War of Independence Grenade and Home-made Bomb
The amateur nature of the Irish Volunteers and the IRA in their encounters with British Crown Forces is demonstrated well in this makeshift home-made bomb. Emptied cans of fruit, treacle or other such delicacies were used in their manufacture from as early as 1917 by members of Kilmurry’s Irish Volunteer’s company.
Like many other companies in mid-Cork, they were taught how to make them and provided with the explosive material by Charlie Browne. He was an officer of the Irish Volunteers battalion headquartered in Macroom, and had spent several weeks interned in the prison camp in Frongoch, Wales after the Easter Rising in 1916.
The cans were filled with small pieces of scrap metal- from old pots, fodder troughs or any other scrap a local company could get its hands on- in between layers of fresh poured cement. The lids were then secured by bolts embedded in the cement before it had set. A piece of wood was used to hollow out a core, in which the explosives could be placed with a piece of fuse when the bombs were needed.
The effectiveness of these home-made canister bombs was questionable, as one of the Kilmurry Volunteers was to discover in August 1920. During the ambush at Lissarda in which company quartermaster Michael Galvin was shot dead, Dan O’Leary was wounded when a bomb like this exploded just as he was about to throw it at a police lorry.
As the IRA’s guerrilla war campaign became more sophisticated and Flying Columns engaged in more ambushes on police and military, the IRA’s Cork No 1 Brigade organised its own munitions manufacture around the end of 1920. A factory to produce bomb casings for distribution to IRA companies and Flying Columns was set up in Knockraha in east Cork, where the local company also established an underground grenade factory.