Fianna Éireann Scout Patrick Hanley

Fianna Éireann Scout Patrick Hanley (aged 17) of 2 Broad Street, Cork city (2 Broad Street, Cork)

Date of incident: night of 17-18 Nov. 1920 (‘shortly before midnight’)

Sources: II, 18, 19, 20 Nov. 1920; CE, 19, 20, 25, 27 Nov. 1920; FJ, 19, 20, 25 Nov. 1920; CCE, 20 Nov. 1920; CC, 25 Nov. 1920; CWN, 27 Nov., 4 Dec. 1920; Kerryman, 27 Nov. 1920; George Hurley’s WS 1630, 3-4 (BMH); Leo Buckley’s WS 1714, 5-7 (BMH); IRA Roll of Honour, Cork No. 1 Brigade (Cork Museum, Fitzgerald Park, Cork); Last Post (1976), 74; Hart (1998), 1-18; Borgonovo (2007), 107; Leeson (2011), 66, 189; irishmedals.org (accessed 28 July 2014).


Note: A labourer, the teenager Patrick Hanley was gunned down on the night of 17-18 November 1920 in his home in Cork city in reprisal for the killing of Sergeant O’Donoghue. Mrs Stephen Coleman, who lived below Hanley at 2 Broad Street, described the man who broke open her front door, charged up the stairs, and burst into her and her husband’s bedroom as ‘a man wearing a uniform, a cap, and goggles’. This same gunman then went further upstairs and killed Patrick Hanley with a bullet just above the heart. The gunman fired even though Hanley declared, ‘Don’t shoot. I am an orphan and my mother’s chief support.’ See II, 19 Nov. 1920. Hanley and Charles O’Brien were both members of the Fianna Éireann.

City Volunteer officer Leo Buckley was another witness of the murder of Patrick Hanley and the shooting of Stephen Coleman and later provided this vivid account: ‘By peering out my back window, I was able to look into the back rooms of a house in Broad St, and I saw two men mounting the stairs. They wore R.I.C. caps and great coats, and they had motor goggles on their faces. They entered the room on the first floor, and I saw both of them open fire on the people in bed [Stephen Coleman and his wife]. I heard a woman scream. They then mounted to the second floor, and the flash lamps they used as they climbed the stairs gave me a good picture of them. They entered the back room on the second floor, and I distinctly heard a boy’s voice saying, “Oh God, sir, don’t shoot me.” Both men opened fire and several bullets were sent into young Hanley’s body. The people fired on who lived on the first floor had a miraculous escape according to a report I heard next day.’ Buckley was convinced that Hanley ‘had been shot in mistake for [Volunteer Tommy] Healy’, who had helped to kill Sergeant O’Donoghue. Furthermore, Hanley ‘lived in the home of Volunteer Willie Joe O’Brien and was his brother-in-law’. O’Brien’s younger brother was badly wounded that same night. See Leo Buckley’s WS 1714, 6-7 (BMH).

Willie Joe O’Brien was in 1911 one of the six living children (eight born) of Hannah O’Brien and her absent husband, who may have been a seaman like her eldest son Thomas. Five sons and one daughter lived with her in that year at house 17.1 Broad Lane in Cork city. Aged 13 in 1911, Willie Joe would have been 22 or 23 at the time of his brother-in-law Patrick Hanley’s death. Willie Joe’s wounded Fianna brother Charles would have been about 16 years old in late 1920. The O’Briens appear to have been a republican family.  

Writing under the headline of ‘Thou shalt not kill’, an editorial writer for the Cork Examiner declared that ‘it seems to be the case that the shooting of Sergt. O’Donoghue was the impelling motive that secured vengeance in the killing of three other citizens, in dangerously wounding two others, and in the unbridled display of frightfulness which took the form of indiscriminate firing in the public unlighted streets during the hours of darkness on Thursday morning [18 November]’. Quoted in II, 20 Nov. 1920.

While the remains of Volunteer Eugene O’Connell and Fianna scout Patrick Hanley were laid out in the mortuary of Mercy Hospital in Cork, ‘large crowds gathered, and many hundreds made a pilgrimage to the scene to breathe a prayer for the repose of their souls’. See II, 20 Nov. 1920. The removal of Hanley’s remains from the Mercy Hospital to SS. Peter and Paul’s Church was also made the occasion for a great display by the Cork city members of Fianna Éireann. His coffin was ‘shouldered by four of his Fianna comrades right through, while a guard of honour of six of his comrades, in uniform, accompanied the funeral. The different companies of the Fianna had lined up in Prospect Row, and they stood to attention while the coffin was passing, subsequently joining in the cortege. Connecting files of the boy’s comrades were also formed on both sides of the procession, and on the coffin, which was draped with the tri-colour flag, was placed his Scout hat. In the mortuary chapel attached to the Church of SS. Peter and Paul’s, both coffins [Eugene O’Connell’s too] were placed side by side, the guard of honour standing to attention. The wreath on the coffin bore the inscription: “With deepest sympathy from the officers and boys of the Cork Brigade, Fianna. May the Lord have mercy on his soul. In the service of Ireland he lost his life.”’ See CE, 20 Nov. 1920. Hanley was buried in the Republican Plot in St Finbarr’s Cemetery.

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