The highest ranking officer killed in action in Clare during the War of Independence is to be commemorated and remembered on Sunday 23rd February 2020, one hundred years after his death. Martin Devitt Vice - Commandant of the Mid Clare Brigade from Cahersherkin, Ennistymon, lost his life as he engaged along with his brother Paddy, Comdt. Ignatius O’Neill, and Pake Lehane an R.I.C. patrol in the Fermoyle Ambush at Crowe’s Bridge, Inagh on the 24th February 1920. In the exchange of fire Martin Devitt was shot in the head and died at the scene of the ambush.
An inquest followed which confirmed Martin Devitt’s death. The Coroner reported, “Martin Devitt of Cahersherkin, Ennistymon, Co. Clare died on the 24th Feb. 1920 from a bullet wound received while fighting for the freedom of his country, which freedom is prevented by mis-government”.
In his witness statement to the Bureau of Military History, his brother Paddy Devitt outlined Martin’s role in the fight for independence; ‘Probably every Sunday my brother, Martin, would stress on this particular subject -”We are getting ready to fight against the foreigners and finish the job the Fenians set out to do”.
The death in 1920 of Martin Devitt was a severe blow to the Mid Clare Brigade as recounted by Paddy Devitt: “He stood out among the men of that unit for his bravery and resource. He was quicker than any other person that I knew to see and seize opportunity for hitting at the forces of occupation and he had a way of getting men to do what he wanted without being obtrusive or dictatorial”. Martin Devitt was buried with full military honours in Clouna graveyard.
The Vice - Commandant Martin Devitt Commemoration is in three parts. It will commence at 12:30pm with mass at St. Columba’s Church, Clouna, Ennistymon, followed at 2:00pm by a wreath laying ceremony at Martin Devitt’s grave at Clouna Cemetery with Military Honours by the Defence Forces. The final part which will be held at the Falls Hotel Ennistymon at 3:00pm, will be the launching of the Mid Clare Brigade centenary commemorations. This will include the unveiling of two large exhibition screens which details the membership rolls of both the Volunteers of the Mid Clare Brigade and members of Cumann na mBan an integral part of our commemorations in this decade of centenaries.
As well as members of the Devitt family, many of whom are travelling long distances to be with us, the special guest will be Mary O’Rourke former TD and government minister.