James O'Sullivan

by Harriet Andrews

In your witness statement made decades later
you recall in great detail your Bantry company’s bold activities.
You remember names and ranks, munitions captured.
You mention twice the date of the raid on boat number 171
– 8pm, Sunday, November 17th, 1919.
What a remarkable memory you have.
Although you remember the new brigade officer
you can’t recollect the others’ names.
One may have been a Captain Con. Lowney
who, at the enemy garrison at Bere Island,
oversaw the Gun Cotton Raid
where 52 boxes filled with explosives
were pinched from under the noses of Brits,
the biggest explosives robbery of the war.
(I have an interest in this Capt. Lowney
as a century later I bought his family home).
In a Bere Island winter the enemy must have longed for supplies
of boots and shirts, underwear and socks,
along with cigarettes, bacon and tinned foods
which, due to your raids on Bantry Railway Station
and the steamboat ‘Princess Bear’, never arrived,
keeping the garrison soldiers hungry and cold,
lowering morale while boosting your cause.

The enemy forces never knew what to expect next.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at Bantry Literary Festival in July 2023. The workshops were led by writer Thomas McCarthy.

Bureau of Military History Witness Statement: James O’Sullivan, Rock Villas, Bantry, Co. Cork. O/C, Bantry Company, Bantry Battalion, Cork