RIC Constable Edward Bolger

RIC Constable Edward Bolger (aged 47) of Kilbrittain (Kilbrittain)

Date of incident: 14 Dec. 1919

Sources: CE, 16, 18, 19 Dec. 1919; II, 16 Dec. 1919; CCE, 20 Dec. 1919; CWN, 20 Dec. 1919; Ulster Herald, 20 Dec. 1919; Donegal News, 20 Dec. 1919; WS 560 of James O’Mahony et al., 6-7 (BMH); Michael J. Crowley’s WS 1603, 4 (BMH); Abbott (2000), 47-48; Rebel Cork’s FS (2009 ed.), 25.


Note: A native of County Kilkenny with twenty-eight years of service in the RIC, Constable Bolger was shot dead by members of the Kilbrittain Volunteer Company as he was returning at about 6:30 p.m. from his home in Kilbrittain to his barracks (only about seventy yards away). He had been stationed in Kilbrittain for more than fifteen years and had previously served in Clonakilty. His daughter found his body in the road minutes after the shooting. A newspaper report claimed that Bolger ‘was very popular in both places and was regarded as a capable and efficient officer who never exceeded his duties’. See II, 16 Dec. 1919.

Yet Bolger had made himself unpopular among local republicans by his hyperactivity in conducting raids and carrying out arrests of local IRA men. He ‘had arrested seven IRA men in October [1919] and had been the principal witness against them at their trial in November, during which a serious riot developed at the courthouse’. These seven suspects were released on 12 December, but two days later Bolger was killed. See Abbott (2000), 47-48.

Bolger and an RIC sergeant at Kilbrittian had been marked men for months.  According to James O’Mahony and two other former Volunteers, Bolger and the RIC sergeant were known to frequent a certain public house in Kilbrittain, and an IRA scout was posted outside the pub throughout late October, November, and early December in order to facilitate their killing: ‘On 17-20 occasions between 24th Oct. and 15th Dec., Volunteers waited in the vicinity to enter the ambuscade at [a] signal from the observer, but all attempts proved abortive, as the “wanted” men could not be got together, and the ambush party, having already run considerable risk by coming so often, could not be in position regularly because of the frequency of R.I.C. raiding parties in the village and the close proximity of [the] ambuscade position to the barracks. On Dec. 15th [sic] an order was issued to shoot one of the wanted R.I.C. men and this was executed on the 16th [sic]. The man on outside observation duty got the ambush party into position and had to remain close by to signal the “wanted” man as a second unwanted R.I.C. man was due too and did pass by a few minutes before the ambush took place. As the ambush party got into action, this man [the IRA scout] obliterated all signs of their previous position and severed telegraphic connection between the barracks and Kinsale, while a second Vol[unteer] on duty outside the village severed connection between the barracks and Bandon, with the result that headq[uarte]rs had no knowledge of the affair until next day, when great numbers of R.I.C. men came on the scene. The local sergeant was immediately removed and replaced by a sergeant from headq[uarte]rs who had previously been stationed in the area and was known to be hostile to the Volunteer movement.’ See WS 560 of James O’Mahony et al., 6-7 (BMH).

At the coroner’s inquest Dr. Hennessy of Bandon stated that the fatal wound was located ‘in the right flank, [midway] between the lower rib and hip bone, the bullet penetrating the abdominal cavity, rupturing the vicera [sic] and large blood vessels’. Sergeant Bolger left a wife and four children. See II, 16 Dec. 1919.

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