seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


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The Clones Ambush

clones-train-station-11-22-1960On February 11, 1922, Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteers stop a group of Ulster Special Constabulary (USC) constables on a train at Clones, County Monaghan, a short distance into Southern territory in an event recorded in history as the “Clones Ambush.” A gunfight begins in which one IRA officer and four USC constables are killed. The remaining USC constables are captured.

On January 22, the Ulster Gaelic Football Final is played in Derry. The previous evening six cars leave Monaghan to bring the Monaghan players to Derry, many of the members of the team being members of the IRA. They are stopped by a B Specials (Ulster Special Constabulary) check point at Dromore station. After a search the Specials discover weapons in the cars and arrest ten of the men. The IRA men are led by Dan Hogan O/C of the Fifth Northern Division. The men are taken to Omagh and interned.

The IRA waits impatiently for a chance at reprisal and on February 11, a group of Irish Republican Army volunteers attempt to ambush a party of Ulster Special Constabulary policemen travelling on a train through Clones. The volunteers enter a carriage of a train and order the Specials to put their hands up. IRA Commandant Matthew Fitzpatrick is shot and killed in the ensuing fight and five members of the Specials, Doherty, McMahon, McCullough, Lewis and McFarland are shot and killed. Several members of the Specials run down the track and cross the border into Fermanagh. The few remaining B Specials on the train decide to surrender and are arrested.

The IRA lifts the body of the Commandant Fitzpatrick and it is attended to by Monsignor E.C. Ward who gives him his Last Rites.

The Clones railway station is on the Dundalk and Enniskillen Railway. The Dundalk and Enniskillen Railway opens the station on June 26, 1858. The station closes on October 1, 1957.

(Photo: Clones Train Station, Co Monaghan, caught in mid-demolition by photographer James O’Dea on November 22, 1960)

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Death of Confederate General Joseph Finegan

Joseph Finegan, Irish-born American businessman and brigadier general for the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, dies on October 29, 1885, in Rutledge, Florida.

Finegan is born November 17, 1814 at Clones, County Monaghan. He comes to Florida in the 1830s, first establishing a sawmill at Jacksonville and later a law practice at Fernandina Beach. At the latter place, he becomes the business partner of David Levy Yulee and begins construction of the Florida Railroad to speed transportation of goods and people from the new state’s east coast to the Gulf of Mexico.

By the outbreak of the American Civil War, Finegan has built his family a forty-room mansion in Fernandina Beach at the site of the modern Atlantic Elementary School. At Florida’s secession convention, Finegan represents Nassau County alongside James Graham Cooper.

In April 1862, Finegan assumes command of Middle and East Florida from Brigadier General James H. Trapier. Soon thereafter, he suffers some embarrassment surrounding the wreck of the blockade runner Kate at Mosquito Inlet. Her cargo of rifles, ammunition, medical supplies, blankets, and shoes is plundered by civilians. Eventually, most of the rifles are found, but the other supplies are never recovered.

In 1863, Finegan complains of the large quantity of rum making its way from the West Indies into Florida. Smugglers are buying it in Cuba for a mere seventeen cents per gallon, only to sell it in the blockaded state for twenty-five dollars per gallon. He urges Governor John Milton to confiscate the “vile article” and destroy it before it can impact army and civilian morals.

In February 1864, General P.G.T. Beauregard begins rushing reinforcements to Finegan after Confederate officials become aware of a build-up of Federal troops in the occupied city of Jacksonville. As Florida is a vital supply route and source of beef to the other southern states, they can not allow it to fall completely into Union hands.

On February 20, 1864, Finegan stops a Federal advance from Jacksonville under General Truman Seymour that is intent upon capturing the state capitol at Tallahassee. Their two armies clash at the Battle of Olustee, where Finegan’s men defeat the Union Army and force them to flee back beyond the St. Johns River. Critics have faulted Finegan for failing to exploit his victory by pursuing his retreating enemy, contenting himself by salvaging their arms and ammunition from the battlefield. However, his victory is one rare bright spot in an otherwise gloomy year for the dying Confederacy.

Finegan is relieved of his command over the state troops and replaced by Major General James Patton Anderson. This change in command is necessary as Finegan is ordered to lead the “Florida Brigade” in the Army of Northern Virginia, where he serves effectively until near the end of the war.

Finegan returns to Fernandina Beach after the war to discover his mansion has been seized by the Freedmen’s Bureau for use as an orphanage and school for black children. It took some legal wrangling, but he is eventually able to recover the property. The untimely death of his son Rutledge on April 4, 1871, precipitates a move to Savannah, Georgia. There, Finegan feels at home with the large Irish population and works as a cotton broker.

It is while living in Savannah that Finegan marries his second wife, the widow Lucy C. Alexander, a Tennessee belle. They eventually settle on a large orange grove in Orange County, Florida. Finegan dies on October 29, 1885, at Rutledge, Florida. According to The Florida Times-Union, his death is the result of “severe cold, inducing chills, to which he succumbed after brief illness.” He is buried at the Old City Cemetery in Jacksonville.


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Barry McGuigan Wins the World Featherweight Boxing Title

barry-mcguiganFinbar Patrick McGuigan, known as Barry McGuigan and nicknamed The Clones Cyclone, wins the World Boxing Association featherweight title on June 8, 1985, defeating Eusebio Pedroza in a unanimous 15-round decision at Loftus Road soccer stadium in London.

Barry McGuigan, the son of singer Pat McGuigan, is born in Clones, County Monaghan. He represents Northern Ireland in the Commonwealth Games at Edmonton in 1978 and represents Ireland at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

After a successful juvenile boxing career, McGuigan begins his professional boxing career on May 10, 1981, beating Selwyn Bell by knockout in two rounds in Dublin. He wins four out of five additional bouts in 1981. In 1982, McGuigan wins eight fights, seven by knockout, although one of these almost destroys his career and his life. Opposed by Young Ali, on June 14, 1982, McGuigan wins by a knockout in six rounds. Ali falls into a coma and dies five months later.

In 1985, McGuigan meets former world featherweight champion Juan Laporte and wins a 10-round decision. Following one more win, he finally gets his world title attempt when the long reigning WBA featherweight champion, Eusebio Pedroza of Panama, comes to London to put his title on the line at Loftus Road soccer stadium. McGuigan becomes the champion by dropping Pedroza in the seventh round and winning a unanimous fifteen-round decision in a fight refereed by hall of fame referee Stanley Christodoulou. McGuigan and his wife are feted in a public reception through the streets of Belfast that attracts several hundred thousand spectators. Later that year, he is named BBC Sports Personality of the Year, becoming the first person not born in the United Kingdom to win the award.

McGuigan twice successfully defends his title, first against American Bernard Taylor, who is stopped in nine  rounds, and then against Dominican Danilo Cabrera in a controversial knock out in fourteen rounds. The fight is stopped after Cabrera bends over to pick up his mouthpiece after losing it, a practice that is allowed in many countries but not in Ireland. Cabrera is not aware of this, and the fight is stopped.

McGuigan’s next defence takes place in Las Vegas in June 1986, where he faces the relatively unknown Steve Cruz of Texas, in a gruelling 15-round title bout under a blazing sun. McGuigan holds a lead halfway through, but suffers dehydration due to the extreme heat and wilts near the end, being dropped in the tenth and fifteenth rounds. He eventually loses the world title, which he never reclaims, in a close decision. After the fight McGuigan requires hospitalisation because of his dehydrated state.

McGuigan retires after the fight but returns to the ring between 1988 and 1989, beating former world title challengers Nicky Perez and Francisco Tomas da Cruz, as well as contender Julio César Miranda, before losing to former EBU featherweight champ and future WBC and WBA super featherweight challenger Jim McDonnell by a technical knockout. After the McDonnell fight he permanently retires from boxing. His record is 32 wins and 3 losses, with 28 knockouts. In January 2005, McGuigan is elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

McGuigan founds and is the current President of the Professional Boxing Association (PBA). He is also the CEO and founder of Cyclone Promotions.