RIC Constable John Kenna

RIC Constable John Kenna (aged 24) from County Tipperary (Innishannon)

Date of incident: 14 May 1921

Sources: CE, 16, 18 May 1921; RIC Weekly Summary of Outrages against the Police (CO 904/150, TNA); RIC County Inspector’s Monthly Report, Cork West Riding, May 1921 (CO 904/115, TNA); Lieutenant-Colonel John M. McCarthy’s WS 883, Appendix, 11-12 (BMH); Ted O’Sullivan’s WS 1478, 38 (BMH); Richard Russell’s WS 1591, 24 (BMH); Con Flynn’s WS 1621, 24 (BMH); Abbott (2000), 237; irishmedals.org (accessed 28 July 2014).


Note: Constable Kenna ‘was shot dead in a field 400 yards from the barracks at Innishannon’ at about 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, 14 May 1921. The official report on his death claimed that as many as fifteen shots had been fired at him. See CE, 16 May 1921. According to Volunteer Richard Russell of the Innishannon Company, the IRA party whose members killed Constable Kenna included (besides James O’Mahoney) Jack Corkery, Jack Brien, Richard Harris, William Hogan, Tim McCarthy, and John O’Donovan. They ‘were assisted by a member of Cumann na mBan—Miss M. Cotter—who acted as scout and intelligence officer’. See Richard Russell’s WS 1591, 24 (BMH). In this ambush three men from the Ballinadee Company (Corkery, McCarthy, and Bill Hales) joined with some members of the Innishannon Company. See Con Flynn’s WS 1621, 24 (BMH).

Constable Kenna had served with the RIC for three years; he had previously been a cycle mechanic. See Abbott (2000), 237. His remains were removed on 16 May 1921 for burial at Templemore, Co. Tipperary, ‘his native place’. See CE, 18 May 1921. 

This death was only one of many among the British forces on 14 May 1921 as a result of a collective decision taken by Cork Volunteer leaders at a meeting at Kippagh near Millstreet on 27 April. The main business at the meeting was the establishment of what was designated the First Southern Division of the IRA, which combined the three Cork and three Kerry brigades with those of West Limerick and West Waterford. But it was also decided at this meeting that ‘some action should be taken against the enemy forces as a reprisal for the execution of I.R.A. men taken prisoner under arms. Accordingly, instructions were issued to all units to concentrate on a shoot up [sic] of all enemy personnel found abroad and to attack as many posts as possible on May 14th, 1921. I was deputed to organise this action in the western battalions of the brigade. In this connection I arranged for attacks at Castletownbere, Furious Pier, Skibbereen, Bantry, and Dunmanway.’ See Ted O’Sullivan’s WS 1478, 38 (BMH).

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