Dying For The Cause – Remembering Robert ‘Bob’ Browne

Robert ‘Bob’ Browne who was murdered by crown forces in February 1921 and his body left near where the cross now stands at Knockalougha between Knocknagoshel and Duagh. And the wreath placed during the most recent, Covid-19 restricted commemoration.
Tom Browne, Tralee (left) a nephew of the murdered Volunteer Bob Browne with chairman of the monument restoration committee, Jerh Long, Knocknagoshel at the unveiling of the plaque in Knockalougha in 1997. ©Photograph: John Reidy 18-7-1997
Two local men standing at the 1921 erected monument to Volunteer Bob Browne at the scene of the discovery of his body during the commemoration in Knockalougha in 1997. ©Photograph: John Reidy 18-7-1997

A wreath laying ceremony was held on Monday evening, February 8th. 2021 at Knockalougha, Knocknagoshel where the body of Robert Browne was discovered by local people after being shot dead by crown forces on February 8th.1921.

By Éamonn Ó Braoin

In his book ‘Dying For The Cause’ Tim Horgan gives an account of Robert Browne’s life and his involvement in the war of Independence:

Robert (Bob) Browne was born in1894 at Beheenagh in the parish of Knocknagoshel.

His family later owned a shop at Clogher in Ballymacelligott. He was a member of the Irish Volunteer company in Ballymacelligott which was attached to the 2nd Battalion, Kerry No.2 Brigade.

A Shop in Ballymacelligott

Robert Browne had a shop in Ballymacelligott but the business and his home were burned by crown forces in response to his suspected Republican activities.

Subsequently he operated a shop at Feale’s Bridge near the family home at Knocknagoshel.

The shop was located at a junction where the main Castleisland to Abbeyfeale road meets the Listowel to Brosna road. It is now bypassed by the modern road.

Build-up of British Forces

In January 1921 a flying column composed of men from the Lixnaw and Listowel battalion was established under the command of Thomas Kennelly.

Kennelly was O/C of the 3rd. Battalion but had been active in the Duagh area before the flying column was established.

Being familiar with the area, he based the column in the town-land of Derk, a remote district in the Duagh parish.

However, in early February there was a build-up of British forces in Listowel town.

Safety of the Stack’s Mountains

In a local public house a conversation was overheard suggesting that the crown forces were planning to saturate the Duagh area in an attempt to annihilate the column.

On learning of this Bob McElligott, the O/C of the Listowel Battalion, sent Thomas Pelican with a warning to Kennelly.

Kennelly hurriedly evacuated his column and marched them south to the safety of the Stack’s Mountains.

Robert Browne was Taken Prisoner

The expected sweep by the British materialised but failed to capture the column which had retreated to the south of this desolate area.

On the day of the sweep of the Duagh district by the Auxiliaries, Robert Browne was taken prisoner as he walked along a road at Knockalougha, Duagh, where he had been ’on the run.’

He may have been attempting to join the column, which had been billeted nearby.

Shot Dead by the Auxies

His final hours are not recorded but he was shot dead by the Auxiliaries on February 8th 1921 and his body was left in an area known as Willie Walsh’s bog.

It was later found by local people and brought on a cart by Richard ‘Starry’ O’Shea to the Browne family home in Beheenagh.

Republican Plot in Knockane

This site in Knockalougha where the body was found was initially marked by a monument erected in July 1921 and a memorial plaque was unveiled there in 1997.

Volunteer Robert Browne was buried in the Republican Plot in Knockane Cemetery near Knocknagoshel.

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