Civilian Michael J. Murphy

Civilian Michael J. Murphy (aged about 21) of 18 Tower Street, Cork city (SS. Peter and Paul’s Church, SS. Peter and Paul’s Place, Cork)

Date of incident: 8 Dec. 1920

Sources: II, 9, 11, 13 Dec. 1920; CE, 9, 10, 13, 14 Dec. 1920; FJ, 9 Dec. 1920; CCE, 11 Dec. 1920; Nenagh Guardian, 11 Dec. 1920; Military Inquests, WO 35/156/11 (TNA). 


Note: Cork ‘was again the scene of wild excitement’ on Wednesday night, 8 December 1920, when there was much gunfire in different parts of the city by military lorries. Shortly after 9 p.m. shots were heard in the vicinity of SS. Peter and Paul Church, where a Triduum of Masses had just opened for members of the Young Men’s Society. When he was shot in the chest, Michael Murphy, a clerk, ‘was standing on the footway before the main door’ of the church. He had been attending the Triduum. Though rushed by ambulance to the North Infirmary, he was dead on arrival. See II, 9 Dec. 1920. Murphy had worked at the GPO in Cork in the telegraph department since the age of 14. He was studying for an exam of some kind. ‘He had no connection with any political association.’ See II, 13 Dec. 1920.

According to the Cork Examiner’s report, indiscriminate firing by soldiers had a fatal effect in the case of Murphy, shot dead just outside SS. Peter and Paul’s Church on 8 December: ‘There were in all about a half dozen [shots], and they were fired in Patrick Street just as the people were leaving SS. Peter and Paul’s Church. There was a wild stampede in the congested precincts of the church, and the terrified congregation rushed back into the church or took such shelter as immediately offered.’ While Murphy lay ‘writhing in agony’, Fr Timothy Cullinane, C.C., ‘anointed him on the steps of the church’. See CE, 9 Dec. 1920. The court of military inquiry concluded, however, that there ‘was no evidence before the court to show under what circumstances the shots [that had killed Murphy] were fired’. See CE, 14 Dec. 1920.

Newspaper sources commonly referred to this victim as Francis Murphy in error. His death notice appeared in the Cork Examiner of 10 December 1920, revealing that he had resided at 18 Tower Street, had been employed at the Cork General Post Office, and had recently transferred to the Telephone Exchange. Michael Murphy and his older brother John were the stepsons of Ellen and John Foran of 18 Tower Street in Cork; the Forans had two sons of their own in 1911. John Foran was then a local inspector of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 

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