RIC Constable Thomas Joseph Walsh

RIC Constable Thomas Joseph Walsh (aged 27) from Dublin (near Blarney)

Date of incident: 6 Nov. 1920 (abducted, executed, and disappeared as intelligence operative by IRA)

Sources: IT, 22 Aug. 1921; Seán Healy’s WS 1479, 31-33 (BMH); Abbott (2000), 313.


Note: Walsh was abducted after boarding a Dublin-bound train at Blarney and was executed hours later. His ordeal was recounted by former city Volunteer Seán Healy: ‘In November 1920 a Black and Tan inspector named Walsh, who was one of those [expletive deleted] Irishmen in the British forces, was removed from a train at Blarney and given the reward he deserved. A member of the Parcels Office staff at Cork railway station named M. Kelly reported that an armed Black and Tan officer in mufti had entered the Parcels Office and carefully examined the place, at the same time scrutinising all members of the staff. He appeared to be looking for some particular individual, as he demanded the names of those present. He spoke of all railwaymen as being Sinn Feiners and referred to them in derogatory terms. I at once reported the matter to our brigade H.Q. and received peremptory instructions that immediate action should be taken to put this officer permanently out of commission. Inquiries revealed that he intended travelling to Dublin by the night mail train on a special mission. I contacted [Volunteer] Lieutenant D. Duggan and Volunteer Val Ivers, two members of our Active Service Unit. The three of us then decided to travel on the same train and alight at Blarney and deal with this man as instructed.

‘When we alighted at Blarney station, we entered the compartment in which the Black and Tan was travelling. We told him we were I.R.A. men and disarmed him and removed him from the train, at the same time informing him that he was to be brought before a court martial and that if he attempted to escape, he would be shot. [Walsh took advantage of the very dark night and the fog covering the countryside to make his escape. But the local Volunteer company under Frank Busteed organised a manhunt at about 1 a.m.]. . . The district was then combed—woods, fields, and farms being searched. The Black and Tan was eventually retaken about 4 a.m. He was found by some of the Blarney men hiding in a cowshed. A drumhead court-martial took place. He was found guilty of being a traitor to his country, and he paid the supreme penalty. . . . All crown forces in Cork and district were quickly alerted, and the whole force was called upon to take part in a countrywide search which continued over a long period. Beyond the information that their officer joined a train at Cork, no clue could be obtained regarding his mysterious disappearance.’ See Seán Healy’s WS 1479, 31-33 (BMH).

Constable Walsh appeared on the list of ‘missing persons’ published in the Irish Times of 22 August 1921. According to Abbott, Walsh was reported missing on 6 November 1920, but his RIC record indicated that he was dismissed from the force on that date. The RIC record indicated merely that he was stationed somewhere in the East Riding of Cork. His burial place remains unknown. Constable Walsh had been a member of the RIC for only one year; he had previously been a soldier and a mechanic. See Abbott (2000), 313.

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