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Arming the Volunteers - Experimenting and Innovating

IRA 'Big Gun', Dublin, 1920

IRA 'Big Gun', Dublin, 1920

With a severe shortage of weapons to fight the war, the IRA worked to create their own. This experimental mortar, or ‘Big Gun’, was made under the command of Peadar Clancy, Director of Munitions, and Dick McKee of the GHQ Staff, Dublin Brigade in 1920. It was constructed at 198 Parnell Street in Dublin in a munitions factory located in the basement of Heron and Lawless’ Bicycle Shop (Archie Heron and Joseph Lawless were both members of the IRA). It is thought to be the only piece of artillery manufactured by the IRA during the War of Independence. It was tested by Captain Mat Furlong of the Dublin Brigade at Lustown, Batterstown, Co. Meath. However, on the fifth shell being fired, it exploded and fatally wounded Captain Furlong. After the accident the gun was searched for by the Black and Tans, but it was hidden in the River Tolka by Mr John Connell of Lustown. After some years, when Connell was released from Arbour Hill Prison, he recovered the mortar and had it deposited in the National Museum of Ireland in 1937.


IRA 'Big Gun', Dublin, 1920 is located at:
On Display

Previous artefact:

Exploded revolver, Wexford / Carlow, c. 1920 / 1921

Next artefact:

Land mine case, 1st Eastern Division, IRA, 1920-1921

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