commenced shortly after noon. The railway line and the telegraph poles were cut, and a large hole was made in the bridge. The barracks at Oranmore was defended by four policemen until relief came at 7:30 p.m. through the arrival of a party of police and military from Galway. The rebels took to flight towards Athenry in motor cars.’ Ref: Dix Noonan Webb Ltd.
Lot.176. Pre-sale Estimate: £3,000 – £4,000 was eventually sold for £6,500.
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