The Nodstown Proclaimation
Following the Soloheadbeg ambush and the outbreak of the War of Independence the British authorities reacted by proclaiming South Tipperary as a special military district. Brigadier Séamus Robinson, OC of the Third Tipperary Brigade IRA, and the man who’d organised the ambush, decided to push back and increase the pressure on the occupying crown forces. He and his comrades had already made it quite clear to IRA GHQ that they would not flee to the USA. Now they determined to make it abundantly clear to the enemy that they were a serious force to be reckoned with and that they were now at war. They clearly illustrated their aims and ambitions for the struggle, and gave clear indications as to how they would treat their enemies.
A meeting of the Brigade’s officers and of leading and most active Volunteers was held in Donnelly’s house, Nodstown, Boherlahan, Cashel on 23 February 1919, less than five weeks after Soloheadbeg.at the meeting a Proclamation was composed. It was a hardline document, ordering all British and police forces out of South Tipperary by a certain date. It also stated that all supporters and servants of the alien government found in the area after that date would be held to have forfeited their lives. The document was issued over the signature of the Brigade’s commander, Séamus Robinson. He explained that he wanted to put the fight on a proper war footing.
The IRA GHQ in Dublin was utterly opposed to the content of the document and stated that they could not permit the Tipperary Volunteers to carry out the threats made in it against individuals. Robinson was ordered to ensure that it would not be posted.
The attitude of GHQ greatly disappointed and upset the Tipp Volunteers. A couple of thousand copies of the proclamation had already been printed. Some wanted to ignore the orders from Dublin. Robinson however stated that his instructions were very clear. He further stated that he’d discipline severely anyone he saw posting the notice. Over the following weeks hundreds of notices were posted in very public places all over South Tipperary. But the Brigadier never saw anybody doing the posting!
At the time of its issuing the Proclamation was scorned and derided by the opinion makers, the authorities, and the media. It was portrayed as a piece of wishful thinking by a small, unrepresentative group of armed terrorists, undeserving of consideration by right-thinking people.
Within three years no member of the crown forces remained anywhere in Co. Tipperary.
Whereas a foreign and tyrannical Government is preventing Irishmen exercising the civil right of buying and selling in their own markets in their own country, and
Whereas almost every Irishman who has suffered the death penalty for Ireland was sentenced to death solely on the strength of the evidence and reports of policemen who, therefore, are dangerous spies, and
Whereas thousands of Irishmen have been deported and sentenced solely on the evidence of these same hirelings, assassins and traitorous spies, the police, and
Whereas the life, limb and living of no citizen of Ireland is safe while these paid spies are allowed to infest the country, and
Whereas it has come to our knowledge that some men and boys have been arrested and drugged, and
Whereas there are a few Irishmen who have sunk to such depths of degradation that they are prepared to give information about their neighbours and fellow countrymen to the police, and
Whereas all these evils will continue as long as the people permit:
We hereby proclaim the South Riding of Tipperary a military area with the following regulations:
- A policeman found within the said area on and after the ____ day of February 1919, will be deemed to have forfeited his life. The more notorious police being dealt with, as far as possible, first.
- On and after the ____ day of February 1919, every person in the pay of England (magistrates, jurors etc.) who helps England to rule this country or who assists in any way the upholders of foreign Government in this South Riding of Tipperary will be deemed to have forfeited his life.
- Civilians who give information to the police or soldiery, especially such information as is of a serious character, if convicted will be executed, i.e. shot or hanged.
- Police, doctors, prison officials who assist at or who countenance or who are responsible for, or in any was connected with the drugging of an Irish citizen for the purpose of obtaining information, will be deemed to have forfeited his life and may be hanged or drowned or shot at sight as a common outlaw. Offending parties will be executed should it take years to track them down.
- Every citizen must assist when required in enabling us to perform our duty.