1920 – The Roman Catholic Bishop of Cork, Daniel Colahan, issued a decree saying that “anyone within the diocese of Cork who organises or takes part in ambushes or murder or attempted murder shall be excommunicated”.

Referring to violent activity by the IRA, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Cork, Daniel Cohalan, issued a decree saying that “anyone within the diocese of Cork who organises or takes part in ambushes or murder or attempted murder shall incur by the very fact the censure of excommunication.” His condemnation was ill-received by his Catholic flock who saw at least two priests, Canon Thomas J. Magner and Father Michael Griffin in Co Galway, killed by rampaging British troops.

At midday mass in the North Cathedral the Bishop of Cork, Daniel Cohalan, condemned the arson but said that the burning of the city was a result of the “murderous ambush at Dillon’s Cross” and vowed “I will certainly issue a decree of excommunication against anyone who, after this notice, shall take part in an ambush or a kidnapping or attempted murder or arson”. A meeting of Cork Corporation was held that afternoon at the Corn Exchange. Councillor J.J. Walsh condemned the bishop for his comments, which he claimed held the Irish people up as the “evil-doers”. He said that while the people of Cork had been suffering, “not a single word of protest was uttered [by the bishop], and today, after the city has been decimated, he saw no better course than to add insult to injury”. Councillor Michael Ó Cuill, alderman Tadhg Barry and the Lord Mayor agreed with Walsh’s sentiments. The members resolved that the Lord Mayor should send a telegram asking for the intervention of the European governments and the USA.

Three days after the fire and decimation, on 15 December, two lorry-loads of Auxiliaries were travelling from Dunmanway to Cork for the funeral of Spencer Chapman, their comrade killed at Dillon’s Cross. When they met two men (an elderly priest and a farmer’s son) helping a resident magistrate fix his car, an Auxiliary got out and began questioning them. He then shot them both dead. A military court of inquiry heard that he had been a friend of Chapman and had been “drinking steadily” since his death. He was found guilty of murder, but insane.

Cork went on to become one of the most violent counties during the War of Independence.

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