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RIC Constable Thomas Shanley

RIC Constable Thomas Shanley (aged 30) from County Leitrim (Kildorrery)

Date of incident: 26 June 1921

Sources: CE, 28, 29 June, 8 July 1921; CC, 28 June 1921; FJ, 28 June 1921; II, 28 June 1921; SS, 2 July 1921; Military Inquest, WO 35/159A/36 (TNA); Weekly Summary of Outrages against the Police (CO 904/148-50, TNA); Thomas Barry’s WS 430, 28 (BMH); Seámus O’Mahony’s WS 730, 16 (BMH); Abbott (2000), 259; Ó Coilean (2007), 92; (accessed 28 July 2014).


Note: Constable Shanley and Sergeant Ryan were reportedly shot ‘from behind at point-blank range’ as they were leaving Sunday Mass and returning to the RIC barracks at Kildorrery on 26 June 1921. The shootings took place ‘about 40 or 50 yards from the church gates’; the gunmen—‘three or four undisguised civilians’—then melted into the crowd that was leaving Mass. Shanley was mortally wounded (while he lay ‘on the ground, four shots were fired into his body’), whereas Sergeant Ryan ‘escaped with only a slight wound on the left wrist’. A baby boy named Jeremiah Donovan (aged about 3) and a man named William Carroll were hospitalised with bullet wounds received in this episode. Constable Shanley ‘had been stationed in the district for the past five years and was very poular with all classes of the community. A few minutes after the shooting, the services of a priest were obtained. The priest administered the last rites of the church amongst a crowd of about 200 residents who knelt around the body.’ See CE, 28 June 1921.

The killing of Constable Shanley prompted the military to order the closure of the creameries at Kildorrey and Farahy on Tuesday, 28 June. See CE, 29 June 1921. Shanley had been a member of the RIC for ten years; he had formerly been a farmer. See Abbott (2000), 259.

One recent author has suggested that Volunteers shot Shanley because they believed (wrongly in the author’s view) that he had been involved in the killing of Lord Mayor Tomás MacCurtain since Shanley had been in Cork city at that time working on other cases. See Ó Coilean (2007), 92.

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