In 1922 a Civil War erupted in Ireland between those who supported the Peace Treaty, signed by Michael Collins, and those who opposed it. This actually led to the origins of the two main political parties in the Ireland of today, Fine Gael and Fine Fail who, to this day, will not unite into a single party due to the divisions that had occurred during this Civil War.
In 1922 Fine Gael, who supported the Treaty, were referred to as the ‘Free State Army’ or ‘Free Staters’ while Fine Fail, who opposed the Treaty, were referred to as the ‘republicans’.
As a consequence of this Civil War an all-night battle occurred in Ardee when the Republicans attacked Hatch’s Castle then occupied by the ‘Free State Army’. They planted a mine outside the premises immediately to the right of Hatch’s Castle which exploded and this photo was taken the day after that explosion.
The full story of the photo was not known until now. The Belfast News Letter, Saturday 4 November 1922 p.7 reported under a title ‘An all night battle in Ardee’.
Republican operations on a considerable scale were carried out in County Louth on Thursday night and yesterday morning. The main operation was an attack on the barracks (Hatch’s Castle) at Ardee, which is south of Dundalk, and is situated on a branch railway line.
Diversions were carried out in Dundalk itself, where, all night long, there was constant firing and bombing, while the roads on the southern side of the town were blocked; and, at Dromin Junction, where railway lines were lifted, causing the wrecking of an empty cattle train.
These subsidiary operations were intended to prevent Free State reinforcements from Dundalk reaching Ardee by road or rail, and they appear to have been successful. They also had the effect of causing an interruption of the Dublin-Belfast railway service yesterday.
The telegraph and telephone wires between Dublin and Belfast were cut on Thursday night, and were not available for public use yesterday.
No one appears to have been seriously injured at Ardee, but terrible havoc was wrought by the explosion of a mine in the main street, where the Free State Garrison is quartered at Hatch’s Castle. It appears that about 200 Republicans invaded the town shortly after one o’clock in the morning, and, taking up positions on roofs, poured a heavy rifle and revolver fire, and threw bombs at the Free State Quarters.
While the Free Staters were replying to the fire, a hugh mine was wheeled up the street and placed in position opposite the house of a Mr Morrison (Ulster Bank Cashier), some yards from the Barracks. This was exploded, reducing the house of Mr Morrison, who was fortunately away from home, in ruins. Dr Steen, who resided next door, was struck by the door of his own house, and another man’s ceiling fell on him. Practically every house in a long stretch from the Hibernian Bank to the Protestant Church was damaged, and all windows within 200 yards were broken.
At four o’clock the attackers withdrew. Residents in the town state that they heard groaning as though some of the invaders had been hit.