Arming the Volunteers - Experimenting and Innovating
Land mine case, 1st Eastern Division, IRA, 1920-1921
Land mine case, 1st Eastern Division, IRA, 1920-1921This concrete block is a land mine case designed specifically for use under roads. It was made in about 1920 by H. Fairclough, a Drogheda blacksmith and Brigade Engineer who constructed these mines for the 9th Brigade, 1st Eastern Division, IRA.
Fairclough described it as the early type of mine used for blowing up military lorries during the War of Independence. It usually had two feet of road surface over it, and could be left buried in the ground for about a year. The reason for its solid construction was to send the force of the explosion upwards and not sideways. The detonator leads were brought out underground through the side of the mine to the roadside hedge or ditch where they could be connected to a battery at any time required. The mine held 16-18lbs of Irish War Flour or Irish Cheddar – types of home-made explosives invented by Séamas O’Donovan, the IRA’s primary chemist. The top of the mine was covered with sawdust and then with a coating of pitch which left it damp proof. This land mine was capable of completely destroying a military lorry.