Burning of Kilcrenagh House 25th May 1921
Additional notes by Tim Sheehan
Newspaper article 26th May 1921
The first intuition that anything unusual was happening, was when an under housemaid was held up by armed men on her way to Kilcrenagh from the house of her parents, who are servants at Blarney Castle.
She came in at 10:15 pm and told me about being held up for two hours, and that she was warned not to mention the fact in Kilcrenagh. I hesitated about telling Mr Pike, but eventually I did tell him, then I retired to bed at 11:15 pm.
About 12 o'clock, I heard footsteps on south side of the house. Then a few minutes later Mrs Pike came to my room and told me a crowd of men were knocking at the front door.
So I went down with her to Mr Pike's room and told him. I put a dressing gown on Mrs Pike. We then went to a window on the back landing and asked what was wanted. They demanded the front door to be opened at once. Mr Pike and myself went to the door and I unlocked it.
There were 20 or 30 men there with revolvers pointed at us. They then asked for Mr Pike and told him they were going to burn the place down.
When Mr Pike asked them why they should burn his place down, they said they had orders to do so as a reprisal for the burning of two cottages in Blackpool, Cork, by the Black and Tans. They then gave us all ten minutes to get what we wanted and leave the house.
I ran to the top of the house to call the maids. I was coming back down the stairs, when I was held up by two men with revolvers, but they let me pass. I then went into the box room for a suitcase, to put whatever I could gather into.
When I came out of the room, I was again held up by two men and taken in front of their "Commander", who questioned me and asked me if my name was Hulmes, and if I was the butler.
I said I was neither but that I was Mr Pike's secretary, so they let me go down to Mr Pike's room (after I had told them the butler lived in a cottage about half a mile away). I then got together as much of Mr Pike's clothes etc as I could to put into the suitcase, and the dog basket, then I was put out of the room.
When I got downstairs, Mrs Pike was sitting on the dining room table with the three dogs, so I gave her some brandy and then gave some to Mr Pike.
I then asked if I may save some of the plates, so then I had to burst open the pantry door (as the key had been left in my own room). I threw some silver through the bars of the window. I was then put out of the pantry.
I then went into the smoke room to see where Mr Pike was. I found one of the men rifling Mr Pike's safe, so I said to him, would he let me get some papers I wanted. I gathered all I could, and put them in the suitcase, which I had in the dining room.
Mr Pike then came back into the smoke room, so I went to see where Mrs Pike was. I found she was up in her room, so I came down to the cloak room to get some coats and hats, but the coats were taken off me.
I then went into the dining room and carried all I had gathered outside and went into the house again to try to get up to my own room, but I was told I had run about long enough and the "Commander" took me down to the stable (where there was a guard put on the door) and I was told to stay there, or that if I came out again, I would be shot.
I then asked where Mr and Mrs Pike were and I was told they would be brought down to the stable. A few minutes after, Mr and Mrs Pike were brought to the stable. They then locked us all in and told us not to attempt to get out for two hours or we would be shot.
About five minutes afterwards we saw the house in flames.
After being in the stables about half an hour, Auswer and Taylor, who had by this time seen the fire, came down (not knowing how the fire had been started) and let us out of the stable, as the small garage / coach house and workshop were burning furiously.
The house was by now also burning furiously.
I then got Mr and Mrs Pike to go down to Auswer's house.
Mrs Auswer made cups of tea and Mr and Mrs Pike remained there about two hours. Mr Pike went back and sat in the limousine for some time.
Mr and Mrs Pike then came back to Auswer's house and dressed, and went to Cork by 7:45 am train.
The military came out to Kilcrenagh about 10 o'clock. I showed them round and where the safe and strong room were, and stayed on at Kilcrenagh until Friday morning May 27th.
I then went to Government House in Cork, to Mr Pike.