This photo of the O’Halloran sisters from Bodyke in East Clare is taken from the National Library of Ireland’s Eblana Photograph Collection.
The girls reportedly “came out fighting” when their homestead was threatened with eviction. The whole dramatic episode was captured in a newspaper report from 15 June 1887, as related by a brother of the girls, Frank O’Halloran, and has been published online by www.Clarelibrary.ie.
Excerpt from Frank O’Halloran Account of the Bodyke Eviction (c/o www.clarelibrary.ie):
“The police were not more than 25 feet away, but they did not fire. The bailiffs attacked the corner, and the sisters threw cans of boiling water on top of them, making them speedily retire, while the girls stood waiting with more water ready to fire, but they took no notice of them either. The crowd outside became terribly excited, as they saw by this that we meant no surrender in earnest. I had a long pole defending the corner, and I found that I could not use it effectively from the porthole which I was at, as I was a left-handed man; so I got an iron bar and broke a hole through the roof, a shower of slates falling on the emergency men outside. Then I got water and took off the slates, which I fired at them, but I don’t think any took affect but, anyway, we had the satisfaction of seeing that we made it impossible for them to continue at the corner. For about three-quarters of an hour the struggle continued, and finally, the defeated emergency men gave up, some of them well scalded. Then they went to the end of the house and the police got scaling ladders to get through the window on the second storey, so I exchanged places with my brother and went to the porthole at the gable-end, which he had been defending up to this.
At this time some unfortunate delay occurred about handing up the water. My brother went to see what was wrong, and while he was so engaged a policeman entered through the window. He was met by Honoria who caught a grasp of his sword-bayonet. He was just bent down in the act of jerking it from her when I saw him. I knew that if he gave the pull he would have cut her fingers off and ruin her hands. There was not a moment to spare. I jumped off the platform and struck him with my clenched fist under the chin and sent him sprawling to the other end of the room. My sister was then in full possession of a rifle, bayonet and all, and sure she did use it. She rushed to the window and scattered the police outside right and left, and cleared the ladder outside, which was crowded. All this happened in a few seconds. My brother had now returned with the water, and I went to Honoria’s assistance. I got a big pole: there was a policeman at the top of the ladder; I put it to his chest, pushed him into an upright position. The policeman behind him pressed him on, while the crowd yelled, wild with delight. I shoved harder and he fell to the ground, amidst deafening cheers and shouts. Others pressed on, to meet the same fate. Now we thought it was high time to evict the policeman we had inside. We got him near the window to throw him out. The police outside rammed their bayonets and wounded us several times, so we had to throw him back again instead of throwing him out. The fight now began properly. We attacked them with all our might and so fierce was the struggle that we smashed a sword-bayonet and injured several of those outside. Eventually we cleared the window again and victory was hailed with thunders of applause outside. The forces outside were dismayed, as if they did not know what to do next.