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Civil War

Micheál Martin says Ballyseedy massacre was 'premeditated murder, nothing less'

The Tánaiste was speaking at an event to commemorate the events at Ballyseedy.

TÁNAISTE MICHEÁL MARTIN has said that the Ballyseedy massacre was one of the lowest points in Ireland’s national history, and was premeditated murder. 

Speaking at the Fianna Fail Centenary Commemoration of the Ballyseedy Massacre in Tralee this afternoon, Martin condemned the event, in which eight men were murdered on the command of Free State National Army in reprisal for the killing of soldiers the day before.

The men – all members of the anti-treaty side – were tied to a landmine at Ballyseedy woods, outside Tralee, which then detonated. Eight men lost their lives, one man – Stephen Fuller – miraculously survived. 

His son Paudie Fuller spoke TheJournal about the blast and everything that followed: “It was an atrocity. It was brutal murder, it was a f##king war crime”.

Micheál Martin said that the massacre at Ballyseedy still has the power to shock 100 years later.

“Unquestionably, the brutal massacre in Ballyseedy on the night of the 6th and
7th of March 1923 marked one of the lowest points in our national story. Even after a hundred years what happened here retains the power to shock,” he said.

But we come here today not to reopen wounds or to insist on one version of our history. No, we come here to honour the memory of those young lives lost on that night and in other events in Kerry that terrible month.


Martin acknowledged there had been brutal attacks committed by both sides of the civil war, he mentioned the blowing up of five soldiers in Knocknagoshel before the events of Ballyseedy, which it is believed sparked the reprisal. 

“It is understandable that news of Knocknagoshel was met with anger – though what happened in the days and weeks later was not because of any righteous
motive,” Martin said.

“It reflected a brutal lawlessness which was already evident in the actions of certain men wearing uniforms which were supposed to represent legal authority but actually gave them impunity for some of the worst actions seen in our modern history.

There was a concerted effort to cover-up what happened here and then at Countess Bridge and Bahaghs, Cahirsiveen, but the people of Kerry and the authorities always knew the truth. It was premeditated murder, nothing less.


Martin went on to say that following the civil war, “the opponents went on to peacefully succeed each other in democratic elections”, and that Ireland was one of the few countries where this had happened.

“With very few exceptions, those who experienced the civil war were determined that it should be the end of armed conflict,” he said.

“For them the democratic objectives which are at the heart of the 1916 Proclamation demanded that we find a way beyond conflict – and that we honour the achievements of our independence struggle through using the new opportunities open to us.

Ballyseedy is a part of our history which we must never forget but, – just as Stephen Fuller and those who served on both sides of that terrible war believed- it cannot define us.
Clarification: An earlier version of this article has been corrected to clarify that eight people were killed in the incident. 

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