Commemorating the deaths of Terry Sherlock and Thomas Hand a century ago

Commemorating the deaths of Terry Sherlock and Thomas Hand a century ago

Terry Sherlock 9 November 1897 – 27 October 1920

John Terry Sherlock

John ‘Terry’ Sherlock had not reached his twenty third birthday when he was shot dead by the Black and Tans. He was a member of the Skerries Irish Volunteer Company from its formation in 1914 when he was sixteen. While the details of his involvement in the events of the Easter Rising of April 1916 are not clear, he was known to be a member of the Fingal Brigade and was arrested and sent to Wakefield Prison in England. 

Returning in May 1916, Terry Sherlock helped reorganise the Skerries Volunteers and formed a Sinn Féin club in Skerries with Matt Derham and Jack McGowan. By the end of 1919 he had become the commanding officer of C Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Fingal Brigade. In this way he became known to the authorities and was one of several who were targeted by the Black and Tans. Despite being warned to flee Ireland, he chose to remain and was taken from his home in the early hours of 27 October 1920. His body was later found a short distance from his home by members of his family. He had been shot five times.

Thomas Hand 17 June 1878 – 5 December 1920

Thomas Hand

Thomas Hand was a married man of forty-two with four children (a fifth child had died in infancy) when he was killed. He was a busy man: he worked as a general labourer, a van driver and later in Curkeen quarry. An enthusiastic member of the Gaelic League, he became sufficiently proficient in Irish to teach the language to others. He worked as secretary to the Irish Transport & General Workers Union in Skerries and later the Skerries branch of the Irish National Foresters. 

When the Skerries branch of the Irish Volunteers was formed, Thomas Hand was part of it. He also helped to form branches in Rush and Balbriggan. He took part in the Howth gun-running of 1914 and answered the call to arms on 23 April 1916 but, obeying the subsequent order to stand down, was not present during the main events of the Easter Rising. He was, nonetheless, arrested and sent to Wakefield Prison and then Frongoch Internment Camp, Wales, returning home late July 1916. 

With the establishment of the first Dáil, Sinn Féin courts came into being and Thomas was elected a judge in the Skerries district, probably in early 1920. With all this activity, it is hardly surprising that Thomas Hand came to the notice of the British authorities and he was forced to go on the run. On 5 December 1920, the Black and Tans caught up with him in the house where his brother, Charles, and sisters, Bridget and Rose lived. He was shot four times as he tried to make his way out of a back window and died immediately.

With thanks to Frank Whearity’s research. Further information can be obtained from Frank’s papers ‘Thomas Hand, Irish Volunteer’ in Time and Tide 4 and ‘John ‘Terry’ Sherlock, Irish Volunteer’ in Time and Tide 11. Also Frank’s book, The Easter Rising of 1916 in north Co. Dublin: a Skerries perspective (Four Courts Press).