Volunteer Denis Ring

Volunteer Denis Ring (aged about 23) of Killeendooling near Midleton (Killeendooling)

Date of incident: 9 Nov. 1920 (date of death)

Sources: MSPC/1D104 (Military Archives); FJ, 12 Nov. 1920; II, 12 Nov. 1920; CE, 24 Nov. 1920; IRA Roll of Honour, Cork No. 1 Brigade (Cork Museum, Fitzgerald Park, Cork); Last Post (3rd ed., 1985), 121; Midleton IRA Memorial, Main Street, Midleton; http://midletonheritage.com/2015/12/11/few-families-suffered-as-we-did-war-of-independence-pension-files-associated-with-midleton/ (accessed 13 March 2016).


Note: It was publicly reported that Denis Ring had been mortally wounded when he ‘fell off a hayrick in his father’s haggard [at Killeendooling near Midleton]. He struck a fork, one of the prongs penetrating his side and inflicting injuries to which the young man later succumbed.’ He died of his wounds on 9 November 1920. See FJ, 12 Nov. 1920. But the IRA pension claim later made by his father Maurice Ring stated that his son was a Volunteer who had accidentally shot himself while cleaning a gun he thought was unloaded. Denis Ring was said on this death certificate to have died of ‘natural causes’—no doubt in an effort to save his home and family from the possibility of reprisals by British forces. His father gave his date of death as 10 November 1920. Denis Ring was a member of the Fourth Battalion of the Cork No. 1 Brigade. See MSPC/1D104 (Military Archives). 

The death of Ring, ‘who was a most popularly [sic] and highly respected young man, occasioned feelings of deep and sincere regret amongst the people of Midleton and all over East Cork, and the sorrow and sympathy evoked by his demise was eloquently testified to by the exceedingly large and representative attendance of the general public at his funeral. The remains, followed by a large cortege, were borne from the residence [at Killeendooling] to the parish church of the Most Holy Rosary [in Midleton], where the coffin, placed on a catafalque in front of the High Altar, remained overnight. At ten o’clock next morning a Requiem High Mass for the repose of the soul of the deceased was celebrated in the church, [with] a large congregation attending out of respect to his memory. . . . Subsequently, at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, the remains were interred in the adjoining Rosary Cemetery, and at the obsequies there was again a large attendance of the people. . . . The church choir sang the music of the Mass in Gregorian chant, and Choppin’s [sic] Funeral March resounded from the organ as the remains were being conveyed from the church to their final resting-place.’ See CE, 24 Nov. 1920. 

In 1911 Denis Ring (then aged 13) was one of the twelve living children (fifteen born) of the Killeendooling farmer Maurice Ring and his wife Margaret during their nineteen years of marriage at that point. The family resided in a large household headed by Margaret Ring’s 83-year-old father John Moore. Volunteer Ring was then the third of six sons and the fourth of the twelve living children. A few other children were born after 1911.

Pension records relating to Volunteer Ring are revealing, if sometimes contradictory: His father owned a large farm of 195 acres at Killeendooling, and though he had a very numerous family to support, he was said by a local Garda sergeant in 1924 to be ‘in fairly good circumstances’. At the time of his son’s death, however, the father was already an invalid in his early sixties. He had been partly dependent on his deceased son Denis in the management of the farm. See Garda Sergeant A. Beirne to Garda Superintendent (Dublin), 17 March 1924.

The office of the Army Adjutant General took a different view in February 1926: ‘[Denis Ring’s] parents are in very poor circumstances, having a family of 15 to support out of a small mountain farm.’ See Adjutant General to Minister for Defence, 21 Feb. 1926. The official death certificate for Volunteer Denis Ring ‘was bogus in order to take suspicion off the home, the family, and the locality’. He was ‘accidentally shot when cleaning his own revolver’. See Tadhg Manley (Fine Gael T.D. for Cork South) to Secretary, Department of Defence, 13 June 1957. Manley commented in an earlier letter of late May 1956 on the recent death of Denis Ring’s apparently invalid brother John Ring: ‘John Ring, Killeendooling, Midleton, Co. Cork, and late of The Cottage Hospital, Midleton, was buried last Saturday. Under the 1952 [pensions] act he was claiming benefit on the brother’s being killed in 1920. . . . The main-stay and bread winner of the family was shot accidentally in 1920. Had he survived, the Rings would certainly have retained their holding, which subsequently had to be sold. Had he survived, the recently deceased [brother John Ring] would have had someone to look after him in his fallen state.’ Tadhg Manley to Secretary, Department of Defence, 30 May 1956, at http://midletonheritage.com/2015/12/11/few-families-suffered-as-we-did-war-of-independence-pension-files-associated-with-midleton/ (accessed 13 March 2016).  

The Irish Revolution Project

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