Civilian Thomas Cotter

Civilian Thomas Cotter (aged about 55) of Curraclogh (Warrenscourt) near Macroom (Curraclogh)

Date of incident: 1 March 1921 (executed as suspected spy by IRA)

Sources: CE, 3 March 1921; IT, 3 March 1921; FJ, 3 March 1921; CCE, 5 March 1921; CWN, 26 March 1921; Military Inquests, WO 35/147B/14 (TNA); RIC County Inspector’s Monthly Report, West Riding, March 1921 (CO 904/114, TNA); Application of Richard C. Cotter (son of victim) to Irish Grants Committee (CO 762/106/18); William Desmond’s WS 832, 36 (BMH); Interview with Charlie Brown, Ernie O’Malley Notebooks, P17b/112 (UCDA). 


Note: A Protestant farmer (aged about 55) in the Kilmurry district, Cotter was taken from his house by two armed and masked men (part of a group of about twenty) and shot dead. His body was found a short distance from the house with a card attached labeling him a ‘convicted spy’. According to one report, the armed men were disguised as British soldiers: ‘It is claimed that the murder was on account of the deceased’s allegiance to the crown, as certain questions were put to him previous to his being shot.’ Cotter was a fearless and outspoken loyalist; he had been boycotted earlier for helping another boycotted farmer named Kingston, and he had allowed a member of the RIC to be stationed on his premises. See Application of Richard C. Cotter (son of victim) to Irish Grants Committee (CO 762/106/18). William Desmond, the captain of the Newcestown Volunteer Company, recalled the role of his unit in this case: Kilmurry Company ‘in the 1st Brigade area asked us to help them with the interrogation of a spy they had caught. This was done, and the spy, after trial, was executed. The usual label was put on his chest, and he was left in the avenue leading to his house. He was a farmer named Cotter and lived at Curraclough.’ See William Desmond’s WS 832, 36 (BMH). 

Macroom Volunteer leader Charlie Brown recalled the deception used to ensnare Cotter differently: ‘Cotter in Kilmurry side was under suspicion. A party [of IRA men] was sent to him, one of them in chaplain’s uniform, who went alone, and he [i.e., Cotter] gave information and was shot.’ See Interview with Charlie Brown, Ernie O’Malley Notebooks, P17b/112 (UCDA).

Cotter and his wife Jane had been married for nine years at the time of the 1911 census. They had married late; both were then aged 45. They had one son, Richard Christopher Cotter (then aged 4); another child had apparently died in infancy. The Cotters belonged to the Church of Ireland.

The Irish Revolution Project

Scoil na Staire /Tíreolaíocht

University College Cork, Cork,