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Bill Lennon Rescue
23.

The Struggle For Freedom In West Waterford

23. Bill Lennon Rescue
Civil War
Shortly after what is called the Civil War broke out, and during the period of 1921-23 the Comeraghs and Nire Valley, were very busy areas.

Bill Lennon Rescue (23 April 1922)
During the Civil War, Bill Lennon of Clashmore was wounded and captured by Free State soldiers. He was placed in Dungarvan Hospital to receive medical treatment, and two armed guards were put on the entrance to the ward. To complicate matters still more, an officer of the enemy was at the time a patient in that particular ward, and furthermore a large number of troops occupied a portion of the Hospital Buildings. These had easy access to the grounds of the Hospital proper by means of a doorway in the high wall which divided that section from the Hospital. Another high wall surrounds all part of the Hospital. It was decided to rescue him (Lennon) as soon as possible, because if he became well enough, he would be removed to more secure quarters.

The local Volunteers succeeded in gaining the sympathy and promise of aid from the nurse in charge of the Ward where Lennon lay. On the appointed night 6 members of the A.S.U. made their way to the vicinity of the Hospital where they were joined by some of the town Volunteers. The plans were outlined and 5 men took up their positions in the field opposite the main entrance. A ladder was placed against the high wall, from the roadside, and two men quickly mounted it, taking with them a second ladder. They used this second ladder to descend on the inside of the wall. They made their way quietly, to the doorway in the dividing wall. Two more men quickly climbed the ladders again, but this time when they got to the ground they took the second ladder, and ran about 20 yards with it and placed it against the window sill of the ward to be entered. All had gone according to plan so far.

The nurse, in the meantime had given a sedative to the guards on duty and also to the officer in the ward. The Volunteer now climbed up and entered through the window which had been unfastened by the nurse. Lennon had been previously acquainted of all the plans and was ready. He was helped to the window by his rescuer and nurse. The Volunteer got out on the ladder, took Lennon on his shoulders and climbed to the ground. They now moved to the outer wall, but here the Volunteer experienced some difficulty in climbing the ladder with Lennon on his shoulders. Finally it was accomplished and they safely descended to the ground on the outside. The Volunteers who had remained on watch on the inside now climbed out, and the party withdrew to freedom. So ended an adventure, which was in keeping with the spirit of chivalry and comradeship which was a marked characteristic of the I.R.A.

De Valera and the Republican Executive were visitors to the Nire and Sliabh gCua, and it was from there that [meetings of the Republican Government were held]. The ceasefire order was drafted and [later] issued from Dublin. Such was West Waterford's part in the struggle for National Freedom. As you can understand, I have not mentioned every incident which took place, but all were equal importance in the overall campaign. The destruction of Income Tax Records, the setting up of the Republican Courts, the major and minor ambushes, the sniping parties and raids on mails, were all part of the general picture, and all served the one main purpose.

Author: Domnall O'Faoláin

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