The Pickardstown

Ambush Of 1921

     The Pickardstown Ambush was an action in the Irish War of Independence that took place near the town of Tramore, County Waterford, on the night of the 7th of January 1921. The ambush was conceived by Paddy Paul, the leader of the I.R.A. East Waterford Brigade, who gathered Volunteers from the local Dunhill and Waterford City units of his command, as well as the West Waterford flying column led by George Lennon. This made for a total of fifty men, although several were armed only with shotguns.

     An attack was made on the RIC barracks in the town, and the British military garrison in Waterford City quickly dispatched forty troops in four Crossley tenders. However, the ambush didn’t quite play out as planned and resulted in the British troops being able to make a determined counterattack, ultimately killing two I.R.A. men and wounding two more. One British soldier and one Black and Tan were also wounded.

     The purpose of this website is to commemorate the brave actions of those who fought and died and of those who were injured on that dark January night in 1921. We would like to stick to the known facts about the ambush and not be influenced by assessments, judgements or hindsight. Although the Tramore ambush had seemed to be a failure and maybe even badly planned, it did serve the purpose of showing the enemy that there was a real live Volunteer Force active on the ground and that they could no longer count East Waterford as being a quiet area.

     Most of us are but armchair generals and have never experienced the heat of battle. As such we are unqualified to judge the actions taken on the night. In one of the witness statements concerning the ambush, a British military participant is quoted as saying that his side just got lucky and they had a very close call. That doesn’t sound like the operation was "badly planned", it sounds more like the fickle hand of fate played a big part in the Pickardstown Ambush. 

     Should you be in possession of any photographs, videos, newspaper reports or anything that you feel could be included in this archive, you can email us at and we'll do our best to publish it on the site.

     The Pickardstown Ambush of 1921 website is comprised of witness statements, newspaper articles, photographs and videos, all of which pertain to the events that took place on the night of January 7th 1921. The site will continue to be updated as new material comes to hand, so be sure to revisit from time to time. Below are links to some of the items which are currently available.

Witness Statements

Nicholas Whittle's Witness Statement. 

Paddy Paul's Witness Statement. 

Patrick J. Power’s Witness Statement.  

Thomas Brennan’s Witness Statement. 

James Power's Witness Statement.

John Riordan's Witness Statement. 

William Keane's Witness Statement.  

Various Articles

The Pickardstown Ambush Recalled. 

Excerpt from 'Rebel Heart' by Terence O'Reilly. 

From Threshing to the Troubles. 

John Redmond Article by Dr. Pat MulDowney. 

Death In The Glen by Dermot Power.

 Denis F. Madden Letter.  

Tramore Sensation Article. 

Unique Discovery At Tramore, 1951 article by Nicholas Whittle. 

Tramore Ambush Sequel. 

Six Executions in Dublin, mentioned in Nicholas Whittle's Statement. 

Exciting Tale Of Terror Days.

The Pickardstown Ambush Story Documentary.

The Pickardstown Ambush Story - Video 


Military Service Pensions Collection Gallery. 

Picture Gallery. 

Video Gallery. 



Unveiling of Monument to Waterford Heroes.

Article from ‘The Freemans Journal’, Monday March 6th 1922


     Despite the inclement weather, several thousands of people assembled at Pickardstown , Tramore, yesterday, to witness the unveiling by Mr. C. Burgess, T.D., of a beautiful memorial shrine erected to the memory of the two young Waterford Volunteers, Michael McGrath and Thomas O'Brien, who, in January, 1921, lost their lives in an ambush by British Crown forces at this spot. Volunteer and Cumann na mBan contingents were present in large numbers from Waterford and all the surrounding districts, and, headed by bands, marched in processional order to the Shrine.

     The unveiling ceremony was performed by Mr. C. Burgess, T.D., after which the shrine was blessed by the Rev. Father O'Brien, C.C., Tramore and the Rosary recited in Irish.

     Subsequently Mr. Burgess addressed the gathering and first spoke for some minutes in Irish. He made a strong appeal on behalf of the Irish language and said that as long as they had that language in the country, no matter what else might happen, they would never be finally subdued.


    They should remember that the young men to whose memory that shrine had been erected died for a certain ideal, and died for nothing else.

     When any one of those present looked upon that shrine afterwards they should say a prayer for these two heroes of Ireland; if indeed they needed a prayer, because they were in Heaven that' day. Nevertheless, let them say a prayer for them, but let them say more than one prayer for themselves, that they might be strong enough to do what they should when the time came.


Website conceived and compiled by Dr. Pat MulDowney and Des Rutter.