Volunteer Charles J. Daly

Volunteer Charles J. Daly (aged about 31) of 5 Glenview, South Douglas Road, Cork (alias Michael Carthy), (field near Mount Vernon, Douglas)

Date of incident: 28 June 1921

Sources: II, 29 June, 1 July 1921; FJ, 1 July 1921; CE, 4 July 1921; Military Inquests, WO 35/147B/6 (TNA); WS 810 of Tim Herlihy et al., 14 (BMH); Florence O’Donoghue Papers, Statements re Death of Charles Daly, Killed in June 1921, ca. July 1921 (MS 31,178, NLI); Roll of Honour, Cork No. 1 Brigade (Cork Public Museum, Fitzgerald Park, Cork); Last Post (1976), 89; Borgonovo (2007), 59, 65 (note 109), 115 (note 24); Ó Ruairc (2016), 173, 239.


Note: A member of D Company of the Second Battalion of the Cork No. 1 Brigade and later battalion adjutant, Charles J. Daly was shot on 28 June 1921 by a soldier (Lieutenant Hammond of the Dorset Regiment), allegedly as he was trying to escape after offering to provide information on the whereabouts of IRA battalion weapons. His body was found in a field near Mount Vernon in the Cork suburb of Douglas. But the story as told at a military inquiry into his death is not very credible. Daly was a native of Waterfall. British soldiers had just carried out a successful raid on a public house at Waterfall, about four miles from the city, and captured twenty-three reputed members of the IRA. [The great majority of these prioners were ordinary civilians.] Daly was a former member of the Cork Rural District Council, which passed a resolution of sympathy and regret soon after receiving news of his death. According to a statement given at the military inquiry in Cork soon after his killing, Daly was also said to have been a captain in D Company of the 2nd Battalion, but to have ‘retired two years ago’. See II, 1 July 1921. 

The key witness (the officer who killed Daly) in the case at the military inquiry testified that shortly after 2 a.m. on 28 June 1921 he had gone to the main gate of the guardroom at the barracks [Victoria Barracks], where he encountered Daly. He asked Daly what he was doing when a certain lieutenant was killed on 27 June 1921. Daly was said to have replied: ‘Whoever told you I did that was a liar.’ The same night the military witness saw him again and Daly reportedly told him: ‘If you do the right thing by me, I will show you where the battalion’s rifles are kept.’ This officer then got a lorry and a guard and went in search of the arms dump. The officer warned Daly twice that ‘if he attempted to escape, he would be instantly shot’. Daly directed them to the Douglas-Carrigaline Road, but then said that he had made a mistake, so they turned back until they reached Mount Vernon, where Daly said that ‘“that was the place’”. With Daly in tow, they crossed a field, and ‘he pointed out a spot in some trees at the bottom of the valley. While making towards the spot, Daly suddenly dashed off. Witness fired twice and the man fell and died.’ He had gunshot wounds in the head and the abdomen. See II, 1 July 1921.

Daly’s old comrades expressed the belief years later that Daly had been shot dead while unarmed and in British custody. See WS of Tim Herlihy 810 et al., 14 (BMH). In fact, Daly may have been tortured or even beaten to death in Victoria Barracks in Cork. Borgonovo has noted: ‘Florrie O’Donoghue retained a medical examiner’s autopsy of Daly’s body. It reported that Daly suffered six bullet wounds, five bayonet wounds, a broken left eye socket, a crushed skull, fractured ribs and fingers, and a broken arm, tibia, and fibula.’ See Borgonovo (2007), 65 (note 109). Ó Ruairc contends briefly but emphatically that ‘Charlie Daly was arrested and beaten to death by British soldiers at Victoria Barracks’. See Ó Ruairc (2016), 239.

Daly had formerly resided at 5 Glenview, South Douglas Road, Cork. He had previously been employed at the Gas Office on the South Mall in Cork. At the time of his death he was unmarried and aged about 31. See Military Inquests, WO 35/147B/6 (TNA). He had also been a member of the Cork Rural District Council. See CE, 4 July 1921.

It appears that Charles J. Daly was in 1911 a member of a household at Skahabeg (Blackrock) headed by his older brother John and including, besides himself, two younger brothers and two younger sisters. John Daly was then employed as an engineer at a local gas works. Charles J. Daly (then aged 21) worked as a clerk. His sister Catherine (then aged 17) later testified that masked gunmen had often visited and terrorised their family. He was interred in the Republican Plot in St Finbarr’s Cemetery in Cork city.

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