Volunteer Peter Monahan [or Monohan]

Volunteer Peter Monahan [or Monohan] of Bandon (Crossbarry ambush)

Date of incident: 19 March 1921

Sources: CE, 24 March 1921; Military Inquests, WO 35/161A (TNA); Peter Kearney’s WS 444, 5-9 (BMH); Denis Lordan’s WS 470, 24 (BMH); William Norris’s WS 595, 9-11 (BMH); William Desmond’s WS 832, 37-44, 47-48 (BMH); John O’Driscoll’s WS 1250, 8-11 (BMH); Michael Coleman’s WS 1254, 13-16 (BMH); William McCarthy’s WS 1255, 8-11 (BMH); Cornelius Calnan’s WS 1317, 7-8 (BMH); Denis Murphy’s WS 1318, 8-10 (BMH); Daniel Holland’s WS 1341, 9-12 (BMH); Denis O’Brien’s WS 1353, 11-14 (BMH); Christopher O’Connell’s WS 1530, 18-21 (BMH); Michael J. Crowley’s WS 1603, 18-20 (BMH); Charles O’Donoghue’s WS 1607, 10 (BMH); Daniel Donovan’s WS 1608, 11-14 (BMH); Daniel Canty’s WS 1619, 27-30 (BMH); Con Flynn’s WS 1621, 14-15 (BMH); James Doyle’s WS 1640, 17-20 (BMH); Jeremiah Deasy’s WS 1738, 16-17 (BMH); Florence Begley’s WS 1771, 1-5 (BMH); Rebel Cork’s FS, 157-60, 207; Deasy (1973), 351-55; Last Post (1976), 83; Kautt (2010), 138-48; IRA Crossbarry Monument.


Note: Among the three Volunteers killed in the Crossbarry ambush of 19 March 1921 was the Scot ‘Peter Monahan’, a member of the Kilbrittain Company of the First (Bandon) Battalion of the Cork No. 3 Brigade. (There seems to be general agreement that ‘Peter Monahan’ was a purely fictitious name, but we have no other.) Monahan had become a Volunteer in November 1920 in a strange fashion when he and another deserter from British forces were taken prisoner by Jeremiah Deasy and others of the Ballinadee Company along the Bandon-Kilmacsimon Road. The first thing for which Monahan and his comrade asked was ‘an outfit of civilian clothes’. As Deasy later recalled: ‘We then took them to Finn’s, Rathrought, where they were supplied with civilian clothes and a good meal. They were then removed to an outside farm belonging to Dan McCarthy at Ballyvolane, where they were held prisoners for some days while being questioned by battalion officers. It was eventually established that the two men were genuine. The men were Peter Monahan—serving in a Scottish regiment—and Tom Clarke (I think). Peter Monahan later joined the brigade column and operated as column engineer until he was killed at Crossbarry on March 19th 1921.’ See Jeremiah Deasy’s WS 1738, 17 (BMH).

Among his other activities as brigade-column engineer, Monahan worked on the manufacture and planting of mines and bombs with somewhat mixed outcomes. See Denis Murphy’s WS 1318, 7-8 (BMH); Daniel Holland’s WS 1341, 9 (BMH). In the Crossbarry ambush Monahan was in charge of setting into place ‘a large mine of gun-cotton’ at the last turn in the road before Crossbarry Bridge, where later in the encounter a group of Volunteers in Section 5 under Denis Lordan, including the now mortally wounded Monahan, stood in danger of encirclement by Essex soldiers under Major A. E. Percival’s command. ‘At the critical moment’, recalled Liam Deasy, ‘a lucky accident occurred which caused a diversion when it was most needed and helped Lordan in his bid to escape the enemy encirclement. It happened that when Peter Monahan had been shot, he rolled in agony on the ground and wound the wires attached to the mine around his body. So he had died. Just before attempting to evacuate his position, Lordon thought of detaching the electric wires from the exploder and bringing the latter with him. However, in moving Monahan’s body, his arm accidentally made contact with the plunger and detonated the mine. A terrific explosion followed and sent a huge cloud of earth and dust high into the air. In the moments of surprise and confusion that followed, Lordon succeeded in getting his men out of the trap in which they were and leading them into the safety of Beasley’s garden. Thence . . . Lordon and his men followed the route we had taken and arrived at Skeenahaine a short time after [Tom] Barry and [Tom] Kelleher.’ See Deasy (1973), 236, 242-43.

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