The Limerick Gang Feud took place in Irelands third city, Limerick, its said that up to 20 murders were related to the feud and that somewhere between 30 to 60 members of both sides are now or have been in prison because of their involvement.
Limerick has long been a troubled spot in Ireland, it once held the name Stab City.
In 2000 there was a falling out between between criminals Christy Keane and a close ally, Eddie Ryan. Its said that the feud erupted when young school girls, the daughters of Keane and Ryan involved in a schoolyard fight, which resulted in one of the girls being slashed across the face. Shortly afterwards, Christy Keane was sitting in his car outside a school waiting for one of his two children. Ryan approached and produced a gun but the weapon jammed and so began the feud.
Two nights later came the reprisal. On Sunday 12 2000 two men entered the Moose bar in which Ryan was drinking and shot him dead. On leaving the bar, the two masked gunmen sprayed the front of the bar with automatic gunfire, leaving people injured.
Ryan’s family formed an alliance with the McCarthy- Dundon faction, who were quickly developing a huge drugs network in the city. There were two main factions in the feud the McCarthy / Dundon gang who were based in Ballinacurra Weston, on the southside of the city and the Keane / Collopy gang who were based in the St Mary’s Park area. Both groups held a deep hatred of each other
The McCarthy-Dundon-Ryan alliance plotted to avenge the murder of Eddie Ryan. Wayne, John, Dessie and Gerard Dundon were born in England, where their father Kenneth had emigrated. During the late 80s or early 90s they began to drift back to Limerick and linked up with their cousins, the McCarthys. They quickly established themselves as major players in the drugs scene. Keane’s gang was by now aligned with the Collopys, other major players in the drugs trade.
The murders or attempted killings grew in savagery. One involved a man being stabbed 17 times and left for dead; another involved a man tortured and then shot. 3 innocent lives were taken, a carpenter, a businessman and a captain of a rugby team.
In January 2003 Kieran Keane was duped into travelling to an isolated spot outside Limerick with his nephew Owen Treacy for a meeting, believing they were going to witness the murder or dead bodies of the Ryan brothers. Allegedly 60,000 was offered to kidnap or kill the Ryans, supposedly the Dundons took the offer but when Keane and Treacy, Keane was overpowered and shot in the head. The gun then jammed and the gang then stabbed Treacy 17 times. Remarkably he survived and gave evidence against five members of the Ryan-McCarthy-Dundon gang. They are all serving life imprisonment.
In July 2003 John Ryan, a brother of Eddie Ryan was shot dead as he worked on the patio of his home at Canon Green Park. He had moved there after being the subject of some 30 gun and petrol bomb attacks at his previous home in St Mary’s Park area.
In October 2003 Michael Campbell-McNamara who was a member of the Keane-Collopy gang and was centrally involved in the feud, was lured to a meeting where he was overpowered, bound hand and foot, then tortured before being shot in the back of the head.
There seemed to be a lull in the murder around this time but the attacks didnt stop, there were shootings and attacks on each others homes throughout until May 2006 Aidan Kelly, was also lured to a meeting outside Limerick where he was shot in the head. Then in September 2006 Frankie Ryan, a member of the Ryan-McCarthy-Dundon gang was shot dead as he sat in his car in Moyross, apparently in retaliation for the murder of Aidan Kelly. From about this point the McCarthy-Dundon faction assume control of the gang from the Ryans.
In December 2006 Noel Crawford, who just turned 40, was shot dead at his birthday party as he stood outside a relative’s house in Southill, after being mistaken for his brother Paul. The house had been attacked a few weeks earlier with a machinegun and Crawford’s five-year-old nephew was injured.
In April 2007 a convicted armed robber Noel Campion, a former associate of the Keanes who was blamed for carrying out the murder of Frankie Ryan was ambushed and shot dead near the city centre as he sat on the back of a motorcycle. There were over 100 shooting incidents in the city in 2007 linked to the feud as rival gang members attacked each other and each other’s homes.
On 5 April 2008, Mark Moloney, a friend of the Keane-Collopys, was shot dead at 3pm as he spoke to a friend outside a shop in Garryowen. Two days later as Gardaí searched waste ground looking for the gun used in Moloney’s murder, they found the body of James Cronin (aged 20) buried in a shallow grave. Gardaí suspect Cronin drove the getaway car in the Maloney murder and was killed by the gang because they feared he would talk to the Gardaí if arrested.
In November of 2008 would see an innocent victim being shot dead in a case of mistaken identity, the captain of the rugby team Shane Geoghegan. He had been returning from a night out with friends after watching the Ireland-Canada rugby match. As he made his way home, Geoghegan noticed he was being followed by a blue Renault people carrier. At around 1.30am a lone gunman wearing a hoodie got out of the vehicle and started chasing after him. As Geoghegan ran, he ran to a garden of a house less than 100 yards from his home, the garden had a high fence, he failed to vault the wall and escape, the gunman, using a Glock semi-automatic, fired four shots at Geoghegan. Then, when he was lying on the ground, he delivered a fatal shot to the head.
Shane Geoghegan had become the 17th victim of the feud but not the last. The intended target was Shane’s neighbour, John McNamara, an ally of the Keane-Collopys who had survived three previous attempts on his life.
In April 2009 would see another innocent victim, Roy Collins, a 35-year-old father of two, who was engaged to be married, died in hospital a short time after he was shot. Mr Collins’ father, Steve Collins, was believed to have been the intended target of the murder, due to his involvement in a previous successful prosecution against one of the Dundon / McCarthy gang for a threat to kill.
In December 2009 would see another innocent victim being shot and killed, Daniel Fitzgerald was shot in the leg and back of the head as he left his uncle’s home following a family visit there. Daniel had no connection or criminal record, its believed it was a case of mistaken identity, up to 17 shots from a Glock semi-automatic were fired.
Throughout the almost 10 years of the feud there were gun attacks, arson attacks, beatings, stabbings. However, in the aftermath of the Shane Geoghegan murder the Irish Government and Gardai (Police) cracked down and took on the gangs, leading to many arrests and convictions, bringing an end to that chapter of Limericks gang feud. Thats not to say that the gangs have gone away or that the feud is over.