Friday, June 23, 2006

Who burned Cork City?


The subject of the burning of Cork City in December 1920 has been dealt with through newspaper articles, magazine articles, television programmes, books, and now, the big screen.
It is generally accepted that the Auxiliaries -also called Cadets - (many people confuse the Auxiliaries with the Black and Tans) set fire to the city in revenge for earlier ambushes in which a number of them were killed. However, a niggling doubt exists which should be discussed as part of the continuing efforts at attaining truth in history.
For some time there was a rumour that the Republican forces on the night set fire to sections of the city to lure the Auxiliaries into futher ambushes. But, it has become unpopular to mention this and one is quickly shushed like a simpering idiot when the subject is brought up. So, I offer the following document from the Public Records Office in Kew, Kent, England for what it is worth, and ask you to simply bear it in mind when you are next reading about the burning of Cork. This document has been freely available for many years but has been conveniently overlooked by historians and writers becuse it does not fit the story!
The document has the official stamp of K company of the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary. It is titled Re Cork Fires 11-12-20
The body of the text reads
I understand that the proprietress of Flanagans Hotel, Cork desires to give evidence to the effect that but for the work of cadets her hotel would have been destroyed.
It was apparently written at Dunmanway in January 1921.
It's existence begs the question:
If the Auxiliaries were putting out fires, who was starting them? Of course I realise all the possible scenarios wherein the Auxiliaries could have been putting out a fire that had spread or that they had started without realising who owned the building. All sorts of scenarios can be envisaged. But, it's an interesting document , is it not? Who would have thought...the Auxies fghting the fires in Cork that fateful night!!

4 Comments:

Blogger Bren said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:20 PM  
Blogger Bren said...

I was always told that it was groups of auxiliaries on a rampage (after a shooting out at Dillions Cross) - not an official order from the top (see http://www.dhoun.utvinternet.com/Timeline/Cork burning.htm ) If this is the case, it is not surprising that those following orders would be trying to protect the city buildings. It seems also seems strange that you assume the document was ignored in the past - is it not possible it has been reviewed and considered insignificant or possibly not trustworthy.

10:27 PM  
Blogger Veritas said...

Hi Bren,
That's an interesting idea. One group of Auxiliary policemen to light the fires and the other to put them out. If that is so why is the tale not related that way?
As for considering a document in the National Archives as insignificant...well, that's not doing the job of a historian either. Historians are meant to be impartial. They are meant to present the evidence and not 'mine the sources' for documents that support their own opinions. I have a completely open mind about this and have always believed the Auxies burned Cork. But, I'm very curious about this document.
Veritas

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