Volunteer Edward (Eddie) McNamara

Volunteer Edward (Eddie) McNamara (aged 19) of Water-rock near Midleton (The Kennels near Midleton)

Date of incident: night of 14-15 May 1921 (death recorded 15 May 1921)

Sources: Death Certificate (Midleton District 1, Union of Midleton), 15 May 1921; CE, 16, 17, 24 May 1921; II, 17 June 1921; Irish Bulletin, 5:5 (7 June 1921); MSPC/RO/31 (Military Archives); John Kelleher’s WS 1456, 27 (BMH); Francis Healy’s WS 1694, 17-21; Roll of Honour, Cork No. 1 Brigade (Cork Public Museum, Fitzgerald Park, Cork); Midleton IRA Memorial, Main Street, Midleton.


Note: On the night of 14-15 May, after the killing earlier in the day of RIC Constables Coleman, Cornyn, and Thompson in Midleton, ‘a large party of Cameron Highlanders came into Midleton and commenced raiding houses. Some of the soldiers went in the direction of the local golf links, where they chanced to meet a youth named MacNamara, who was walking to his home along the railway line. The military shot and killed MacNamara.’ See John Kelleher’s WS 1456, 27.  His death certificate indicates that the labourer Edward McNamara (aged 19) of Water-rock died on 15 May 1921 at The Kennels, Midleton, of shock and haemorrhage caused by gunshot wounds. See Death Certificate (District of Midleton 1, Union of Midleton), 15 May 1921.

The shooting took place while McNamara was walking with a friend near the Water-rock level crossing. The soldiers claimed that McNamara had ignored their order to halt and had been shot dead while trying to run away. This was apparently the beginning of a shooting spree by these British soldiers: ‘Later that same night, some others of the [Cameron] party called to the house of a Volunteer named Richard Barry, who lived about a mile outside Midleton. Barry was arrested by the Cameron Highlanders. Next day his dead body was found on the railway line about a mile on the Midleton side of Carrigtwohill. Seemingly this same force of Camerons then went to the home of Jackeen Ahern [sic] at Ballyrichard and, not finding him at home, arrested his brother Michael. On the follwing day Michael’s dead body was found inside a fence about three hundred yards west of Carrigtwohill, near where the main road to Cork branches off to Cobh. Another I.R.A. man named Ryan from Woodstock, a short distance north of Carrigtwohill, was taken from his home that night and shot dead by the same party of Cameron Highlanders. Two other Carrigtwohill men, not members of the I.R.A., were murdered the same night by the Cameron Highlanders’ raiding party.’ See John Kelleher’s WS 1456, 27. Of the two civilians shot (a father and son named Flynn), the father was killed and the son wounded.

McNamara’s name appears on the Midleton IRA Memorial at the north end of Main Street in Midleton. On the other hand, it does not appear on the Roll of Honour of the Cork No. 1 Brigade deposited in the Cork Public Museum in Fitzgerald Park in Cork city. But he is listed by name on the roll of the Midleton or B Company of the Fourth Battalion of the Cork No. 1 Brigade. See MSPC/RO/31 (Military Archives).

Edward McNamara was one of the twelve children of the Baneshane general labourer Joseph McNamara and his wife Nora. In 1911 six of their children (three sons and three daughters ranging in age from 7 to 28) were co-resident with their parents. Edward McNamara (then 7 years old) was apparently the youngest of all their children. Newspaper accounts incorrectly gave his first name as Edmond. The family was undoubtedly poor and made do with a house or cottage of only two rooms for eight resident family members. Edward McNamara was buried at Ballinacurra. See CE, 17 May 1921.            

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