Cross is a small village that is located at the junction of the R346 (to Cong), the R334 (to the Neale and Ballinrobe) and the R334 (to Headford). It has two pubs and a post office.
Cross’ most famous resident was Tom Maguire (28 March 1892 – 5 July 1993). Tom was an Irish republican who held the rank of commandant-general in the Western Command of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and led the South Mayo flying column.
On March 7 1921 The South Mayo Flying Column under the command of Tom Maguire surrounded a British army patrol at Kilfall between Ballinrobe and Castlebar forcing it to surrender and give up their arms. The patrol were then released unharmed. Tom Maguire’s personal account of the engagement is given in the book Survivors by Uinsean MacEoin (Argenta Publications, 1980).
On May 3 of 1921, Tom led an ambush party on an RIC patrol in Tournakeady, Co. Mayo during which four RIC men were killed. Following the engagement, Maguire’s flying column made their escape to the Partry Mountains which lie to the west of Lough Mask. They were pursued by a large force of British soldiers and policemen who used an aeroplane to monitor the progress of the column. A number of skirmishes ensued during which Maguire was wounded and his adjutant killed. There is some dispute about the number of British casualties but fooklore has it that they were substantial. The column managed to escape with no further casualties. Detailed accounts of this engagement and the Kilfall ambush are to be found in Guerilla Warfare in the Irish War of Independence , 1919-1921 by Joseph McKenna (Pub. McFarland and Company Inc.)
Tom Maguire was elected to the Dáil elections of 1921, 1822 and 1923. He took the anti-treaty side in the Civil War and was a member of the anti-treaty IRA executive which commanded the anti-treaty army. He was captured by the National Army and though he was told he was to be executed, his life was spared. However, his younger brother Seán aged 17 was executed in Tuam on 11th April 1923 along with six others. These men are known today as the Tuam Martyrs.
Tom Maguire retired from politics in 1927. However he remained a staunch republical to the end and strongly objected to the decision of Sinn Féin and the Provisional IRA in 1986 to recognise “the partitian parliament of Leinster House”.
Chris Kilcommins of Republican Sinn Féin gave an oration at the Commandent General Tom Maguire commemoration on 6th July 2011. Click here to read it (from Irish Republican Bulletin Board)
Survivors by Uinsean MacEoin (Argenta Publications, 1980)
Guerilla Warfare in the Irish War of Independence , 1919-1921 by Joseph McKenna (Pub. McFarland and Company Inc.)
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