By Dan Walsh in Enniscorthy
The memory of two unarmed Free State soldiers who were assassinated as they walked down an Enniscorthy street, having attended a Mission Mass in St. Aidan’s Cathedral on October 10th 1922, were remembered today at the spot – outside 21 Main St., Enniscorthy – and later in the graveyards at Marshalstown and Ballindaggin.
Ballindaggin Pipe Band and members of Enniscorthy Historical Reenactment Society lead family and friends from St. Aidan’s Cathedral where Fr. William Caulfield prayed for their souls at 10am Mass to Main Street where wreaths were laid by nephews of the men, Jim McGrath and Dan Doyle. A minute’s silence was observed, and the national anthem was played.
Organised by Eileen Codd, the family members and local public representatives gathered in Enniscorthy Castle – where the Doyles were stationed in 1922 – and Barry Lacey, who is the organiser for the Decade of Commemorations and a local historian, outlined the sequence of events in 1922. Geraldine O’Connor gave a find rendition of Boolavogue.
The attendance included Cllrs Jackser Owens, John O’Rourke, Bridín Murphy, Cathal Byrne, Kathleen Codd-Nolan, Minister James Browne, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Johnny Mythen, relatives and friends of the Doyle families.
OCTOBER 10th 1922 IN ENNISCORTHY
Commandant Peter Doyle, Ballinakill, Marshalstown, and Captain Thomas Doyle, Curragraigue, Ballindaggin, (they were unrelated) who died 100 years ago. They had attended a Mission Mass hosted by the Vincentian Fathers from Phibsborough, Dublin, in Enniscorthy Cathedral on the date in question.
A huge crowd was present and after the devotions had ended at 8.10pm, the two unarmed, uniformed men left the cathedral and walked down Main Street. As they did, a pair of assassins stepped out of the shadows of the evening, approached them and without warning, opened fire on the soldiers, who fell to the ground mortally wounded.
On hearing the gunfire, panic broke out among the crowd leaving Mass with people fleeing in all directions. When the shooting finally subsided, the two wounded soldiers were lying on the ground where they had fallen [just outside No. 21 Main Street].
They were taken to the County Home Hospital, later named St. John’s Hospital in the town.
Commandant Peter Doyle, (29), received four bullet wounds – two in the legs and two in the stomach – and died from his injuries the following day, Wednesday October 11th at 1.30pm. He was buried in Marshalstown Cemetery.
Captain Thomas ‘Tom’ Doyle, (27), died eight days after being shot and was buried in Ballindaggin Graveyard on Friday, October 21st, 1922. The assassins were never identified.