Famed in sentimental ballads as Ireland’s “fair city,” during the 1919-1921 Irish War of Independence Dublin was anything but.
In the countryside what is also known as the Anglo-Irish War was largely a guerrilla conflict, waged by the Irish Republican Army against the British-controlled police and Crown military forces. The rural fight was characterized by ambushes, attacks on isolated outposts and reprisals against civilians by army auxiliaries known as “Black and Tans.” In Dublin the struggle was a shadow war, a lethal game of cat and mouse in which the British sought to capture or kill IRA members who, in turn, attempted to neutralize the police and army through assassination, intimidation and covert penetration. It was a brutal urban conflict in which pistols were the preferred weapon, battles were fought at close range, and quarter was rarely given.
In the spring of 1920 Pennsylvania-born Peter Ashmun Ames joined the fight in Ireland—on the British side. It was the worst decision of his life.