On the night of August the 9th 1922 a fierce battle erupted at Ferrycarrig in Co. Wexford. It saw a large force of anti-Treaty IRA men, under the command of Bob Lambert, attack a small Free State garrison, who were stationed in McDonald’s public house (later the Oak Tavern). The Free State troops, who numbered fifteen men in total, had been entrusted with keeping Ferrycarrig bridge open to vehicular traffic. This relatively isolated outpost was an obvious target for the IRA and at approximately 3 am they launched an attack, firing on McDonald’s with a rifles, shotguns and machine guns.
While this assault took place, the Murrintown brigade of the anti-Treaty IRA launched a simultaneous attack on Wexford barracks. Their aim was to prevent any Free State reinforcements leaving Wexford town to aid the men in Ferrycarrig. They were largely successful in this endeavour and their covering fire managed to lock down the barracks for nearly two hours.
Meanwhile at Ferrycarrig the situation was becoming increasingly precarious for the defenders. They were completely surrounded and a constant rain of bullets was directed on their position. The IRA had gradually encroached on MacDonald’s and were now able to throw grenades into the building. One of these explosions started a fire and the Free State soldiers position soon became untenable. After two and half hours of fierce fighting, they were finally forced to surrender and a white flag was raised.
Inside the battered remains of McDonald’s pub, one Free State soldier, Edmund McEvoy from Belfast, lay dead, while five more were seriously wounded. These included Joseph Darby from Kinegad, Co. Westmeath, Terence Gorey from Derryvoher, Co. Kildare, P. Whealan from Brownstown, Co. Kildare, J. McGarvin from Athgarvan, Co. Kildare and James McArdle from Co. Kildare. The remaining Free State troops were disarmed by the IRA, who also took their boots and leggings. The partially clothed soldiers were then released, while the IRA disappeared into the night on bicycles.
Irish Independent newspaper, 10-08-1922, p. 5
The Free Press newspaper, 12-08-1922, p. 5
Furlong N. & Hayes, J. 2005 Wexford in the Rare Oul’Times, Vol. IV. Wexford
Mac Suain, S. (1995) County Wexford’s Civil War, pp. 59-60