Volunteer Captain Cornelius Murphy

Volunteer Captain Cornelius Murphy (aged 30) of Ballydaly near Millstreet (Cork Military Detention Barracks)

Date of incident: 1 Feb. 1921 (executed by crown forces)

Sources: CE, 9 Feb. 1921; FJ, 4 Feb. 1921; Military Inquests, WO 35/155B/30 (TNA); Daniel Browne’s WS 785, 2 (BMH); O’Donoghue (1954, 1986), 129; Rebel Cork’s FS, 201; Last Post (1976), 79; Sheehan (2011), 105, 107; www.irishwarmemorials.iehttp://irishvolunteers.org/cork-county-gaol-ira-volunteers-executed-memorial/ (accessed 3 Nov. 2015); UCC IRA Memorial; IRA Memorial, Main Street, Millstreet; Volunteer Cornelius Murphy Memorial, Ballydaly.  


Note: Con Murphy and his brother Tim were ‘active Volunteers’. On the night of 3-4 January 1921, after having arranged billets nearby for members of the recently formed small Flying Column of the Millstreet Battalion (nine men), he went to his father’s house in Ballydaly. On the following day Ballydaly was raided by a combined force of police and military, and among those taken away as prisoners were Con Murphy, his father Denis, and his two brothers Tim and Denis. A member of the Millstreet Rural District Council and a farmer’s son, Con was court-martialled for having a revolver and seven rounds of ammunition in his possession, in violation of the recently imposed Martial Law of 27 December 1920, under which a person could be executed merely for possession of arms, ammunition, or explosives. He was found guilty and executed at Cork Military Detention Barracks on 1 February 1921—the first execution under this draconian new ordinance. See Michael Riordan, ‘The Campaign in the Millstreet Battalion Area, Cork No. 2 Brigade’, in Rebel Cork’s FS, 201. 

Born in March 1890, Cornelius Murphy, of Ballydaly, near Millstreet and Rathmore (Co. Kerry), attended Ballydaly National Schools and joined the Volunteers in July 1915, helping to organise and to arm his local company. He escaped arrest at the time of the 1916 Rising and appeared for active service on Easter Tuesday 1916. He was a member and later captain of the Rathduane Company (subsequently E Company) of the Seventh Battalion of the Cork No. 2 Brigade. He ‘had taken part in the attack on the Rathmore R.I.C. barracks in the previous June [1920], and in the fight with Black and Tans in Millstreet in November. He was one of the foundation members of the Millstreet Battalion Column.’ While taking a short break from his service with the battalion column, he was captured near his father’s house at Ballydaly on 4 January 1921, taken to Cork Military Barracks, tried by court martial, sentenced to death, and executed less than a month later. See http://irishvolunteers.org/cork-county-gaol-ira-volunteers-executed-memorial/ (accessed 3 Nov. 2015). See also www.irishwarmemorials.ie; O’Donoghue (1954, 1986), 129.

Cornelius Murphy was in 1911 one of the six children of the farmer Denis J. Murphy and his wife Kate (both aged 61) of Ballydaly (Caherbarnagh) in the Millstreet district. Four of their six children were co-resident with them in that year. Cornelius was the youngest child at home (then aged 21) and perhaps the youngest overall. After his execution on 1 February 1921, he was buried in the former grounds of the Cork County Gaol. The location is marked by an IRA memorial on the University College Cork main campus, just inside the College Road entrance.  This was a keen disappointment to his parents, who had planned to inter their son’s body in Millstreet Cemetery. See FJ, 4 Feb. 1921. Volunteer Murphy is named on the IRA memorial on Main Street in Millstreet, which notes that he was a captain in the First Battalion of the Cork No. 4 Brigade (that brigade took in the Millstreet Battalion when it was established in July 1921). 

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