Saor Eire raid on the Hibernian Bank, Droichead Nua (Newbridge) 1968.

Saor Eire raid on the Hibernian Bank, Droichead Nua  (Newbridge) 1968.

After a raid on the National Bank in Kells, Co, Meath in 1969, Saor Eire issued their first official statement to the press claiming responsibility for the robbery and describing themselves as the Saor Eire Action Group. They signed the statement Michael Price, using the name of the 1930’s Socialist Republican leader and claiming that the money would be used to finance a movement which would strive for a Workers’ Republic.

Hibernian Bank

Hibernian Bank

Saor Eire a Left-wing Republican group commenced the expropriation from Irish banks with a raid on the Royal Bank in Drumcondra, on 27th, February 1967. This was followed by a Munster and Leinster Bank in Tallaght on 11th April 1968. This was to happen yet again at 10.15 a.m. Tuesday, 20th June 1968, as three armed raiders wearing false beards including Tommy Marsh and Sean (Ructions) Doyle, a veteran from Operation Harvest (1950s IRA Border Campaign), entered the Hibernian Bank, in Charlotte Street. Newbridge. “Shouting this is a hold-up”, they held the manager, Michael Waldron, and the bank employees at gun point while searching unsuccessfully for the Free State Army payroll, that according to their intelligence was destined for the Curragh Army Camp. While one man guarded the door, his two comrades vaulted the counter and emptied £3,474 of bank-cash into a large bag.

However an employee at nearby at Sloan’s Drapery shop, Cathal  Henry became suspicious of the strangers who entered the bank and he approached a man outside the bank standing beside the get-away car. This man produced a gun and roughly escorted Henry inside the bank to join the now terrified staff and customers. Hearing the commotion local people, including a Garda on his bicycle, began to assemble in Charlotte Street, as the raiders with revolvers drawn backed out of the bank warning “keep away or be shot”. In a strange turn of events Bank Manager Waldron and Hugh Murphy from Sloan’s Drapery followed the fleeing get-away car, a green Ford Cortina down the Milltown Road, though they lost track of the raiders near Killmeague about seven miles from Newbridge. Escaping it is believed in the direction of the Wicklow Mountains the Saor Eire members avoided a massive Garda cordon that was thrown around an area for about 50 square miles.

In addition Frank Keane the National Organiser of Saor Eire ( and former OC for the Dublin Brigade of the IRA ) and Simon O’Donnell were arrested and charged after Garda searched their van that contained combat jackets, cash and a map describing how to get to Charlotte Street and the means of access to the bank. The map also showed the Milltown Killmeague Roads arrowed as an escape route and advising against taking wrong turns at junctions. As evidence was found lacking Keane and O’Donnell were released under nolle prosequI, (we shall no longer prosecute) there is nothing keeping the prosecutor from re-filing the same charges at a later date.

Forty eight years later the Hibernian Bank in Charlotte Street, is now a music shop MusiCo.

Thank’s to the Hungrybrigade.com for some of the information in this article.

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4 responses to “Saor Eire raid on the Hibernian Bank, Droichead Nua (Newbridge) 1968.

  1. Pingback: Saor Eire raid on the Hibernian Bank, Droichead Nua (Newbridge) 1968 | The Cedar Lounge Revolution·

  2. Thanks for your reference to the Hungry Brigade’s account of the Newbridge raid. Our story goes into further detail and raises matters beyond what you have alluded to here.

    In particular that operation did not go down too well with the IRA as the gardai, in the hunt for the raiders, swarmed all over the northern end of the Wicklow mountains.

    What Ructions and his crew were unaware of in all this was that during this time Cathal Goulding was organising a manoeuvre which would include every member of the Dublin Brigade drilling in the mountains – the whole business to be filmed for French television and to be shown all over Europe.

    It was just as Goulding was shouting “make sure they see O’Leary with
    the fucking Bren gun,” when he saw Seamus Costello coming across theheather with the TV crew that Dunne shouted “Wrozzers!!!!” in his deep Dublin accent. Pandemonium ensued. The TV crew was reduced to a very brief, jittery film of IRA men bounding over the heather and bracken like wild deer and Goulding swore that he’d have Ruction’s guts for garters. Luckily all the IRA men evaded capture and got back to their
    base in Lacken while Ructions and his crew abandoned the car in the
    Featherbed’s bog hole and then at nightfall made their way over the
    mountains to their base in Glenmalure.

    I hope your readers are aware that all this is covered in our book, Irregulars, which is available free as a pdf download at http://hungrybrigade.com.

    We hope to be releasing a bit of a sequel in the not-too-distant future.

  3. The Irish Republican & Marxist History Project would like to thank Sean for the above comment regarding the Newbridge raid in 1968. In addition this further information helps to fill in the blanks in the important history of Saor Eire and the Irish left Republicans in the 1960s-70s.

    The Irregulars online book by The Hungry Brigade is a fantastic read and should be read by all.
    http://hungrybrigade.com.

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