Volunteer John Murphy

Volunteer John Murphy (aged 22) of Cloghane near Bandon (Cloghane)

Date of incident: 26 June 1921

Sources: CE, 29 June 1921; II, 29 June 1921; CCE, 2 July 1921; SS, 13 Aug. 1921; Charles O’Donoghue’s WS 1607, 9 (BMH); Rebel Cork’s FS, 207; Barry (1949, 1989), 217, 237; Barry (1974), 55; Last Post (1976), 89; Hart (1998), 197; Volunteer John Murphy Memorial, Cloghane, Bandon.


Note: John Murphy was shot dead during a military roundup in the Ballinadee district on 26 June 1921. An employee of Robert Hales, Sr, of Knocknacurra, Murphy was apparently ‘crossing the fields to his home when he was accosted’. Aged 22 and not involved in politics (‘quiet and inoffensive’), he was shot fatally in the neck. See CE, 29 June 1921.

According to Tom Barry, however, Murphy was killed while in British custody: ‘The Essex did not use a bullet but bayoneted him to death in the field, and his lacerated and badly torn body was found some hours later where he fell. When news came of this brutal outrage, Lord Bandon’s life hung on a very slender thread.’ (The earl of Bandon had just been kidnapped as a hostage by the IRA.) See Barry (1949, 1989), 217.

Barry’s account did not stand alone. According to a woman resident in the district who made a statement about Murphy’s death later in 1921: ‘The real facts are that his body was found in a terrible condition—he having been bayoneted to death. Both his sides were ripped, and his body was in such a condition that when his friends found it, they buried it immediately, without even obtaining medical evidence.’ See SS, 13 Aug. 1921. Local oral testimony claims that Essex soldiers dragged Volunteer Murphy’s body along the road at the back of a lorry a distance of more than a mile, from Hales Cross to the point where his monument stands today at Cloghane.

Volunteer John Murphy was in 1911 one of the nine children (ten born) of the farm labourer Denis Murphy and his wfe Kate of Cloghane (Knockroe) in the Bandon district. One of his older brothers (Andy) was a fisherman and farm labourer; another older brother (Denis) was a postman and labourer. Four of the ten children still co-resided with their parents in 1911; the other five were no longer living at home. John Murphy (then aged 11) was apparently the youngest child. Following his gruesome death in June 1921, he was interred in Ballinadee Churchyard. 

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