James Devanney an IRA Active Service Unit member was fatally wounded on January 26th 1921 near O’Meara’s pub in Kilruane. James from Pallas, Toomevara was one of four IRA volunteers drinking in O’Meara’s pub when they saw a Crossley tender with police (RIC and Black and Tans) approaching from the Cloughjordan direction. The police opened fire as three of the volunteers attempted to escape from the pub into a nearby field. Two of them Pat O’Brien (Silvermines) and Sean O’Leary (Nenagh) succeeded in escaping. James Devanney was wounded in the thigh and bled to death in a ditch a short distance from the pub. The fourth volunteer Patrick Whelahan (Toomevara) was unable to flee because of ill-health. He remained in the pub, donned a barman’s apron and went behind the counter to give the impression that he was working there. However, the police did not enter the pub and continued on their journey to Nenagh. Later on the police accompanied by the military returned to the scene of the shooting. They arrested three local men Con Spain, Jim Keogh and Pat Kelly who were working in their fields and knew nothing about the shooting. Con Spain and Jim Keogh were both IRA volunteers. The three were roughly interrogated and arrested and forced at gunpoint to carry the corpse of James Devanney to one of the police tenders. Con Spain and Jim Keogh were detained in custody for two weeks and Pat Kelly was released after two days.
The High Mass for the repose of the soul of James Devanney was celebrated at Nenagh Church on January 29th. One of the celebrants was the Rev P. Devanney, uncle of the deceased. The police and military only allowed three cars from the huge funeral cortege to proceed to Toomevara and mourners wearing the tricolour mourning armlets were ordered to remove them. The military accompanied the cortege to Toomevara.
The Devanney family suffered another tragedy when James’s older brother Thomas was shot dead during a military raid on the family farm at Pallas, Toomevara on March 1st 1921. A roadside memorial near to where James Devanney lost his life was erected a number of years ago in Kilruane.