Civilian John (or Denis) Regan or O’Regan

Civilian John (or Denis) Regan or O’Regan (aged 21 or 22) of Knockaveale (Ballymodan) near Bandon (Ballinroher near Clonakilty Junction)

Date of incident: 7 Dec. 1920

Sources: Death Certificate, 7 Dec. 1920; CE, 8, 9, 11 Dec. 1920, 14 July 1921; II, 9, 11 Dec. 1920; CCE, 11 Dec. 1920, 16 July 1921; CWN, 18 Dec. 1920; Military Inquests, WO 35/161A (TNA); Irish Bulletin, 4:1 (3 Jan. 1921); Barry (1949, 1989), 61; Last Post (1976), 76.


Note: Regan’s body was found at Clashfluck, midway between Clonakilty and Timoleague, on Tuesday, 7 December 1920, with a bullet wound in the head. The manner of Regan’s death falls into the wider pattern of arrest and detention for questioning, followed by extrajudicial killing while in custody. Regan had been employed by the farmer Denis Flynn of Gaggan, with whom he had been arrested by troops from Bandon on the morning of Tuesday, 7 December; both had been taken to Clonakilty. Then one lorry took Flynn to Bandon, where he was later released. Another lorry took Regan by a circuitous route in the Timoleague direction, and nothing was heard of him until the ‘discovery’ of his body that Tuesday evening, when policemen conveyed it to their barracks in Clonakilty. Regan’s father identified the body there on Thursday, 9 December. His son’s remains were then taken to the parish church in Clonakilty, accompanied by large numbers of sympathisers. A coffin was procured from Bandon, and the remains were removed there later that day for interment. The burial took place on Friday, 10 December, in Bandon. See CE, 11 Dec. 1920.

A death certificate for John Regan indicates that he was a farm labourer aged 22 and that he died on 7 December 1920 at Ballinroher in Templequinlan parish near Clonakilty Junction; the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the occipital region of the skull from a high-velocity bullet, and the death was ruled a homicide. See Death Certificate, 7 Dec. 1920. The Irish Bulletin concluded that he had been killed while in British custody. See Irish Bulletin, 4:1 (3 Jan. 1921).

The Last Post stated that Regan had been buried in St Patrick’s Graveyard in Bandon. See Last Post, 76. This is corroborated by a newspaper report in the Irish Independent. According to the Independent of 11 December, Regan’s was one of two bodies interred in the Republican Plot in St Patrick’s Graveyard on Friday, 10 December. This appears to be incorrect. The Cork Examiner of 11 December simply asserted that Regan’s burial had taken place on 10 December in Bandon’s ‘New Cemetery’—a part of St Patrick’s Graveyard. If so, it was without a gravestone that can now be identified. Though there is some circumstantial evidence that Regan was a Volunteer, other information points towards civilian status. Tom Barry noted, ‘Young Crowley of Bantry, a cripple, and Denis O’Regan of Castlefreke, another civilian, were arrested and deliberately murdered’. See Barry (1949, 1989), 61.

John Regan was in 1911 one of the five children (three sons and two daughters) of the Knockaveale (Ballymodan) labourer Michael Regan and his wife Abina. All five of their children (including their second son John, then aged 11) co-resided with them at Knockaveale in that year. The parents were described as ‘poor labouring people’ when in July 1921 they appealed an earlier decision by County Court Judge Hynes in which they had been denied any compensation for the death of their son on 7 December 1920. Their legal representatives in this latest case, solicitors P. J. O’Driscoll of Bandon and J. F. Bourke, informed the court that there had been ‘a military inquiry and the verdict returned was that [the] deceased was found shot, and that none of the soldiers that were in the lorry [taking their son John from Clonakilty to Bandon] was called to give evidence, the only witnesses examined being the police inspector and deceased’s father and mother’. See CCE, 16 July 1921.

Tom Barry referred to Denis (or John) Regan as a resident of Castlefreke. It should be noted, however, that Castlefreke is located some distance from where Regan worked (at Cashel More near Gaggan in Ballymodan parish), lived in 1911 (at Knockaveale, also in Ballymodan parish), and died (at Ballinroher in Templequinlan parish).  

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