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Civilian Patrick George Ray

Civilian Patrick George Ray (aged 37) of Passage West (near Passage West)

Date of incident: 22 Jan. 1921 (ex-soldier kidnapped, killed, and disappeared as suspected spy by IRA)

Sources: IT, 22 Aug. 1921; CE, 13 Jan. 1922; IRA Executions in 1921 (Collins Papers, A/0649, Military Archives); Register of Compensation Commission (Ireland) Cases of Private Persons (CO 905/15, TNA); O’Mahony (1986), 104; Murphy (2010), 35, 41.


Note: Patrick Ray appeared on the list of ‘missing persons’ published in the Irish Times of 22 August 1921. The date of his kidnapping was given there as 22 January 1921. An ex-soldier (a sergeant with the Royal Munster Fusiliers), Ray had served in the British army during the Great War and earlier in India. He retired from military service in 1920. He was executed—probably in late January 1921—as a suspected spy by the IRA. Ray had been observed occasionally going from Passage to the police headquarters in Cork city. He had also occasionally played cards with the RIC in Passage and allegedly accompanied the police on nocturnal raids. Following orders received from headquarters of the Cork No. 1 Brigade to execute him, he was arrested on Church Hill in Passage along with ‘Kruger’ Murphy, who was subsequently released; Ray in contrast was closely interrogated and deemed guilty as an informer. He was shot and buried in the ‘Three Corner Field’ at the top of Church Hill. See O’Mahony (1986), 104. According to the Cork Examiner, Ray ‘was an ex-soldier and employed as a labourer in Passage Docks, and on the 22nd January 1921, while on his way to the Post Office, he was kidnapped, and from that time till now he had [sic] never been heard of.’ See CE, 13 Jan. 1922.

Later, members of his family made further enquiries about his fate, and it was disclosed in correspondence in late March 1923 that Ray had been ‘executed on a charge of espionage by order of the then Brigade O/C, Cork No. 1’. It was also revealed that Ray had been ‘attended by Father O’Donovan of Passage West on the morning of his execution’. See IRA Executions in 1921 (Collins Papers, A/0649, Military Archives). Ray appears in the Compensation Commission Register under 22 January 1921, with the notation that British liability was accepted, and with a note that £2,000 was awarded to his family. See Register of Compensation Commission (Ireland) Cases of Private Persons (CO 905/15, TNA). The Rays were Catholic.

The Irish Revolution Project

Scoil na Staire /Tíreolaíocht

University College Cork, Cork,