Volunteer Section Commander William Danaher

Volunteer Section Commander William Danaher (aged about 23) of Broadford, Co. Limerick (Newmarket)

Date of incident: 21 June 1920

Sources: II, 22, 23 June 1920; Christopher O’Keefe’s WS 761, 9-10 (BMH); Denny Mullane’s WS 798, 12-13 (BMH); Timothy O’Shea’s WS 1213, 4 (BMH); James M. Roche’s WS 1225 (BMH); IRA Memorial, West Limerick Brigade, Newcastle West.    

Note: Danaher was severely injured on 21 June 1920 during the Volunteers’ destruction of Dromcolliher courthouse, located in Pike Street in that town, about 150 yards from the RIC barracks. The Irish Independent of 22 June reported the event as follows: ‘In an attempt to burn the courthouse at Drumcollogher [sic], 5 miles from Charleville, yesterday morning, two men were killed and burned to ashes and a number of others wounded by a terrific explosion shortly after the building was entered. The courthouse was surrounded by a large party of men. Several entered the building with tins of petrol, and a few moments afterwards a deafening explosion was heard. The whole structure burst into flames and in a short time was reduced to ashes, only the bare walls standing.’ See II, 22 June 1920.

In this incident Patrick Buckley was killed and three other Volunteers—David Brennan, William Danaher, and Jack O’Farrell (or Farrell)—were dragged from the building with severe burns. Having been anointed by a local priest (Canon John Begley, P.P.), they were rushed to safe houses in north Cork. O’Farrell survived, though his face was permanently disfigured. Danaher and Brennan succumbed. Danaher was brought to the house of P. D. Casey, the creamery sub-manager in Newmarket. Though he received immediate medical and spiritual attention, he died there of his injuries on the following day. The Volunteers later took his remains for temporary burial in Rockchapel. Prior to the removal of his remains, there was a wake, and the local Volunteers ‘left nothing undone to ensure that all arrangements worked perfectly’. That night the Black and Tans burned down the local creamery at Newmarket; the military intervened, but by that time ‘only the walls remained’. Christopher O’Keefe’s WS 761, 9-10 (BMH).

Former Volunteer Timothy O’Shea, O/C of the Dromcolliher Volunteer Company, later recalled this tragic incident: ‘In June 1920, in a discussion with Seán Finn, Brigade O/C, he ordered me to have the courthouse in Drumcollogher burned down. I issued instructions to the company to procure petrol and paraffin for the job. All of the men of the company, assisted by members of the Feohanagh, Broadford, and other companies, took part. About eight men carried out the actual burning, while the others were on guard or outpost duty, armed with shotguns or revolvers. The eight men took a pump into the courthouse after they had broken down the door. With this pump they sprayed the body of the courthouse with petrol. In a second or two there was a great explosion. All but one of the eight managed to get out. One was trapped inside. Two of those who got out died within a few hours. The names of the three men who lost their lives were Pat Buckley, William Danaher, and David Brennan. A fourth man, though badly burned, survived. His name is Jack Farrell.’ See Timothy O’Shea’s WS 1213, 4 (BMH).

Volunteer Liam Danaher was born at Bawnmore near Broadford in 1897 and educated at the Broadford National School, like his comrade and fellow victim, Volunteer Lieutenant David Brennan. Danaher was one of the six living children (seven born) of the Banemore or Bawnmore farm servant Michael Danaher, a widower in 1911 with two sons (including Liam, then aged 14) co-resident with him. Liam had joined the Volunteers in 1917 at the age of about 20 and had served with the Broadford Company of the Third Battalion of the West Limerick Brigade. See Official Souvenir [of] West Limerick Old I.R.A. Memorial at Newcastle West in Memory of 17 Officers and Men of West Limerick, 1916-1922, Unveiled by His Excellency Seán T. Ó Ceallaigh, Uachtaran na hEireann, Easter Sunday, 10th April 1955, in James M. Roche’s WS 1225 (BMH).   

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