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The Rower Auxiliaries


“Supported by the Department of Tourism,  Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 initiative.”

Author and Historian Eoin Swithin Walsh looks at an ambush that lead to the death of an Auxiliary, Leonard James French, in the Rower Inistioge, County Kilkenny and subsequent retaliations.

The-Rower-Auxiliaries.mp3 (size 21 MB)

'In August 1920, the first company of Auxiliaries in Ireland, known as ‘A Company’, commandeered Woodstock House, near Inistioge. From the offset, the Auxiliaries did not endear themselves to the people of Kilkenny. Intended by the British Government to be an elite strike force which would take on the IRA head on, their major achievement was probably alienating even the most neutral and passive of Kilkenny folks! They couldn’t make a clear distinction between who was friend and who was foe, with the result that the public in general became their enemy. So it’s safe to say the auxiliaries were probably the least well liked and most feared wing of the Crown forces in Kilkenny as they appeared to be a law onto themselves.

On 10th June 1921, when two Auxiliaries, Leonard James French and Henry Ware, undertook reconnaissance work in the village of The Rower, a chase ensued and French was captured. He was executed on the banks of the River Barrow by the local IRA. The Rower IRA Company at this time was led by Richard ‘Dick’ O’ Keeffe of Coohill, Matthew Bolger, and James Walsh of Killeen. Other prominent members of the 5th Battalion area from The Rower included Martin Bates, Tom Butler, James Mackey and John Lanigan.

In retaliation for the capturing of French, the premises of the Butler family - which included an inn, public house, and general hardware and grocery store - was burnt down by the Auxiliaries.'

James Leonard French                                                                               Auxiliaries at Woodstock, Inistioge

Auxiliary-Leonard-James-French---executed-near-the-The-Rower-Co-Kilkenny-in-on-10-11th-June-1921    Some-Auxiliaries-at-the-garden-wall-in-Woodstock-Inistioge

More Auxiliaries at Woodstock                                                   1920' rebuild of Butler's Premises

The-Auxilaries-at-Woodstock The-1920s-rebuild-of-Butlers-premises-The-Rower---as-seen-in-more-recent-times