Adavoyle Ambush

The photo below is of the long-abandoned Adavoyle Railway Station, the one through which De Valera was ‘deported’ by the RUC that time he was arrested at the Canal Street police station.  There was another serious incident some one mile from Adavoyle just after the opening of the N Ireland parliament by King George V.

The remains is under threat, two plots of land here being currently up for sale!

Extra security was drawn in from all quarters, including the 10th Hussars from the Curragh in County Meath. Indeed there were three special trains commissioned to ferry them. All went well on the journey north. Not so, on the return journey.

As you know from reading this site, the railway traces the Gap of the North through the south-east end of the Ring of Gullion. South-bound, the section of the line here is a steep climb and goods trains rarely exceeded 15 mph even with a good head of steam. An ideal spot to stage an ambush, which is what happened. 

Three special trains had been laid on and it was the third that was attacked. On board there were 113 men, 4 officers and 104 horses.  In all fifteen vehicles belonging to the Great Northern Railway Company were destroyed. But more to the point, there was considerable loss of life.

At the scene, three soldiers, and the civilian Guard, one Frank Gallagher from Donegal, died. Two further soldiers died later of their injuries and two railway officials were seriously injured. The latter two were named as Andrew Berkeley and Dan Madden.

Curiously – or maybe not, considering the Englishman’s attachment to his animals – the whole incident is best remembered for the equine loss of life. In all some forty horses died, some having to be shot because of their serious injuries.

It was said that soldiers wept for their dead horses, many of which had recently been through the Great War with them. Local people were rounded up and made to dig a massive grave in which the horses were buried.

For many years after, there were reports of a ghost train that habitually travelled south at this point. Gatemen saw the approaching lights but on opening the level crossing gates to allow it through, no train appeared.


The ‘ballad’ that appeared thereafter is possibly best forgotten!

‘The miles men that morning were taken by surprise

By masked men and guard men and men in disguise

They were brought to an empty house

But neither a frack nor a friend

Sure the very hair stood on their heads

The morning that the train went down’.

… Adavoyle Revenge ? …

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