Volunteer Cornelius (‘Neilus’) Foley Jr

Volunteer Cornelius (‘Neilus’) Foley Jr (aged 27) of Tooms West (Tooms near Macroom)

Date of incident: 6 March 1921

Sources: Death Certificate, 6 March 1921; CE, 8 March 1921; FJ, 8 March 1921; II, 8 March 1921; CCE, 12 March 1921; Military Inquests, WO 35/150/44 (TNA); Statement of Nora Cunningham, Cunningham Family Archive, P 44 (CCCA); Charles Browne’s WS 873, 40 (BMH); Mollie Cunningham’s WS 1681, 4 (BMH); Nora Cunningham’s WS 1690, 4 (BMH); Daniel Corkery’s WS 1719, 19 (BMH); Roll of Honour, Cork No. 1 Brigade (Cork Public Museum, Fitzgerald Park, Cork); Last Post (1976), 82; Ó hÉalaithe (2014), 274; IRA Monument, The Square, Macroom.


Note: Foley was fatally shot on Sunday evening, 6 March 1921, while allegedly running away from Auxiliary police cadets at Tooms in the Kilmichael district. He died soon thereafter at Macroom Castle. The name of Cornelius Foley appears on the Republican Monument in The Square of Macroom, where he is listed as a company quartermaster. See Twohig, Green Tears for Hecuba, photo between p. 32 and p. 33. Daniel Corkery, O/C of the Macroom Battalion of the Cork No. 1 Brigade, recalled this casualty years later: ‘During the first week in March 1921 a raiding party of Tans surprised some unarmed members of the Macroom column who were resting in [the] Toames area. One man—“Neilus” Foley—was shot dead, but the remainder escaped.’ See Daniel Corkery’s WS 1719, 19 (BMH). A military inquest came to the dubious conclusion that crown forces had shot and mortally wounded Foley after he had ignored their order to halt. See Military Inquests, WO 35/150/44 (TNA).

Macroom Cumann na mBan member Mollie Cunningham later recalled that ‘Neilus’ Foley was one of  ‘a number of unarmed prisoners’ who had been wounded and captured at Tooms by an ‘enemy raiding party’. Foley ‘was taken to Macroom Castle [local headquarters of British forces], where he died. His body was then removed to Macroom workhouse. It now fell to my lot to arrange, in co-operation with the dead man’s sister Bridget, for the removal and burial of the remains.’ See Mollie Cunningham’s WS 1681, 4 (BMH).

Foley was quartermaster of J Company of the Seventh (Macroom) Battalion of the Cork No. 1 Brigade. He was one of the eleven children of the Tooms West tailor Cornelius Foley Sr and his wife Mary. Residing with them in 1911 were three sons and a daughter. ‘Neilus’ and his sister Bridget seem to have been the youngest of the eleven children (aged 18 and 16 respectively). Cornelius Foley Sr, aged 72 in 1911, was sixteen years older than his wife. 

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