1921 – Two IRA volunteers, the Coffey brothers, are executed in their beds.

Volunteers James and Timothy Coffey were from Breaghna, Enniskeane, Co Cork, the eldest boys in the family of eight of farming parents James and Margaret Coffey.

In the early hours of Monday 14 February 1921, the soldiers of the Essex Regiment and Black and Tans were escorted by two masked civilians, who were members of the ‘Anti-Sinn Féin Society’, to the home of the Coffey brothers. They were led directly to the room where 24-year-old James and 23-year-old Timothy were sleeping. James was no. 66 and Timothy no. 67 on a ‘black list’ (number; name; address; ‘SF activities’; and ‘whether on the run’) of 168 IRA volunteers from Upton to Dunmanway, which had been compiled by the Essex Regiment in the Bandon and Dunmanway Barracks from information supplied by both Catholic and Protestant informers.

The two brothers were ordered out of their beds and hastily got dressed before being led to the top of O’Donoghue’s field nearby. There they were interrogated about the death of a 56-year-old local farmer, Thomas Bradfield from Knockmacool, who had been abducted and murdered on 1 February 1921. Following interrogation (and torture), both brothers were executed at the top of the field. The seed of the now infamous Bandon Valley massacre was sown when the two masked men led Crown forces into the Coffey home, and matured several months later when those same forces vacated the military barracks in Dunmanway, leaving behind, unfortunately for some people, a diary containing their names, and those of other informers.

Photo: An ignoble Black n Tan; impiously he stands gazing into the distance with machine gun at hand, as the sweet aromatic smoke from his smouldering cigarette defiles his wicked lungs. Photo colourised by 1916 Easter Revolution in Colour

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