Volunteer Captain John Gallivan or Galvin

Volunteer Captain John Gallivan or Galvin (aged 18) of South Main Street, Bandon (near Laurel Walk, on Bandon-Dunmanway road)

Date of incident: 2 Dec. 1920

Sources: II, 4, 9 Dec. 1920; CE, 4 Dec. 1920; CCE, 11 Dec. 1921; CWN, 11 Dec. 1920; Military Inquests, WO 35/150/50 (TNA); Charles O’Donoghue’s WS 1607, 10 (BMH); Rebel Cork’s FS, 207; Barry (1949, 1989), 53-56, 236; Last Post (1976), 76; ‘The Irish Rebellion in the 6th Division Area’, Irish Sword, 27 (Spring 2010), 140; http://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/essex-deserters/essex-deserters.html (accessed 3 Aug. 2014); ‘Death of Three Bandon Volunteers’, http://homepage.eircom.net/~corkcounty/Bandon_Killings.html (accessed 9 Oct. 2015); IRA Memorial, Dunmanway Road, Bandon.  


Note: Captain of F Company of the 1st (Bandon) Battalion of the Cork No. 3 Brigade, John Gallivan and his two fellow Volunteers were victims of execution by British forces after falling into their custody in connection with a planned meeting between Tom Barry and the Essex sergeant brother of the self-declared British deserter Private Percy Taylor. According to Tom Barry’s account, Gallivan alone was to have joined him, and not at the appointed meeting place. First, Barry parleyed with Taylor and reached an agreement to meet Taylor’s Essex brother. ‘On the following night’, Barry recalled, ‘a dispatch was sent to the O.C. of the Bandon Company [Gallivan] to meet me at 8 p.m. on December 3rd [recte 2nd], at a point half a mile from the meeting place arranged for the [Essex] sergeant and myself. The company captain was instructed to come alone and unarmed. Nothing else but this bare instruction was contained in the dispatch.’ Barry and a Volunteer guard of three riflemen ‘were to call for the sergeant’s brother [Private Taylor] and drive to a point a mile from the meeting place with the Bandon Company captain. From there it was planned to approach the rendezvous cautiously, through the fields, with a gun against the back of the deserter [Percy Taylor], so it is practically certain we could not have been trapped.’ See Barry (1949, 1989), 53-56, quote on 54. With Tom Barry suddenly stricken by a serious illness, however, this dangerous plan miscarried. 

John Gallivan or Galvin appears in the 1911 census as the co-resident nephew (then aged 9) of his uncle and aunt Jeremiah and Ellen Gallivan, farmers at Kilcolman (Ballymackean) near Ballinspittle. These Gallivans (the 1911 census spelling of their surname) had only one child of their own (Michael, aged 17) after twenty-five years of marriage. Their nephew (the later Volunteer) John Galvin or Gallivan appears to have been a non-resident son of the Oldcourt (Ballymakean) farmer Michael Gallivan and his wife Nora, who in 1911 were the parents of eight living children (ten born), of whom only five were then co-resident with them. These five children ranged in age from 3 to 16, with a ‘gap’ between 7 and 13 belonging probably to the absent John (aged 9). The family spelled their surname as Gallivan for the census-taker in 1911, but in 1901, when they had also resided in house 6 at Oldcourt, with four children aged 6 or younger, they spelled their surname as Galvin.  According to Liam Deasy’s account of the killings, ‘they were seized, ill-treated, and then shot dead.’  [Deasy, 177-8]  Tom Barry wrote, ‘It is perhaps just as well that there are no details of treatment handed out to Galvin, Begley, and O’Donoghue.  The only certainty is the three corpses were found the following morning lying on the road near where they were intercepted.  The bodies showed marks of ill-treatment.’  [Barry, 55]  The military inquest evidence on the other hand, reported the three men were killed by a patrol when trying to escape after being challenged.  Gallivan was shot in the back of the head by a sergeant in the Essex Regiment.   Gallivan’s body was identified by a RIC sergeant who gave the Volunteer’s address as South Main Street, Bandon.  The medical evidence from Doctor Whelpy who examined the bodies, merely stated that Gallivan had a gunshot wound [and exit wound] in the head.

Volunteer Gallivan was interred on 5 December 1920 in the new Republican Plot at St Patrick’s Graveyard in Bandon. He had been born on 9 May 1902 and as a youth had worked at his uncle’s garage on South Main Street in Bandon, where he joined the Volunteers in 1919. [We are greatly indebted to John Desmond of Bandon for the occupational and family background of Volunteer Gallivan.] A funeral card gives Gallivan’s age as 18, his position as captain of F Company of the First Battalion of the West Cork Brigade, and his name in Irish as Seán ua Gealbain. [Our thanks to Brendan O’Donoghue for this information.]

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