Six IRA men from the 1st Battalion, Cork No. 1 Brigade are massacred when they are surrounded in a barn in Clogheen by the British Army. Their whereabouts may have been provided to army intelligence by a fellow IRA member who broke under questioning. In April 1922, the IRA shot a Patrick O’Connor in New York whom they believed was the informer.
Cornelius O’Keefe farmed 105 acres at Ballycannon, on the road leading from Clogheen to Tower; he lived there with his family. Their house was a known ‘safe house’ where volunteers could shelter when it was unsafe for them to sleep at home. On the farm there were secure hiding places for the guns and explosives with which they carried out their missions. At four in the morning of Wednesday, 23 April, O’Keefe was awakened by a furious knocking on the front door of his house. Upon looking, he saw a large force of police. As he struggled to put on some clothes the door was broken in by the blows of rifle butts. The family was ordered back to the bedrooms and the house was thoroughly searched. The attention of the raiders then switched to the farmyard, where six volunteers were discovered asleep in a barn.
The police brought down bodies in blankets and laid them outside the house in the boreen, which led from the O’Keeffe farmyard to the public road. At six in the morning they were placed in lorries which then drove away. Meanwhile, Cornelius O’Keeffe had been brought across the field where he saw five bodies laid out in blankets. He watched as they were placed in the lorries. In his sworn deposition he stated that a sixth man was then brought out blindfolded, still alive, and was also put in the lorry. O’Keefe was put in a third lorry, which followed the other two to Victoria Barracks. There the first two lorries sped off and he lost sight of them. He was imprisoned in a cell in the Barracks and kept there until on 17 April, he was finally released without charge.
The six members of the IRA. who were massacred were:
Daniel Crowley, age 23, plasterer, second son of Patrick and Elizabeth Crowley of 171 Blarney St.
William Deasy, age 20, second son of William Deasy, Mount Desert, Blarney Rd.
Thomas Dennehy, age 21, sixth son of Kate and the late Patrick Dennehy of 104 Blarney St.
Daniel Murphy, age 24, second son of the late Edward Murphy, Orrery Hill, off Blarney St.
Jeremiah O’Mullane, age 23, eldest son of Jeremiah and Nora O’Mullane, 237 Blarney St.
Michael O’Sullivan, age 20, eldest son of Stephen and Margaret O’Sullivan, 281 Blarney St.
Patrick Connors is still remembered in Cork as “Connors the Spy” or “Shafter Connors”, the man who betrayed his fellow countrymen and caused the death of six young Irish volunteers.
Image | Clogheen Ambush Memorial, Co Cork