Timeline of Local and National Events 1921
National events in blue
Local events in black
The USC conducts a major search operation across many parts of Tyrone. From the beginning of the year A and B Specials are increasingly deployed in Tyrone and Fermanagh in support of the RIC.
Collins states that Sinn Féin should contest the forthcoming elections for the Northern Ireland Parliament but should ‘ignore the Partition Act’.
Carson announces that he will not become the first Prime Minister of the new Northern Ireland state.
The IRA shoots dead two RIC officers in a Belfast hotel.
In the Dripsey ambush, Co. Cork, 2 Volunteers are killed, 5 are wounded and a further 5 are captured. Acting on information supplied by Mrs Mary Lindsay the Crown Forces were expecting the attack. The five prisoners are later executed following a court-martial.
In his final speech as leader Carson calls on the new parliament to demonstrate that ‘the Catholic minority have nothing to fear from a Protestant majority.
Sir James Craig becomes Unionist Party leader.
The IRA lose 3 Volunteers, and 8 civilians are killed when a passenger train is ambushed at Upton, Co. Cork. There are more soldiers on the train than anticipated, and the attack is widely condemned.
Crown Forces attack a farmhouse at Clonmult in which an active service unit is hiding. The IRA suffers 12 fatalities in the exchange, the biggest loss experienced by the Cork IRA.
The shooting of George Lester, a local Loyalist, in Roslea leads to savage reprisals against the village’s Catholic population. Over 20 thatched cottages are destroyed by fire.
An IRA ambush near Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, results in the death of 1 soldier and the wounding of several others.
Mrs Lindsay and her driver, James Clarke, who had been seized in an attempt to force the release of the 5 Volunteers captured at Dripsey, are executed by the Cork IRA.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Joe Devlin urges the government to postpone the elections for the Belfast parliament.
Acting on information, soldiers surround an IRA safe house near Mohill, Co. Leitrim. In the ensuing gun battle 6 Volunteers are killed including their leader, Sean Connolly, a Co. Longford native.
Andrew Bonar Law, a powerful supporter of Ulster
Unionism, resigns from the government.
The largest military engagement of the War of Independence takes place at Crossbarry, Co. Cork, as a large force of British troops surround members of Tom Barry’s flying column. In what was viewed as a significant victory for the IRA Barry’s men manage to escape and inflict heavy casualties on the British.
In retaliation for the attacks on Catholic homes in Roslea 2 Loyalists are shot dead close to the village.
The Fleming family of large Protestant farmers is attacked in Co. Monaghan in revenge for the earlier death of a Volunteer. Both the father and his son are killed.
Barry’s men attack the RIC Barracks in his home town of Rosscarberry. High explosives are used to force a surrender.
William Latimer, a local Protestant farmer and Orangeman suspected of informing the RIC on the location of the IRA unit at Selton Hill near Mohill, is shot dead.
The IRA launches simultaneous attacks across Tyrone. Two Specials are wounded in Drumquin and one in Dromore.
Following a shooting in Dromore in which a Special
Constable was wounded 3 Volunteers, Charles Slevin, John Devine and Daniel Doherty, are shot dead by the USC outside the village.
Following robust searches of local properties a Special is shot and wounded in Dromore.
Two Black and Tans are shot dead in Belfast city centre, prompting reprisal attacks on the Catholic population.
Lord Fitzalan is appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He is the first Catholic to hold the post since 1685.
Craig opens the election campaign for the new Belfast parliament with a speech in Banbridge.
Partition comes into effect under the terms of the Government of Ireland Act.
An IRA ambush in Tourmakeady, Co. Mayo, claims the lives of 4 policemen and a military officer. Two Volunteers die in the gun battle.
Craig meets de Valera at a secret location in Dublin.
The IRA stages an attack on Mountfield Barracks.
An IRA ambush in Esker leaves a Special Constable and a Volunteer dead.
Loyalists occupy the Ulster Hall in Belfast to prevent a key Labour meeting taking place. Craig welcomes the action, describing the Labour leaders as Bolsheviks.
Joseph Hayden is murdered in his home at Gortfad Glebe near Cookstown. Local B Specials are suspected of involvement in the attack.
Bishop MacRory (Down and Connor) issues a call for the support of all candidates in the election who oppose partition.
Peter Joseph McDonagh, a sergeant based at Mountfield Barracks, is killed in Greencastle.
In the Northern Ireland election the Unionists win 40 seats, Nationalists win 6 and Sinn Féin win 6.
The 8 successful candidates in the Fermanagh and Tyrone constituency are Arthur Griffith (SF), Sean Milroy (SF), Sean O’Mahony (SF), T.J.S. Harbison (Nat), Edward Archdale (Un), William Coote (Un), William Miller (Un) and James Cooper (Un).
An IRA attack on the Custom House in Dublin causes extensive damage. The action, which de Valera had encouraged, attracted international press coverage, but was a military setback for the IRA as nearly 100 Volunteers were captured.
Two B Specials are killed in an ambush at Mullaghfad near Fivemiletown.
William Coote calls for the shooting of 3 Sinn Féiners for each USC constable that is shot.
Craig is appointed Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.
The shooting of 3 RIC officers in Belfast sparks savage violence in the city which leaves 14 dead and 76 wounded by the end of the month.
Rev James Finlay, an elderly, retired Church of Ireland clergyman, is shot dead at Bawnboy, Co. Cavan.
George V opens the Northern Ireland parliament amid tight security. In his speech the King asks all Irishmen ‘to pause, to stretch out the hand of forebearance and conciliation’.
Arthur Griffith is released from Mountjoy Jail.
General Jan Smuts, the South African leader, who had contributed to the King’s Speech, meets de Valera in Dublin.
A goods train travelling to Omagh is intercepted by a large force of Volunteers who destroy 16 waggons. Omagh is left without its usual bread supply.
Sinn Féin accepts Lloyd George’s invitation to explore the possibility of a settlement.
On ‘Bloody Sunday’ 15 are killed and over 100 homes are destroyed as Loyalist mobs invade Catholic areas of Belfast.
The truce ending hostilities in the War of Independence comes into operation.
De Valera arrives in London for a series of meetings with Lloyd George.
The British government offers de Valera dominion status for Ireland.
Com. Eoin O’Duffy, the IRA’s new Liaison Officer in
Ulster, issues a statement detailing nightly breaches of the truce due to ‘incessant firing’ by the USC in Tyrone and Fermanagh.
De Valera finally announces the rejection of the British offer of dominion status.
T.J.S. Harbinson (MP) addresses Tyrone Hibernians warning that nationalists in Tyrone and Fermanagh will never consent to be placed under ‘the most bigoted class of fanatics the world had ever seen’.
Serious violence again erupts in parts of north and west Belfast leading to 20 deaths over a 3-day period.
De Valera meets a delegation from Tyrone and Fermanagh, urging the President to protect their interests.
Michael Collins visits Armagh in attempt to reassure
northern nationalists. In his address to 10,000 supporters he insists that partition must be ended. At the same meeting O’Duffy warns Unionists that if they refuse to give way, they will be coerced.
Tempers are raised during a stormy meeting of Omagh Urban Council as councillors support an anti-partition motion.
Circulars are distributed to many Enniskillen Catholic families warning them not to trade with certain businesses as the boycott is reinforced.
Lloyd George and de Valera agree terms for a conference.
The conference opens in London with Sinn Féin and British government negotiators seeking to agree a settlement.
Sean Milroy, a Sinn Féin representative for Fermanagh and Tyrone, travels to London to advise the Irish delegation on the partition issue. Milroy, who had little knowledge of Ulster, defers to George Murnaghan, the Omagh solicitor, on the question of Tyrone and Fermanagh.
Both The Sunday Times and The Observer insist that Craig and his new administration must make concessions in order to improve the prospects of a peace settlement with Sinn Féin.
Austen Chamberlain, the Conservative leader and a key player in the negotiations, confides that partition is impossible to defend: ‘the Six Counties was a compromise, and, like all compromises, is illogical and indefensible’.
Lloyd George meets Craig in London and puts pressure on the North’s premier to accept an all-Ireland parliament. Following consultation with Bonar Law, Craig stands firm.
A large nationalist meeting in Enniskillen’s County Hall hears Darrell Figgis, a leading Sinn Féiner, condemn partition.
Serious violence again breaks out in Belfast. During the following week 27 die in sectarian clashes.
Security powers are transferred to the Unionist government in Belfast.
Tyrone County Council transfers its allegiance to Dáil Éireann.
The police raid Omagh Courthouse, where most of the county’s administrative services are housed, and suspend Tyrone County Council.
The Anglo-Irish Treaty is signed in the early hours of the morning. Article 12 makes provision for the establishment of a Boundary Commission.
The Herald newspapers in Tyrone and Fermanagh welcome the Treaty under the headline, ‘Victory!’.
The Dáil begins to debate the Treaty, recessing for Christmas.
Bishop MacRory declares his support for the Treaty in a Christmas Day sermon.
A major nationalist meeting in Omagh indicates strong support for the Treaty in Tyrone.