Volunteer Vice-Commandant Michael MacCarthy

Volunteer Vice-Commandant Michael MacCarthy (aged about 22) of East Green, Dunmanway (Kilmichael ambush)

Date of incident: 28 Nov. 1920

Sources: II, 30 Nov. 1921; Patrick O’Brien’s WS 812, 14-17 (BMH); Timothy Keohane’s WS 1295, 5-7 (BMH); Michael O’Driscoll’s WS 1297, 4-5 (BMH); Edward Young’s WS 1402, 13-16 (BMH); Cornelius Kelleher’s WS 1654, 10-11 (BMH); Rebel Cork’s FS, 207; Barry (1949, 1989), 44-46, 236; Deasy (1973), 172, 176-77, 322; Last Post (1976), 75; Abbott (2000), 159; ‘The Irish Rebellion in the 6th Division Area’, Irish Sword, 27 (Spring 2010), 66; Kautt (2010), 99-118; Sheehan (2011), 14, 30, 121, 146; Ó hÉalaithe (2014), 273; Murphy (2014), 65-156; Castletown-Kinneigh Graveyard Monument.  


Note: MacCarthy was one of the three Volunteers killed or mortally wounded at Kilmichael. In his after-action report Tom Barry attributed the republican casualties to the fact that that these Volunteers had been too anxious to get into close quarters with the enemy and had discarded their cover. See ‘The Irish Rebellion in the 6th Division Area’, Irish Sword, 27 (Spring 2010), 66.

MacCarthy was vice-commandant of the Third (Dunmanway) Battalion of the Cork No. 3 Brigade at the time of his death. The bodies of Mick MacCarthy and Jim O’Sullivan, along with the dying Pat Deasy, were taken to the house of Cornelius Buttimer of Gortroe. A local priest named Fr Charles Gould came to administer the last rites to Deasy, who soon expired. The Buttimers ‘were anxious to have the bodies removed, as they expected that their home would be burned out as a reprisal [for the Kilmichael ambush] before morning’. As the captain of the Kilmichael Volunteer Company recalled, ‘I decided to have some rough coffins made and to bury the bodies as quickly as possible. . . . We immediately set about making rough coffins from floor boards, taken from a vacant cottage nearby. When the coffins were made, we placed the bodies in them and buried them in a bog, from which they were removed about three days later. They were now accorded a proper burial at Castletown-Kinneigh. The burial took place at night and was carried out by men from Cork III Brigade.’ See Cornelius Kelleher’s WS 1654, 10-11 (BMH). 

Fr Patrick O’Connell, the parish priest of Enniskeen and Ballineen, presided over this triple nocturnal funeral at Castletown-Kinneigh, which was attended by many local people. He ‘addressed those present in moving terms and paid his tribute to the dead and to the brigade which was carrying on such a glorious fight for freedom. His concluding words made such an impression that they were soon being repeated all over the district; they gave a message of hope and encouragement as well as consolation. He said that whether as soldiers or civilians, the future destiny of our country was in our hands and must be regarded as a sacred trust by all. He reminded us that every man had but one life, and if the freedom of his country demanded it, then he must be prepared to sacrifice it willingly.’ See Deasy (1973), 177. 

Michael MacCarthy was one of the nine living children (ten born) of the Dunmanway (East Green) master cooper Daniel MacCarthy and his wife Margaret. Three of Michael’s brothers, one of his sisters, and Michael himself co-resided with their parents in 1911. 

The Irish Revolution Project

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