Irish Civil War incident

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Feature Article, Issue 3 May/June2013, Letters, Revolutionary Period 1912-23, Volume 21

Sir,—I wonder could any of your readers or subscribers assist with an enquiry? Several years ago a man from Galway told me of an experience during the Civil War when he was aged about eighteen. He was interned for a time by the Free State Army. He said that he had not done what he was accused of doing and that he was released following the intercession of the local priest, who knew him well.

One day while in prison, which as far as I remember was Mountjoy, an officer ordered him and other prisoners to stand in a line in a yard and proceeded to question them. When it came to the turn of the prisoner standing next to my acquaintance, this prisoner, a young man aged about seventeen, became cheeky with the officer. He called out his name and said, ‘You shot my father when you were in the Black and Tans in Cork’. The officer said, ‘And I’ll shoot you as well’, which he did. The officer asked my acquaintance a few questions and then moved on to the next prisoner. This prisoner was also aged about seventeen and from Cork. He also called out the name of the officer, stating that he had been a Black and Tan in Cork. The officer then shot him also.

The man who told me this story is long dead. He said that the names of the victims were Murphy and Fitzgerald. He was sure they were both shot dead. He was very straight and would not make up a story like that. He named the officer but I do not recall this name. I have for some years been trying to find any historical reference to back up this story. Most books on the Civil War concentrate on high-ranking people like Collins, de Valera, Liam Lynch, etc.

In the past year I have read two books written by Martin O’Dwyer, Cashel, Seventy-seven of mine said Ireland and Death before dishonour. The latter book is the type I have been looking for. It recounts several incidents not too dissimilar to the one referred to above but not the incident itself. I have spoken to Mr O’Dwyer and he says, and I agree, that there could be many reasons why my story, based on anecdotal evidence, has not made it into any history book, or at least any book that I know about. Consequently my request is for any information or book reference concerning a Civil War incident in which two young Cork men named Murphy and Fitzgerald were shot by a Free State army officer in an Irish prison yard during the Civil War period of 1922–3.—Yours etc.,

Hazel Lodge
Lissivigeen Upper
Co. Kerry


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