[ 5 December 1863 ]

On this day in 1863, thousands of men and women in the Chinese rebel city of Suzhou were massacred, after the town was seized by imperial Chinese forces. Colonel Charles Gordon (later to become legendary as General Gordon of Khartoum) had guaranteed the safety of the garrison, but the surprise was only the extent of the killing. As Augustus Lindley wrote in his account of the Taiping Rebellion, Gordon’s military successes were always followed by “the wholesale massacre of the vanquished.” [1]


[ 5 December 1920 ]

On this day in 1920, three Irish boys discovered the mutilated bodies of two Irish brothers, Pat and Harry Loughnane, 29 and 22 years old.  They had been tortured and killed by British auxiliary forces known as the Black and Tans.  Their naked corpses dumped in a small muddy pond in a field, on which oil had been poured to disguise them.

According to a witness statement, Harry’s body was “a mass of unsightly scars and gashes; two of his fingers were lopped off; his right arm was broken at the shoulder, being almost completely severed from the body.. (and) nothing remained (of his face) save the chin and lips.”  Pat’s body was also difficult to recognise. His face also looked as if had been blown apart, while his wrists and legs had been broken.[2]

Prior to his arrest, Pat had been an occasionally active member of the Irish Republican Army while Harry, who loved books and wanted to be a teacher, had due to ill health, accepted a post as a secretary for the local Sinn Fein club.

They had been detained while working on their farm at Shanaglish at 4 pm on 26 November. According to the later testimony of a young police officer who knew the men, they were taken to a police barracks where they were beaten for an hour after blood had covered their faces. They were then tied to the end of a vehicle and dragged along the road to Drumharsna Castle, which was being used as a police base. It’s not certain whether they were still alive but the evidence suggests that shortly after their arrival they were burned alive.

The authorities insisted that the two men had escaped from police custody and although a British military court of inquiry was convened, its findings were never made known. Hundreds of men and women turned out to the brothers’ funeral at which six Republican volunteers fired three volleys over their graves and in 1927 a large Celtic Cross was erected as a memorial in Shanaglish cemetery.[3]


  1. Augustus Lindley, Ti-Ping Tien-Kwoh: The History of the Ti-Ping Revolution, Day and Son London 1866, p759
  2. Bureau of Military History Witness Statements 1517 ( Padraig O Fathaig ) and 1652 (Henry O’Mara) and Eoin Mac Cormaic, “Remembering the Past: Horrific Death of Brothers at Hands of Black and Tans,” 7 December 2000 accessed online at http://www.anphoblacht.com/contents/7011
  3. Eamon Healy, “Murder of the Loughnane brothers of Shanaglish,” 13 June 2007, accessed online at http://beaghrootsgalway.weebly.com/blog/26-november-1920-murder-of-the-loughnane-brothers-of-shanaglish

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