Volunteer Jeremiah Mullane Jr

Volunteer Jeremiah Mullane Jr (aged 22) of 227 Blarney Street, Cork city (Ballycannon near Clogheen)

Date of incident: 23 March 1921

Sources: Death Certificate, 23 March 1921; CE, 24, 25, 26 March 1921; CC, 25, 28 March 1921; Military Inquests, WO 35/149A/1 (TNA); Felix O’Doherty’s WS 739, 48-49 (BMH); P. J. Murphy’s WS 869, 27 (BMH); Michael Murphy’s WS 1547, 40 (BMH); Daniel Healy’s WS 1656, 13, 15-25, with attached affidavits (BMH); Seámus Fitzgerald’s WS 1737, 28-29 (BMH); Roll of Honour, Cork No. 1 Brigade (Cork Public Museum, Fitzgerald Park, Cork); Last Post (1976), 83; ‘The Irish Rebellion in the 6th Division Area’, Irish Sword, 27 (Spring 2010), 144; Borgonovo (2007), 86, 89-90, 101, 112-13, 128, 180; Clogheen Ambush Memorial; http://theauxiliaries.com/INCIDENTS/ballycannon-ambush/ballycannon.html (accessed 23 March 2016).  


Note: Following a raid at the house of farmer Cornelius O’Keefe by a large party of crown forces, O’Keefe’s son was arrested and six others (including Jeremiah Mullane)—all members of the IRA (C Company, First Battalion, Cork No. 1 Brigade)—were shot dead in British custody on 23 March 1921. They were Jeremiah Mullane, Daniel Murphy, Daniel Crowley, William Deasy, Michael Sullivan, and Thomas Dennehy. Republicans came to call the victims ‘the Ballycannon boys’ or to refer to the event as the ‘Kerry Pike Murders’. The compilers of the official British history of ‘The Irish Rebellion in the 6th Division Area’ noted that six leaders of ‘the Cork murder gang’ had been shot dead at Kerry Pike. 

This depiction clashed with what the IRA portrayed as a British atrocity. Reportedly notorious for his leading part in the claimed atrocity was Sergeant Chance of the RIC in Cork city, who allegedly headed a ‘murder gang’. According to city Volunteer P. J. Murphy, ‘The lads were brutally tortured and murdered. They cut out the heart of one, the tongue of another, the nose[s] and skulls were bashed of the remainder. It was impossible to recognise any of them.’ See P. J. Murphy’s WS 869, 27 (BMH). Murphy’s lurid details cannot be accepted at face value, but he was not the only city Volunteer to paint the killings in the worst light. 

City Volunteer leader Michael Murphy also later recorded an account of the mutilated condition of the Volunteers’ bodies: ‘The six lads, who were captured unarmed, were brutally murdered by the soldiers. Arms and legs were cut off some of them, and one poor chap had his stomach ripped by a bayonet. The brutal British then poured petrol over him and set him alight. I saw the bodies, horribly mutilated, when they were in coffins. Commander Kenworthy came to Cork while we held the bodies of the murdered men until he arrived. The coffins were opened and he was shown the horribly mutilated corpses of unarmed prisoners. He expressed horror at what he saw.’ See Michael Murphy’s WS 1547, 40 (BMH).

Calling these deaths ‘the worst losses inflicted on the city IRA’, John Borgonovo explains why they were so inflammatory: ‘The six Volunteers were in hiding after their recent service with the Brigade Flying Column near Ballyvourney. Republicans hotly disputed British claims that the Volunteers were killed after a fight and gathered testimony from local farmers that the men were beaten and then shot on the spot. The funerals were the largest seen in Cork since the death of Terence MacSwiney.’ The killings took place as a result of information supplied by a member of the Flying Column of the Cork No. 1 Brigade—the decorated British army veteran and Volunteer Patrick ‘Croxy’ Connors. See Borgonovo (2007), 89. Connors escaped to New York with British assistance, but two Cork city Volunteers—Daniel Healy and Martin Donovan—tracked him down and shot him there. See Daniel Healy’s WS 1656, 13, 15-25 (and attached affidavits); Ó hÉalaithe (2014), 188-91.

Volunteer Mullane was one of the seven living children (nine born) of the Cork city general labourer Jeremiah Mullane Sr and his wife Nora of 227 Blarney Street. All seven children (four daughters and three sons, ranging in age from 1 to 13) co-resided with their parents in 1911. The junior Jeremiah was the second child and oldest son. He was buried in the Republican Plot in St Finbarr’s Cemetery in Cork city. Special gravestone markers in St Finbarr’s Cemetery in Cork record the ages of the six Ballycannon victims: Daniel Crowley (22); William Deasy (20); Daniel Murphy (24); Thomas Dennehy (21); Jeremiah Mullane (22); and Michael O’Sullivan (20).   

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