One Sunday when I was communing with myself, having no one else to consult with, the telephone rang. The man on the line said there was a strike of farm laborers and that they had taken over possession of his town. I said so what and he said quite a lot what. To this he added that I was now “the competent military authority” responsible for law and order and that I had better do something about it quick. I told Power to fall in the right half company, ready the three tenders and have the men bring their bayonets with them.
It was one of those country towns consisting mainly of one long street running up the side of a hill. More than half way up this hill a dark mass of men was gathered. Dismounting the forty men from the trucks we fell them in, fixed bayonets and advanced up the street.
Two lines of twenty men each, bayonets to the front, not a hair out of place, boots crashing on the street. So we advanced steadily up the town. Halt. A dark glaring man, seemingly the leader, was standing in front of the farm laborers, his eyes staring me.
“What is going on here, my man.” said I, in my best officer manner.
“------ you” said he.
The Sergeant Major moved from my side and felled him with a blow. Some of the men broke ranks and knocked down a few of the strikers with their rifle butts. A pause and a boy rushed forward to confront me. Calling me by name he said bitterly “What is the matter with you I thought you would be the last person in the world to do this to us.” We pushed the strikers back to the end of the street and held them there at the bayonet point. Then a truck came up with the labor organizer who was to preside at their meeting. He glared also. I told him if everything was going to be orderly they could hold the meeting, otherwise no meeting. He angrily assented and we marched off quite a ways to the old Union buildings nearby so as to be in call. From here we heard cheers but no other sounds of trouble.
I sat on a stone wondering what the boy meant. You and Us... Then it began to dawn on me. No wonder they were mad. In the past, lancers had ridden them down, redcoats had marched against the, bluecoats had marched against them, now men in green jackets were putting them back in their place. Poor landless men, people of no property, betaghs.
“Fall in the men, we are going back to barracks”.
About this time a prisoner was reported being held in the guardhouse. On going to investigate I discovered it was Kirkby. He said he had been arrested after leaving Beggars Bush barracks where he had been spending some time giving the new regime a look over. He was anxious to get back to the river and we parted most warmly.
Towards the end of our occupation we suffered some marauding visits from our own side. On one occasion they presented the manager of the Bank of Ireland with a demand that nearly gave the poor man a heart attack; on another they stripped the ships in the port of their wireless sets.
It was almost a relief when the pro-Treaty forces attacked us.